Lifehacker‘s Adam Pash walks you through setting up your iTunes for streaming to multiple rooms using the Airport Express, all controlled from an iPhone or iPod touch’s Remote.app. This is the very thing I was talking about when I said that Remote.app “pretty much negates the need for something like the Sonos music system for most households” — about which Sonos was none too happy until I explained to them that I used and liked a Sonos system in my home. Which is when they invited me to check out their latest Sonos receivers.
Which is where they told me they were working on an iPhone app in their labs, but weren’t sure if they were going to release it.
Sonos has great amplifiers, a MIMO wireless network that makes setup simple and keeps multi-room music completely in sync, and decent software that works great when paired to an all-you-can-eat music subscription like Rhapsody or Pandora. Their remote, however advanced it was when the system launched a few years ago, now is extremely behind the times: too large, missing a touch-based interface, and slow to load large indexes of metadata like song titles and artist names.
Fortunately, the Sonos remote is the least essential part of their system.
The iPhone and iPod touch are seeing healthy penetration in home automation circles, the same sort of segment that would buy the not-quite-luxury, not-quite-a-bargain Sonos system. Adding an official Sonos application to the iPhone should be a no brainer.
But they better do it soon. Many people only want to add one or two more locations in which to listen to music in their home. Many of those folks have home theater and other stereo systems around into which an Airport Express or AppleTV could be connected. For someone who already has all these things in place — and I really do believe that most of the people in Sonos’ market already have all this equipment at hand — the price will come down to buying a few Airport Expresses or a whole new proprietary Sonos system — with an arguably better user experience from the cheaper option.