Sonos customers who use Android devices to control their wireless speakers are about to lose the ability to play music files that are stored locally on their phones or tablets. As spotted by The Verge, Sonos recently (and quietly) announced that as of May 23, 2023, the Sonos app for Android will no longer give you the On this Mobile Device option in the app’s Music Sources tab.
Apple users already know what this is like. The same feature was removed from iOS and iPadOS versions of the Sonos app several years ago. The difference, though, is that as Apple user owns a newish Sonos speaker (basically any product released since the Sonos One) they have the option to stream any content from their phones to their Sonos gear over AirPlay 2, a lossless, 16-bit wireless protocol that’s supported on tons of Sonos products.
Android users aren’t as lucky. After May 23, their choice will be to use Bluetooth (but that only works on Sonos Roam, Sonos Move, and the Era 100 and 300) or they can put their phone’s music library on a network-attached storage (NAS) device. If you don’t own a NAS drive, you could use a Mac or PC instead, but these would need to be left on 24/7 in order to access the content. A Plex Media Server will also work.
If you have a Sonos product with a line-in port (and you actually have a headphone jack on your phone), that is a third option. Finally, if you don’t mind paying to access music you already own, you can upload your tunes to one of several streaming music services that have this ability (and which Sonos supports), including Apple Music, YouTube Music, and Deezer.
Even if you’re fortunate enough to have a Bluetooth-capable Sonos device, Sonos’ lack of high-quality Bluetooth codecs means you won’t be getting an equivalent level of sound quality to streaming a track directly from Apple Music or Amazon Music. Sonos devices do not support Chromecast audio, which would be the perfect alternative. In fact, Chromecast support would once again give Android devices the edge over Apple products, because Chromecast can handle 24-bit hi-res audio, while AirPlay 2 is limited to 16-bit, CD quality.
Don’t hold your breath for Chromecast support. Sonos and Google have spent a lot of time in court together over the past few years, which doesn’t bode well for any new cooperative efforts between the two companies. It’s notable that the Sonos Era 100 and Era 300 are the first Sonos smart speakers that aren’t currently compatible with Google Assistant, although Sonos claims this has to do with Google’s new, stricter technical requirements, not the result of any legal cases.
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