Most people are drawn to Sonos for its vast audio streaming options, but it’s also possible to play your own audio files via line-in, Bluetooth, AirPlay, and network-attached storage (NAS). Android users have long had another option: they can easily play audio files stored locally on their device across a Sonos system at full quality. But that last option is going away soon.
Sonos has updated its website with a notice that says “starting May 23rd, 2023, we’re removing the ability to play audio files directly to Sonos using the ‘On this device’ menu in the Sonos app for Android.” The company recommends that customers either upload those tracks to a streaming service — YouTube Music is great for this — or get a NAS solution up and running if they want local files to remain playable on their Sonos hardware.
The timing is quite something, though almost certainly coincidental. Sonos and Google are currently facing off in federal court over patent infringement. But I’m guessing the “on this device” feature was used so little that the company deemed it wasn’t worth keeping around anymore. Sonos removed the equivalent feature on iOS three years ago, saying at the time that “the way this feature was originally designed has become unreliable with newer versions of iOS and Sonos” and that the company’s support of AirPlay made it redundant.
The reasoning sounds similar for Android. “As newer versions of mobile operating systems are released, it can sometimes change the way information is shared between devices, and this feature will no longer be compatible with newer versions of the Android operating system,” a Sonos rep wrote on the company’s support forums.
With several Bluetooth-capable speakers now on the market and after expanding line-in playback to the recent Era 100 and Era 300 products, Sonos seems to think its bases are covered with local files, even if they can’t be streamed to the platform directly from an Android any longer. Keep in mind that you’re able to play music via Bluetooth to a Roam or Era speaker and then pass that audio to other Sonos speakers that are part of your system. But if you don’t want to lose any audio fidelity, line-in or a NAS drive are your best options.