Sonos update: Smart speaker company reveals new operating system that will not work on older products

Sonos has revealed a major new software update that will affect its entire ecosystem.

The company says the new operating system will allow its connected speakers to get new features such as higher quality audio, new features such as the option to automatically group rooms, and lay a foundation for more updates in the future.

But it will not be available for older speakers, which will be cut off from the new software and any speakers that are running it.

The company provoked anger among many users when it announced in January that it would be cutting off software updates for older devices in the coming months. It only said then that the older products had “stretched to their technical limits in terms of memory and processing power”, but not what Sonos needed that extra power to do.

It is the new operating system that required that extra hardware to be able to work, Sonos now says.

All of the speakers that were said to be too old to keep receiving updates will not get the update, but everything else will be upgraded to what it is calling “S2”. The affected products are the original Zone Players, Connect and Connect:Amp (sold between 2006 and 2015), Play:5 (Gen 1), CR200, and Bridge.

Sonos will keep the current version of the app and software around, and re-name it “S1”. That will still be able to power older devices, and it will still get bug fixes and security patches – but Sonos has warned that new features will not arrive and they may use their connection to streaming services and voice control.

Users with those older speakers will be given a choice of different options to get hold of the new update. They can either remove the S1-only products entirely; trade them up with Sonos for a 30 per cent discount on new purchases; stick with the S1 app and miss out on the new feature and products; or separate their system into two, effectively giving them two separate networks of older and newer speakers.

Sonos customers who do not have any of the older speakers will be able to upgrade as normal when the new operating system arrives.

The new update will arrive in June, Sonos said, but any products released after May will run the S2 software and app exclusively, meaning they will never be able to run in a system with the much older products. The company did not comment on whether that timeframe meant that a new product launch is scheduled for May.

It gave limited information on the new operating system, which it said “will power the next generation of products and experiences”. It mentioned “new experiences such as increased personalisation and higher resolution audio formats for music and home theater”, pointing to upgraded audio bandwidth and features such as “room groups”, which will automatically identify speakers that tend to be used together.

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