As many readers will know, I opted to go down the Sonos route of home audio as opposed to the Apple Homepod route. While my devices are generally all within the Apple ecosystem, I don’t yet rate Siri & I do like the option to use third-party music streaming services such as Tidal if I see fit. I also like the Sonos app & the fact that I can control it from the app without having to use voice controls at all.
One of the biggest features of Sonos that I use are the lock screen controls. My device usage has changed dramatically over recent months as I’ve been researching smart phone addiction & the problems caused by too much exposure to social media. One thing to come out of this research is that I tend to leave my iPhone docked in a bamboo dock in my kitchen at all times. This means I don’t pick up the phone at random & my compulsion to check it has diminished.
This also means that I really rely on the lock screen controls for my sonos. The hardware volume buttons are perfect to quickly adjust volume without taking my phone out of the dock or even unlocking it. I use the lock screen skip buttons & I like to view the artwork on the lockscreen. Also, I use the lock screen controls via my apple watch, which makes perfect sense as the controls are always on hand. The apple watch is a great way to control sonos, it’s discrete and the digital crown acts as a volume knob.
The other benefit is that the lock screen controls also appear on my wife’s iPhone & our iPad’s, meaning we normally have a device close at hand to control our sonos system.
This week sonos rolled out Airplay 2 support. This support meant a sonos software update & an app update. To be clear, I have Sonos Play 1’s in my home. I don’t like having alexa in every room in the house & since unplugging the Fire Stick, I don’t have any smart device which is always listening for prompts. It just doesn’t fly with me from a privacy standpoint.
The Play 1’s don’t support Airplay 2, the update only applies to the more high-end Sonos speakers such as the newer Play 5’s and the all new Sonos one’s with alexa built-in. I really wish that Airplay 2 could have been supported, but I may add a Sonos one to my system at some point which will enable it across my sonos system.
Anyway, even though Airplay 2 isn’t supported on any of my devices, the new update broke my all important lock screen controls. After contacting Sonos I was told that basically the Lock Screen controls where never officially supported by Apple & that they had been a bit of a hack (playing a silent song on the iPhone to work).
Regardless, the lock screen controls are what originally sold me into the Sonos ecosystem. I don’t like talking to my devices & it is too hit & miss at present. Furthermore most of my music is in my personal collection & my library isn’t fully supported by Alexa in the newer Sonos speakers.
And the fix for Lock Screen Controls on iOS/Sonos
After a lot of head scratching I decided to experiment with getting the lock screen controls working again. The option was still ticked in my iOS app settings, so I started poking around. I concluded that if AirPlay devices are available on the network, the lock screen controls are disabled as AirPlay takes precedent. I figured this out by unplugging my Apple TV and my Libreelec Kodi media centre on the Raspberry Pi. These two devices are my only Airplay endpoints on the network. After rebooting my iPhone and firing up the Sonos app, I was suprised to see the Lock Screen controls return.
To make the change permanent, I disabled AirPlay on my Apple TV and I also disabled it on my Kodi media centre. For some reason, the iPhone running iOS 11 will now cache any AirPlay endpoints (possibly to allow them to sleep but still be available to iOS). So once you disable AirPlay, you need to restart all of your iOS devices. Also, unplug your AirPlay endpoints until you can confirm the fix works, and turn them back on one by one to isolate any which are still broadcasting as Airplay receivers.
To find out which devices on your network are airplay endpoints, open the music app on your iOS devices (not the sonos app, but the actually music app) and click the airplay button. If you see any devices there, you need to identify them and disable airplay on those devices.
My Lock Screen controls are now working as expected on all of my iOS devices & I hope Sonos can come up with a more elegant solution in future updates.
I would love to introduce an AirPlay supporting speaker to my sonos collection which doesn’t feature Alexa, perhaps something for Sonos to consider for all of us Privacy focused tech people.