Bose invited us to New York City this week to preview their new ‘SoundTouch’ speakers and corresponding apps for iOS, Android, Mac and Windows. We were recently turned from Bose haters to fans by Bose’s Soundlink Mini Portable Bluetooth Speaker so we took them up on the offer.
The knee-jerk thing to do is to compare the SoundTouch idea to Sonos/app because on the surface, Bose’s app and stand alone speakers do the same thing: Play music via Wifi all over your house (also Airplay for iTunes and Apple device direct play is also included).
However, Bose differentiates in a small but profound way by going retro…
The idea is that after a long day at work or getting up in the morning, you don’t want to have to open your smartphone, browse to an app and dig through some music to find what you like. You’d rather just push a button on the speaker like you do on a car radio and hit a preset.
The Bose App lets you set up your speakers and play music over Wifi all over your house, but the differentiator is the six preset buttons on each device (notice on top). You can simply push a button walk away and in a second or two, music that you’ve preset is streaming to your speakers.
Setting these buttons is fairly straightforward in the app which can be done from any iOS or Android phone or tablet or from a Mac or PC.
As you can see above and below, the app allows you to set 6 presets such as Pandora Radio Stations, Internet Radio, iTunes playlists or other music (many more streaming options are coming we’re told). When you walk into a room and want to hear some music, just click one of the hardware buttons on top of the device like you are switching on a light.
It seems obvious, but it really changes the game.
During my hands on time I was able to set up stations within a few seconds and then push the hardware button on the top to begin playing what I’d set up. Moving stations around is very intuitive.
The Bose SoundTouch App is now available in the App Store for Free.
The SoundTouch app requires all new Bose hardware and boy do these things sound great. There are three different sized SoundTouch all-in-ones. The SoundTouch 30 ($700), SoundTouch 20 ($400), and SoundTouch
10 Portable ($400) which includes a Lithium ion battery giving it around 6 hours of free usage. Because these devices rely on Wifi rather than the more portable Bluetooth, taking this out of the house might be better suited to using the AUX port on the back rather than Airplay or the Bose App. The portable is something that you would put on your desk or by your bed. Meanwhile the 30 fills up a large room with a lot of really big, crisp sound. The 20 is better suited for medium or small rooms, kitchens, bathrooms basements or garages.
Bose is also updating its Wave Line to the new SoundTouch technology with new products that will hit the market this month.
But perhaps most interesting is something that looks like a Nest thermostat and is scheduled for an early 2014 release. Bose plans new indoor and outdoor speakers with a new round SoundTouch controller. I tried it briefly in their demo, and while not quite ready for prime time, it does have a unique interface for streaming music and controlling the house speaker systems.
Did I mention yet how good these things sound?
The bottom line is this: Bose does something similar to Sonos by giving you full house audio control via an intuitive app, but changes the game with the preset buttons, which make listening to your favorite music as quick and easy as flicking a light switch.