John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Sonos Schools the Dock With New Software Update

With the launch of its proprietary Lightning dock connector, Apple pushed a number of accessories designed to work with its iOS devices into obsolescence, and sent their manufacturers scrambling to integrate its new connection standard.

Some manufacturers, anyway. Others have decided that the future of docking doesn’t involve a dock at all. Case in point: Sonos, the company responsible for the wireless multiroom audio system of the same name. After quietly killing off its own wireless dock in September, Sonos is today rolling out an update to its software that serves exactly the same function.

Sonos 3.8.3 transforms the devices on which it runs into networked drives that can stream the music stored on them to a Sonos system. And it gives them the same functionality as a standard Sonos library. In other words, you can play different tracks or playlists in different rooms, or the same ones in multiple rooms. That’s something Apple’s AirPlay wireless streaming protocol can’t do (yet), which is presumably one reason why Sonos isn’t using it (another is Apple’s AirPlay certification program). It’s not using Bluetooth, either. According to a company spokesperson, the app simply reads music off an iOS device and streams it to Sonos players over the network they create — in its native digital format.

Sonos 3.8.3 supports most, but not all, popular audio formats — MP3, AAC and Apple Lossless files, among others. It doesn’t support WAV or AIFF, or any tracks protected by a digital rights management scheme. Obviously, it does not play well with Apple’s iTunes Match music locker service, either.

Still Sonos’ latest software seems an elegant solution for the dock dilemma created by Apple’s move to Lightning, and a far better option than line-in for listening to music from your iPhone — or a friend’s — over a Sonos system.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus