New Sonos controller streams directly from iOS devices

I’ve been using Sonos in my home for years, and would find it hard to live without all my music in every room in my house. The original Sonos model required that you had the computer with your music library powered up and connected to your network at all times, but a far easier solution was to keep your music on a NAS appliance and stream from there.

As Sonos evolved, it started to support online music streaming services, and now you can play tracks from a plethora of online services such as Napster, Rdio and Spotify. But now Sonos has moved the game on again, with its latest iOS controller update supporting playback from the iOS device itself.

I was given early access to the new software yesterday, and once installed I found a new option under the Music menu – This iPhone. By selecting This iPhone you’re essentially able to stream your iTunes library direct from your iPhone – obviously you’ll see This iPod or This iPad if you’re using a different iOS device.

Although my iTunes library is identical to the Music Library that my Sonos system already has direct access to, accessing it via my iPhone does bring a few advantages. For a start, all of my iTunes playlists are available to me, but I also have the option of easily playing Podcasts over my Sonos system – I’m not a big Podcast fan myself, but I have enough friends who are to know that this will be welcomed.

But for me there’s a far more tangible benefit to this update, and it has nothing to do with my home Sonos installation. We have a Sonos system running in the office too, and there have been many occasions when I’ve wanted to play something from my own music collection over the Sonos speakers, but wasn’t able to. Now, however, I can stream anything that’s in my own collection through the office setup – great news for me, but probably less so for everyone else in the office!

The new controller requires iOS 6, so if you’ve been holding off on upgrading to avoid Apple Maps, you’ve got a decision to make. Hardware wise, you’ll need an iPhone 3GS or later, an iPod touch 4th gen or later, an iPad 3rd gen or later or an iPad mini.

If the simplicity of Apple AirPlay has been tempting potential buyers away from Sonos, this latest update should take that consideration out of the equation.

There’s no news on when or whether we’ll see an Android controller with similar functionality, but let’s hope it’s not far behind.