Great news for Sonos customers: AirPlay 2 has arrived. This makes compatible Sonos speakers the first third-party AirPlay 2 speakers to hit the market, and support is being added retroactively through a free software update.
This means you can use Sonos speakers to play audio from iTunes on the Mac and all iPhone and iPad apps including Music, TV, YouTube, and Netflix. Sonos speakers can also be used for multi-room audio playback with HomePod and Apple TV, and Siri can control Apple Music and Podcasts playback from iPhone, iPad, HomePod, or Apple TV.
Sonos customers have long requested AirPlay support for their speakers, but Sonos cited issues with latency and playback interruptions as reasons for not adopting Apple’s wireless streaming protocol. Sonos changed their tune when Apple unveiled AirPlay 2 which reduces latency and accounts for Wi-Fi interruptions.
AirPlay 2 works with the newest Sonos speakers (recognizable by their touch controls instead of hardware buttons) which includes Sonos Beam, Sonos Playbase, Sonos One, and the second-gen Sonos Play:5.
You’re not totally out of luck if you have other Sonos speakers, but AirPlay 2 is a lot easier to use on newer speakers. Older Sonos speakers can work with AirPlay 2 when paired with compatible speakers (like a Sonos Play:1 paired with a Sonos One as a single stereo speaker). You can also press play on an older Sonos speaker without AirPlay 2 to pick up the audio stream from a compatible Sonos speaker.
As AirPlay 2 speakers, Sonos speakers can now appear in the Home app where they can be assigned a room and name. This lets you specify which speaker you want to target when talking to Siri.
For example, you can say “Play 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast in the bedroom” to Siri on your iPhone if you have a Sonos speaker with AirPlay 2 assigned to Bedroom in the Home app. You can also say “Play My New Music Mix everywhere” to Siri on HomePod and music will play on both HomePod and any AirPlay 2 Sonos speakers. You can also see Sonos speakers with AirPlay 2 as speaker options in the AirPlay picker in apps and Control Center. This works for single speakers or groups of AirPlay 2 speakers.
Note that with AirPlay 2, audio is streaming from a source device (iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, HomePod, Mac) to the Sonos speaker over Wi-Fi. Sonos can play Apple Music directly when using the Sonos controller app, but Siri control is limited to playback from a source device over Wi-Fi.
Sonos customers can update compatible speakers through the software update section of the Sonos controller app today. For iOS users, start by updating the Sonos controller app in the App Store, then look for the new software update within the Sonos app for compatible speakers. Learn more about the Sonos update here.
- These are the third-party speakers Apple says will support AirPlay 2
- Review: Sonos Beam is the perfect smart soundbar for bedrooms and apartments
- Sonos says AirPlay 2 will be supported by Sonos One, Play:5, and Playbase only
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