Hooray for Sonos for listening to their customer feedback. Today, they released version 2.5 of their system software, adding the most useful feature yet: search. Sonos also added access to Napster, but as a subscriber to Rhapsody and Pandora, I’m less interested in access to yet another online service at this point, though I definitely appreciate their apparent strategy to support as many third-party music services as possible.
But back to search: we’ve all been trained by Google to depend on the search box, and Sonos has (finally) provided it to us. I’ve long been a fan of Sonos, and use it for listening to both my large mp3 collection at home as well as for streaming from Rhapsody and Pandora. The biggest drawback (particularly with Rhapsody’s multi-million song library) was the lack of a search function. I’ve been a big fan of Sonos for years now, and with the addition of the search feature, I am an even happier user.
The fine folks at Sonos were kind enough to let me download the new software a few days early this past weekend, so I’ve been happily searching away since Saturday morning. At this point, I only have three remaining major feature requests: one, it would be great if one of the ZonePlayer models (or the new ZoneBridge) had a USB slot accessible on the face that enabled playback of music from a USB flash drive — as someone who records a lot of my own original music, it would be great to have a fast way to access a few new tracks of music without having to go through the trouble of re-indexing the music collection.
Which brings me to feature request number two: there has got to be a way to enable to Sonos to do a real-time, continuous sync with my local music collection. Every time I rip a new CD, it is a pain to have to reindex the collection just to find the new tracks — I have several thousands CDs worth of music on my network and it can take Sonos ten or fifteen minutes to update the index. I wish it didn’t.
And my third and final feature request is one I realize Sonos has no control over: Support for playback of Apple DRM’d music. As I’ve written before, I wish I could play songs purchased on the iTunes Music Store on my Sonos. Now that Apple is selling some songs DRM-free, I have a partial solution going forward, but what about all my old purchases? I’ve tried AppleTV and the Airport Express for music streaming at home, but Sonos beats those solutions hands-down, particularly for multi-room and whole-house audio.
Apple, are you listening? The Sonos is a great product, has great industrial design, is super easy to set up and use, and, if I’m any proxy, Sonos seems to have a loyal, vocal and very happy user base. Sound familiar? Seems to me Apple ought to seriously consider buying Sonos. It would give them a stronger beachhead into the digital home than the lackluster AppleTV has achieved to date. On the surface (at least to me) it is a match made in heaven…