Sonos working with Apple to fix lock-screen controls

Until recently, the Sonos app would show playback controls on the lock screen of your iPhone, letting you skip tracks and control volume using the hardware controls on your phone. Then a new version of the Sonos app was released, and for many the lock-screen controls disappeared. Suddenly, controlling your music meant having to unlock your phone and launch the app.

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We sat down with Sonos to find out the reason for this and, most importantly, when a fix would be coming.

The issue is down to the way that lock-screen controls are implemented in iOS and how they interact with apps and network devices using AirPlay.

“There’s some complexity as we don’t own content,” explained Lidiane Jones, senior director, software product management at Sonos. “The API handle to manage content on the iOS platform is designed for content owners.”

To get lock-screen controls, Sonos had used a workaround in the iOS API that “Apple was not happy with”. As a result, Sonos was asked to remove the workaround from its app. The request, Sonos told us, was made with good reason; Apple was concerned that the workaround could cause problems for customers using AirPlay.

As it stands, lock-screen controls continue to work in homes that don’t have AirPlay devices – but are gone for those who do. As a result, the current advice from Sonos for users that want lock-screen controls returned is to disable third-party AirPlay endpoints – a far from ideal solution.

What about a proper fix, restoring everything to how it used to be? Well, hopefully, that should be coming soon as Sonos has said that it’s working with Apple to find a solution to the problem.

That’s reassuring to hear. The news from Sonos was that it understood the reasons behind Apple’s request to remove lock-screen controls, and now wants to work alongside the company to get them back using the right technique. Sonos recognises that this has caused much frustration amongst its users, and is committed to finding a solution as quickly as possible.

“If it takes many many hours to fix it, we will,” Jones reassured us.