You no longer need a PC (or iPhone) to play music through a Sonos system, as the company has finally enabled on-board streaming from Android devices, several months after Apple devices got the same functionality.
Android users can now play from "This Mobile Device" without needing to use a PC or NAS.
(Screenshot by Ty Pendlebury/CNET)
The update follows a similar upgrade to iOS 6 devices in December 2012, which enabled users to access their device's on-board music library and stream it through their Sonos system.
The Android update enables the option to play from "This Mobile Device", and should enable multiple users to create a playlist on the fly using their own music — perfect for parties. Every user would need to download the Sonos app and sync it with the system first, though.
The app reads the media stored in your device's default Music folder, and will play most formats including 16-bit FLAC, MP3 and AAC, though Sonos advises that tracks downloaded directly from the Google Play Store won't work away from a PC.
To use the Sonos Controller for Android app (version 4.1.1) you need to have at least Android 2.1 (Eclair) or higher, but the rest of your Sonos components do not need to be updated.
Using the update, we were able to make a playlist with multiple phones, and it worked fairly well, though you can't add tracks from any other phones than your own.
Beware that if you connect using standard 2.4GHz wireless (802.11 g/n), the spectrum gets full very quickly, as Sonos also uses the same bandwidth. For example, we found that we couldn't stream FLAC from a second HTC One X+ phone to the wirelessly connected Play:3 without an error message ("Unable to play 'x' — network connection speed insufficient to maintain playback buffer). MP3 files worked much better, though. As a caveat, while we had a five-bar connection to the router, the CNET office is awash with 2.4GHz wireless signals — you may not have the same problem at your home.
Functionality of the Sonos system was last improved in May 2013, with added playlist support and better Spotify integration.