The Good Lutron’s in-wall smart switches are reliable performers that work with Alexa, Nest, IFTTT, Apple HomeKit and more. The well-designed Lutron app is easy to use, and offers plenty of helpful features, including geofencing, scene management, and a security mode that’ll help make it look like you’re home when you’re not.
The Bad Lutron won’t let you program your lights to fade on or off over a custom length of time, and the Lutron Bridge requires a hardwired Ethernet connection to your router.
The Bottom Line These are the best-performing, most fully-featured smart switches currently available, and well worth the money if you’re serious about connected lighting.
Visit manufacturer site for details.
If you’re thinking of replacing your light switches with smart, app-enabled switches you can automate or control remotely, then Lutron belongs right at the top of your list. It’s not particularly close, either.
Put simply, these are the best smart switches money can currently buy. We’ve been testing them throughout the CNET Smart Home for months now, and they’re reliable, well-designed, easy-to-use, and loaded with helpful features. Plus, they work with just about everything: Alexa, IFTTT, Nest, Wink, Apple HomeKit — you name it.
A two-switch starter kit with the mandatory Lutron Bridge retails for $190, which definitely isn’t cheap — especially considering that Belkin WeMo Light Switches cost about $50 each, and don’t require any bridge at all. But, after testing both options extensively, I’m convinced that Lutron is the far superior choice, and well worth the extra cash. It’s smart lighting that actually feels smart, and a clear Editors’ Choice-winner for the connected home.
Lutron lights up the smart home with connected…
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Installation and design
Each Lutron switch requires you to connect three wires: line, load and ground.
In terms of looks, Lutron lands right in the smart switch sweet spot. Available in a variety of colors and tones, each switch looks appropriately fancy, yet still understated enough to blend in with most home decor.
That balance applies to the way you use the switches, too. Pressing the button at the top brings the lights to full brightness, while the button at the bottom fades them out. The buttons in the middle allow for fine adjustments. The smooth, gentle fades from setting to setting make each light feel like a high-tech, luxury fixture, but the controls are still perfectly familiar to anyone who’s ever used an ordinary old dimmer switch before.
Installing the switches is a cinch, so long as you’re comfortable flipping the power off at the breaker. All you’ll need is a screwdriver and a few minutes to swap one out. Just connect the three wires — line, load, ground — then screw the switch into place, snap the base plate over top of it, and flip the power back on at the breaker.
You’ll need to keep the Lutron Bridge plugged into your router.
From there, you’ll need to plug the Lutron Bridge into your router via Ethernet cable and connect to it using the Lutron app on your Android or iOS device. Then, you’ll pair each switch with the Bridge one at a time by holding a button down when the app tells you to (each Bridge can manage up to fifty devices). If you’re just talking about the two-switch starter kit, getting up and running should only take you about 30 minutes, if not less.
The Caseta switches communicate using Lutron’s proprietary “Clear Connect” wireless protocol, a radio frequency designed for reliability and to minimize interference. The Bridge’s job is to act as translator between the switches and your home network. You can also use the Wink Hub to control your Caseta gear, but you’ll lose out on Apple HomeKit compatibility.
Lutron wouldn’t share any specifics on the steps it takes to keep Clear Connect transmissions and customer data secure, but the nearly sixty-year-old company has a good track record here. A spokesperson adds, “Lutron’s first principle is to take care of the customer. Lutron adheres to and/or exceeds industry standards when it comes to the security of our products and protecting our customers.”
Lutron’s app is well-organized and easy to use, and even lets you customize the way things look with preset themes or pictures from your own home.
Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET
All about the app
Lutron’s app is a snappy standout, with a clean, neatly-organized design and customizable themes. You can tap to control individual lights right from the home screen, or setup preset lighting “scenes” to activate with a tap later. Those scenes can also include Lutron’s Serena shades if you have any.
Few of Google’s “projects” have been as fascinating to watch take shape like Tango, but now that the first phone with the AR equipment baked in has hit store shelves it’s not entirely clear who should invest in this tech.
The quick take
Tango remains an impressive collection of cool ideas, but the Phab 2 Pro is nowhere near ready to be considered a serious consumer product. Aside from being huge and awkward, Neither Lenovo nor Google’s software is fully baked enough for this to be a complete thought.
- Decent display
- Solid build quality
- Great battery life
- Huge and awkward
- Camera isn’t great
- Tango is half baked
- Lenovo’s notifications are awful
It’s very easy to think about Tango in individual contexts. We’ve seen it used as an incredible tour guide for museums, deployed on the International Space Station inside NASA’s SPHERES satellites, and even used as the eyes of an autonomous drone. The individual possibilities for using the computer vision tech in Google Tango has demonstrated itself as highly useful in very specific situations, but what happens when you put all of that tech in the hands of a consumer?
Lenovo’s Phab 2 Pro is the first retail product with Tango onboard, a massive smartphone with all the computer vision potential. You won’t find it in a carrier store next to the Moto Z, though. It’s available to purchase in Lowe’s hardware stores as a phone that gives users the ability to measure objects in space and even place objects in augmented reality so you can “see” the product in the home or office before you buy it. The suggestion here is that the phone isn’t really built for the Facebook generation, but is instead a smarter tool for contractors or interior designers to show their customers what their house could look like with a bit of help.
At the same time, Lenovo makes sure everyone knows this phone is also an entertainment powerhouse. A massive high resolution display with a quality audio system and a rich gaming experience thanks to the Tango Core, but it is lacking support for Google’s new Daydream VR platform. Lenovo’s selling points differ from what you see on the shelf at Lowe’s, which differs again from Google’s initial vision for Tango.
So, who is this phone for? Is this a massive media and gaming powerhouse? Will this become standard issue for contractors and interior decorators? Should eager tinkerers prepare little robots for this phone to power? Maybe all of the above? Read on to find out.
About this review
I’m writing this review after six days with a retail Lenovo Phab 2 Pro (model PB2-690Y) in Glen Burnie MD on T-Mobile. This review unit, which was provided by Lenovo, was using software version PB2-690Y_S100020_160924, based on Android 6.0.1 with the August 1, 2016 security patch.
You’ll need two hands
Lenovo Phab 2 Pro Hardware
As the name suggests, Lenovo’s Phab 2 Pro is a big phone aimed at people who want to do a lot on the go. As much as I despise the word phablet, it really does apply here. This behemoth gave me flashbacks to the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, only thicker and a lot more solid. Make no mistake, this is is only a phone for people who like massive screens and the batteries that drive them.
The outer casing isn’t anything special when it comes to design, but checks all the right boxes for a quality build. The aluminum body feels solid and has just the right amount of grip, with a nicely textured power key and a tactile volume rocker with very little wiggle. The edges of the phone have a slight chamfer that catches light well, but offers little towards making the phone comfortable to hold with one hand. Across the top of the phone you’ll find the headphone jack off to the left, and on the bottom of the phone you’ll find what looks like stereo speaker grilles on either side of a Micro-USB port. In reality, it’s a single Dolby Atmos speaker firing down with the other side for what Lenovo calls a 360-degree microphone array.
The front of this Phab 2 Pro is a single sheet of 2.5d curved Gorilla Glass. It’s not curved like the Galaxy S7 edge or LG G5, but the edges of the glass slope away into the bezel connector in a way that makes this phone a little easier to grip by the sides. Instead of software navigation keys like most Android phones, Lenovo went with the old school soft keys under the display. You only see those keys when lit up, which isn’t all the time, so when the display is off the only thing you see on the face of this phone is the camera off to the right of the top speaker. Toss in a couple of antenna lines on the top and bottom and a fingerprint sensor dead center of the back, and you’ve got a fairly generic looking phone. You know, as long as you ignore the three cameras taking up the top half of the phone.
This phone should have been an early Christmas present for nerds.
In order for Tango to work, Google uses a standard RGB sensor, and infrared sensor, and a fisheye lens. The standard 16MP sensor and infrared sensor work together to “see” things, and the fisheye lens adds human-style depth perception, among other things. All three of these cameras work together with the specially optimized Snapdragon 652 processor to give this phone the information needed for a successful Tango experience. You hold the phone up with two hands, look at the QHD IPS display as though you were peering into another world, and in theory Tango does the rest.
It’s difficult to imagine this phone with a case on it. The Phab 2 Pro is not fun to carry around in your pocket, both because it weighs more than half a pound and because the 6.4-inch display is noticeably larger than any phone I’ve tested over the last year. People using this phone for commercial reasons, like consulting on hardware installations, are going to want a case — which is going to make this phone even larger. It’s possible there are people out there who would buy this phone because it’s fairly inexpensive and gets you a massive display and a 4050mAh battery, but either way dropping this phone is not going to be fun for anyone.
No, really. When does this get good?
Lenovo Phab 2 Pro Software
This is the part where I, the VR and AR nerd, am supposed to tell you how much better your life would be if you had the ability to look through your phone and see another reality. Having followed Tango and drooled over the potential for years, this phone should have been an early Christmas present for nerds like me. Instead, Lenovo and Google seem to have tried their best to make this phone one of the least enjoyable experiences I’ve had in 2016.
Lenovo’s Android has never been great. Previous iterations of their software have been visually uninspiring and on several occasions included bloatware that bordered on offensive. After the purchase of Motorola and the release of the fairly impressive Yoga Book, it seemed as though Lenovo’s software was finally getting the overhaul it needed.
While Lenovo has worked hard to stay close to something that more closely resembles stock Marshmallow with this release, it all falls apart with the notifications. They’re transparent with either black or white text, which means no matter what wallpaper you’re using the notifications are often difficult to read in the best of lighting. Out in daylight, forget about it.
Lenovo and Google seem to have tried their best to make this phone one of the least enjoyable experiences I’ve had in 2016.
This phone does dial it way back on added software though. The only nonstandard apps installed are Accuweather, McAfee Security, Sound Recorder, and SYNCit for people who want a third-party backup tool for their phone. Sound recorder makes sense, given the special microphone array this phone has. The purpose is to offer a more complete 360-degree recording solution, and it works noticeably better than just sticking a recording app on a Pixel and leaving it on a table to record while you talk. This is a great feature for talking through something in an interview format, but there aren’t a ton of other uses for this microphone setup.
Obviously the big software feature here has basically nothing to do with Lenovo. Google Tango already has more apps in the Play Store than Google Daydream does, and only two are actually made by Google. These apps can be broken out into three basic categories:
Games take a look at the environment around you and overlay some kind of activity for you to interact with. This can be a small simulated city like Towers for Tango, a firing range where you point your phone and tap to shoot like Tango Targets, or a table full of puzzle pieces for you to walk around the real world and interact with. Most of these require fairly low accuracy and so work fairly well. There’s also some surprisingly big names, like Crayola Color Blaster and Hot Wheels Track Builder Tango.
Shopping apps let you browse Amazon, Wayfair, Lowe’s, and others for a variety of products and then show you what those products would look like in your home. The measurements offered in the product description and Tango’s computer vision work together to place objects in augmented reality so they don’t clash with anything in the real world, and as long as your room is well lit and you have a fairly open space this method of shopping works well.
Tool apps let you measure 2D and 3D spaces with an app, and allow you to store those measurements for later. This can be physical measurements or a way to observe things like signal strength for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular networks in the real world. These apps require accuracy to be effective, which means wide open spaces and proper lighting to “see” everything clearly. Even in perfect conditions, tool apps still have a high failure rate.
Very little in this software experience works the way it should.
While games are a great way to show someone Tango and give a starting idea for what computer vision is all about, it’s a serious problem that these are the most accurate apps in the Tango arsenal. Not only is this setup only useful indoors, but even in ideal conditions the software isn’t reliable. Google’s Measure app starts with a warning that it’s meant for estimation and not for accuracy. Shopping apps are more reliable when you’re in a well lit room, but fail quickly in low light and handles collision poorly if your goal is to see how well a corner table would look with two real couches on either side.
Very little in this software experience works the way it should. Between the frequent failure rate of individual apps to Lenovo’s aggressively mediocre implementation of Android, it’s not entirely obvious who would enjoy this experience enough to justify spending money exclusively for playing with Tango. I say playing because that’s basically what you’re doing with these apps. The tools aren’t accurate enough to be considered useful by real contractors. The shopping apps would only be useful to interior designers in an empty, well-lit home. The games are only fun if you happen to have a ton of free space in you home to enjoy them, which isn’t a ton of people.
Dragons are cool, I guess.
Lenovo Phab 2 Pro Experience
You know how some phones just sort of disappear in your pocket? This is not one of those phones. The good news is I don’t think I’d ever misplace this phone, regardless of how long I used it. The less good news is I can’t take this phone anywhere without either putting it in my jacket pocket or wearing a belt. It’s not that the phone is big — though really, this is such a huge damn phone — it’s the weight. Some of that is top be expected with a huge battery and a metal body and the additional hardware, but comparing the weight of this phone to every other on my desk is incredible.
Speaking of that big battery, if I don’t touch the Tango features at all, I can get through a normal 16 hour day with 55% battery remaining when I go to sleep. With Quick Charge 2.0 on board, I can recharge this phone in minutes and basically never worry about it dying. Unless, of course, I start a Tango app. On average, Tango apps drain 10% of the battery for every 15 minutes of use, which is insane. It’s no shock that three cameras and the act of processing that information while displaying content on the screen consumes battery, but you can crush almost half of the battery on this phone with an hour of Tango use. There aren’t a lot of situations that call for an hour of Tango use though, so it’s unlikely to be a huge deal in day to day use.
There’s a lot of promise in tech like Tango, but this phone was not ready for primetime.
It cannot be overstated how poorly Tango operates in less than ideal situations. The Signal Mapper app failed 16 out of the 18 times I tested it. Between Google Measure and the measure tool in the Lowe’s app, I got a mostly accurate measurement twice after using both apps every day for nearly a week. The number of time I’ve seen “Unfortunately, Tango Core has stopped” is embarrassing. In no way should this experience be on a store shelf right now.
But at the same time, the promise of Tango remains. This tech is so damn cool, and now that it’s in a form factor that can generously be called a phone at a reasonable price it’s accessible to way more people. This may not deserve to be a consumer product yet, but Project Tango as a concept is something incredible and powerful. Right now it just only works when you’re inside a big empty room and conditions are perfect.
Some of that may be due to Lenovo’s primary camera. It’s not the best sensor for grabbing detail, and in low light the sensor struggles a lot. I found myself frequently wondering what would happen if a Tango Pixel existed, with a sensor that handled low light like a champion and could combine powerful AR with Google Daydream VR. That’s obviously not happening anytime soon, but it’s a cool thought. In the mean time, Lenovo’s camera does include a cute AR mode that lets you overlay some animals for you to take some photos. Here’s a quick look at some of the shots I grabbed this week.
There’s a lot of promise in tech like Tango, but usually that promise is in contained experiences. A detailed 3D guide of a store is cool, but only if enough people own something that justifies the experience. This could be great when specialized for specific things, but on its own it’s difficult to imagine wanting this phone in my pocket every day.
The bottom line
Should you buy the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro? Probably not
Is it possible that Tango will improve with time? Sure. At one third the cost of Google Glass — that’s $499 for the uninitiated — it’s the kind of thing we’ll see show up at hacker spaces for cool one-off ideas over the next two years. It’s difficult to imagine this being the kind of thing you see someone casually using in public, and it’s even more difficult to imagine a professional using this to enhance their work and being satisfied with the results right now.
But as a daily driver, even if you’re really hyped about Tango and Augmented Reality? This isn’t what you want, at least not yet.
See at Lowe’s
Other offers include 40% off accessories, A9 for $275.
HTC is the latest phone maker to given an early launch its Black Friday deals, with a wide range of offers on some of its high-profile phones and accessories. The flagship HTC 10 is down to $499 unlocked, $200 off the standard price, in all four color options. The RE camera — HTC’s fun, if underappreciated little action cam — is yours for a mere $75, while the UA Band gets slashed to $79.
Other accessories are on sale for 40% off — including the HTC Ice View case for $29.99, and HTC’s Quick Charge 3.0 charger for $20.99.
See at HTC
Elsewhere, the HTC One M9 is on sale for $300, while the One A9 drops to $275. We’d think twice before spending that kind of money on the almost two-year-old M9. An A9 for $275 isn’t spectacular value, but you could certainly do worse.
The deals are only live on HTC’s U.S. site right now; we’re expecting similar offers in Canada and the UK later this week.
More: Black Friday 2016 deals
- HTC 10 review
- HTC 10 specs
- All HTC 10 news
- These are the HTC 10 colors
- Join our HTC 10 forums
New branding should make it clearer that standalone dongles, and devices with integrated casting, all belong to the same ecosystem.
Google is phasing out the “Google Cast” brand for devices with casting support built in, Variety reports. The move comes shortly after the launch of Google Home and Chromecast Ultra, the company’s latest products with casting support. Right now the Google Cast site refers to both names — the old Google Cast and the new Chromecast built-in.
Yesterday the official Google Cast Twitter account became “Google Chromecast” — @Chromecast.
@GoogleCast is now @Chromecast.
The branding change won’t alter how Google Cast Chromecast works, but it will make it clearer to consumers that their existing Chromecast dongle, and their fancy new TV with Cast built-in, and that Google Home they might be thinking about buying, all belong to the same ecosystem. It’s the latest move in a branding back-and-forth that’s been going on since the first Chromecast dongle was first unveiled back in 2013.
It’s understandable how Google might have resisted including “Chrome” in the name, since the Chrome browser is no longer central to how many people cast stuff. (It’s way easier to control what you cast with a phone or tablet.) Getting rid of the “Google” in Google Cast might seem counterproductive to the firm’s recent efforts to establish itself as a big player in hardware. Nevertheless, it makes sense to push “Chromecast” — already the name of a highly successful product — as the single brand for everything using the technology.
- Chromecast and Chromecast Audio review
- Chromecast Ultra vs Roku
- Chromecast vs Chromecast Ultra: Which should you buy?
- Join the discussion in our forums
Samsung Galaxy S7 Android 7.0 Nougat release date: When to expect the GS7’s biggest software upgrade
It’s possible — but by no means guaranteed — that updates for some models could arrive by the end of the year.
The Galaxy Beta Program is allowing some Galaxy S7 and S7 edge owners to get an early taste of Android 7.0 Nougat. But as for anyone who doesn’t want to use potentially buggy pre-release software, we’re left waiting on an official rollout for what’s turning out to be a substantial update.
So when’s it due out? Officially, Samsung’s not saying. But there are a few clues out in the wild.
Firstly, there’s Samsung’s GS7 Nougat beta program, which the firm says will run until “mid-December.” Earlier this year, the Galaxy S6 Marshmallow beta ran until late January, having begun in late December. The official GS6 Marshmallow updates then began from early February, starting in Korea.
South Korea will probably see the update first, followed by unlocked European GS7s.
So if the timings line up for Nougat, it’s possible we’ll see the first stable Nougat updates for the GS7 series arriving in late December 2016 or early January 2017. If history is any indication, Samsung’s home market of South Korea will get updates first, followed by unlocked European devices.
For carrier-locked variants, particularly in the United States, you could be waiting another month or more. (Spring 2017 might be a more realistic estimate for the GS7 on U.S. carriers.) That said, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon have participated in the Galaxy Beta program this year, and Samsung has been relatively timely in its rollout of Android’s monthly security patches for its 2016 flagships.
We probably won’t know for sure until the updates are almost ready to roll out. But depending on where you live, your carrier, and which model you have, there’s at least a fighting chance you could be seeing in the new year with Android 7.0 Nougat on your Galaxy S7.
Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge
- Galaxy S7 review
- Galaxy S7 edge review
- U.S. unlocked Galaxy S7
- Should you upgrade to the Galaxy S7?
- Best SD cards for Galaxy S7
- Join our Galaxy S7 forums
- Android 7.0 Nougat: Everything you need to know
- Will my phone get Android Nougat?
- Google Pixel + Pixel XL review
- All Android Nougat news
- How to manually update your Nexus or Pixel
- Join the Discussion
Canadians can now get in on the Blue Coral GS7 love.
Samsung is bringing more of its highly-awaited mobile products to Canada this week with the Gear S3 classic and frontier, and the Blue Coral Galaxy S7.
The former, the Gear S3 series, is a successor to the popular Gear S2, featuring bigger displays, larger batteries and GPS connectivity for more accurate tracking. While Canadians won’t have access to the LTE-enabled version of the Gear S3, the improvements in battery life alone should be worth the price of admission. Both models, the streamlined classic and more rugged frontier, retail for $469 CDN; the smaller, aging Gear S2s are still on sale for between $319 and $369.
More: Samsung Gear S3 preview
See at Samsung
The Blue Coral Galaxy S7 is also available in Canada, both through Samsung’s Experience stores and online, and via pre-order from Rogers. It’s the same phone, just in a new color, but it proved extremely popular with the Note 7, so Samsung should find considerable success with it here.
More: Samsung Galaxy S7 review
See at Samsung
Anyone jumping on these two new products? Let us know in the comments!
Sonos has one of the strongest multi-room offerings out there. Its speaker line-up is not only plentiful, with several combinations possible, but the platform that controls everything is one of the best out there, if not the best.
If you’ve opted for Sonos over its competitors, of which there are several, then you’ve come to the right place. This feature is all about making sure you get the most out of your Sonos system.
Some of these tips and tricks you might already know, but there are bound to be a few that you don’t and anything that allows you to listen to your favourite music more easily is a bonus in our book.
Sonos installation tips and tricks
Add another speaker or SUB to your Sonos system
Bought a new speaker or the Sonos SUB and want to add it to your existing system? This is easy. Tap the three lines in the top left corner of the app > Settings > Add a Player or SUB and follow the instructions.
Add a BOOST to your Sonos System
If your Wi-Fi network isn’t the strongest and has a couple of weak spots, you may have bought yourself a BOOST to help get a signal in a particular room. To add a BOOST, head to the three lines in the top left corner > Settings > Add a BOOST.
Get the best out of your Sonos speakers
Sonos offers a feature called Trueplay that will tune your speakers according to their surroundings, even if that’s in a cupboard. To make sure you get the best sound out of each speaker in your Sonos system, head to the three lines in the top left > Room Settings > Select Room > Trueplay. Make sure you tune all the speakers in your system.
- What is Sonos Trueplay and how does it work?
- How to tune your existing Sonos speaker with Trueplay to make it sound better
Adjust the EQ to your personal preference
All about that bass, that bass, no treble? No problem, you can adjust the EQ settings for each Sonos speaker you have set up. To do this, head to the three lines in the top left > Settings > Room Settings.
From here, you’ll need to select the room that has the speaker or speakers in that you want to adjust, then tap on EQ and slide the bars to suit your preferences.
Change a room name
Changed your office to a bedroom, or moved your Play:1 into the bathroom? That’s fine as changing room names in Sonos is simple. Click on the three lines in the top left > Room Settings > Select Room > Room Name.
Create a stereo pair
You can combine two of the same Sonos speaker together in the same room, in order to create left and right speakers of a stereo pair. Whether that’s two Play:1s, Play:3s or Play:5s, the stereo pair setting is accessed through Room Settings.
Click on the three lines in the top left > Room Settings > Select Room > Create Stereo Pair > Follow the instructions.
Make use of your existing Hi-Fi system
Investing in Sonos doesn’t mean your existing Hi-Fi system has to become redundant. The Sonos Connect has analogue, optical and coaxial digital audio outputs, as well as a line-in, allowing you to connect any device you want, from a turntable to a DAC.
There is also the Connect:Amp available in the Sonos range that features an RCA line-in and a subwoofer line-out, providing a streaming upgrade for your favourite stand-alone speakers.
- Which Sonos speaker is best for you? Play:1, Play:3, Play:5 or Playbar
Sonos setup tips and tricks
Make sure your Sonos system is always running the latest software
Sonos delivers regular software updates, some of which are small, others of which are more significant, like Spotify Connect compatibility. Running the latest software means you’ll get the best experience from your Sonos speakers so it’s a good idea to set your system up to automatically check for updates.
Click on the three lines in the top left > Settings > Advanced Settings > Toggle on Auto Check for Updates.
Override audio compression settings
Sonos presets the best audio compression for player Line-In and Sonos DOCK but it can be overridden to be uncompressed or compressed. To do this, head to the three lines in the top left > Settings > Advanced Settings > Audio Compression > Select desired setting.
If you want to disassociate a smartphone or tablet from one Sonos setup and reconnect it to a separate Sonos system, you can use the reset controller option. Tap on the three lines in the top left of the app > Settings > Advanced Settings > Reset Controller > Reset.
Turn off your usage data
Sonos collects information on how you use your Sonos system. It doesn’t give it to third parties but if you’d still rather keep your usage data private, you can turn it off. Click on the three lines in the top left of the app > Settings > Advanced Settings > Usage Data > Toggle off.
Turn the LED light off
If you have a Sonos speaker on your bedside table or in your bedroom and you’ve chosen to play music to send you to sleep, you might not want the LED light on.
To turn it off, click on the three lines in the top left of the app > Settings > Room Settings > Select the room you want your speaker light off > Toggle off White Indicator Light.
Double tap to skip
The play/pause button on your Sonos speaker doesn’t just play and pause songs. Double tap it and you’ll be able to skip to the next track, without opening the app.
If you have the new Sonos Play:5, a swipe left will play the previous track, while a swipe right will skip forward to the next one.
Mute a single speaker
A long press of the play/pause button will mute the speaker you are pressing it on so you can take a phone call in your office, but still have the music playing in your living room, for example.
Disable the swipe functionality on the Play:5
For those of you with the new Play:5 and kids or cats who like to touch it or climb on the controls, you can disable the swipe functionality.
To do this, hold down the pair button for 10 seconds when the speaker is fully booted to disable the swipe interface. You’ll then press it once to leave it in that state.
Skip tracks on your smartwatch or lock screen
An update to the Sonos software earlier in 2016 means you can now skip tracks, as well as pause and play directly from your lock screen, and wrist if you have a smartwatch connected to your smartphone.
It is available on both Android Wear and Apple Watch smartwatches, using your phone’s lock screen controls to present you with the functionality on your wrist.
Use 3D Touch to play last song or radio station
For those with an iPhone 6S or newer, the Sonos app works with 3D Touch, Apple’s version of a touch sensitive display that presents different features to you based on the force with which you press.
A long hard press on the Sonos app icon will allow you to pause or play the most recent track you were listening to without opening the app first. You’ll also be able to launch Favourites or Search.
Sonos features tips and tricks
Add a playlist to Sonos Favourites
Sonos Favourites is great for those playlists you love listening to all the time. Adding your favourites to Sonos Favourites makes them much more accessible so there is no need to search for them or open your chosen music streaming service to find them. It works for playlists, songs, radio stations, bands and artists.
To add a playlist to Sonos Favourites, tap on the respective list > Click the top three dots in the top right > Add to Sonos Favourites.
Add a song to Sonos Favourites
Just like adding a playlist, adding a song to Sonos Favourites makes it easier to find. Find the song you’re looking for > Click on the three dots on the right > Click More > Add Song to Sonos Favourites.
Add a playlist to Sonos Playlists
Sonos Playlist works in a similar way to Sonos Favourites but it is all about playlists, making them nice and accessible. To add a playlist to Sonos Playlists, find the playlist you want to add > Tap on the three dots in the top right corner > Add to Sonos Playlist.
Create a new Sonos Playlist
The Sonos Playlist section will not only allow you to add curated playlists, but also make your own. Click on the three lines in the top left-hand corner of the Sonos app > Sonos Playlists > Click on the three dots in the top right-hand corner > New Playlist > Name Playlist.
It will then appear in the Sonos Playlist section ready for you to add songs to it.
Add a song to Sonos Playlists
Adding a song to a Sonos Playlist you’ve created or a playlist that has been created by somebody else but added to the Sonos Playlist section is easy. Find the song > Tap the three dots > More > Add to Sonos Playlist > Select the playlist you want to add it to.
Edit Sonos Playlists
You might have really liked a playlist a few months ago, but now every song within it drives you nuts. No problem. Tap on the three lines in the top left-hand corner of the app > Select Sonos Playlists > Tap on the three dots in the top right-hand corner > Edit Playlists > Tap on the playlist you want to delete > Press Delete.
Add songs to Queue
The Queue is for those days you want a selection of random songs rather than selecting a specific album or playlist you or someone else has already built.
Tap on the Search icon in the top right corner > Select Songs > Type in any song title > Tap the three dots to the right of the song title once you’ve found it > Add to End of Queue.
Edit the Queue
If you want to edit the Queue, or see what songs you’ve added to the Queue, tap on the three-line menu icon in the lower right-hand corner to view your Queue. Following this, you can Clear, Edit or Save the Queue by tapping on the respective option at the bottom of the screen.
Edit will allow you drag and drop the songs into the order you want, while Save will enable you to save the Queue as a Playlist and give it a name. It will appear under Sonos Playlists so you can find it easily next time you fancy that random mix.
Create a group or ungroup speakers
The idea of a multi-room system is to allow you to play music in multiple rooms. To group speakers together or ungroup them, tap on the room at the top of the app > Click on Group > Select or deselect various speakers. Those ticked will play the same music.
Play different music in different rooms
To play different music on different Sonos speakers, you just need to select what you want each speaker to play and group the speakers you want to play the same music together. Once grouped, you can select what you want each group of speakers, or singular speaker to play.
As mentioned above, speakers are accessed by tapping the room at the top of the app. From here you can group them, or ungroup them.
Add a music service
Sonos supports a huge range of music services, from the usual suspects like Spotify to the lesser known services. It’s worth adding all the services you are subscribed to if you want the best possible experience.
To add a music service, head to the three lines in the top left of the app > Click on Add Music Service > Tap on the respective music service from the list > Add to Sonos > Sign in.
Search for a song/album/artist/station/podcast
Searching for a song, album, artist, radio station, podcast, composer or even genre on Sonos is really easy. Using the search function within the Sonos app will search all the music services you are signed into, enabling you to play whatever you’ve found with just a couple more clicks.
To search, head to the top right corner of the app where the magnifying tool is and start typing into the search bar.
Turn Crossfade on
Want to make sure your home or office is never silent? You can turn the Crossfade feature on when listening to an album, enabling one Beyonce song to blend directly into the next. To do this, tap on the three dots of a song within a particular artist’s album > Toggle Crossfade on.
Set an alarm
Want to wake up to your favourite song, get your Playbar to fire up when a match starts so you don’t miss kick off, or play some songs half way through the day to stimulate your pet? Tap on the three lines in the top left of the app > Alarms > New Alarm > Set the time, room, music, frequency and volume > Save.
You can choose how long you want the alarm to play for and send it to other Sonos speakers in other rooms in Advanced Settings within the Alarm section. It’s also possible to set different alarms for each Sonos speaker in your home.
Set a sleep timer
If you like falling asleep to music, you can get your Sonos speaker to play you a lullaby, or your version of a lullaby. Choose the album, song or station you want to fall asleep to and open the Now Playing screen, which is the one with the album art and volume control.
Following this, tap on the three dots > Select Sleep Timer > Choose the Duration.
Make the most of TuneIn Radio
TuneIn Radio is free on Sonos, but it isn’t just useful for listening to your favourite radio station. You could use it to replace the TV commentators with your favourite radio commentary team instead, for example.
Tap the three dots in the top left > Radio by TuneIn > Select category or search for the station you want. Don’t be afraid to try new stations, it’s free after all.
Catch every comment
If you’ve got a Playbar, there is a feature called Speech Enhancement that will boost the sound of voices, ensuring you’ll hear commentators, or actors and actresses in films.
Tap on the three dots in the top left > TV > Tap on the square speech icon and turn it orange to turn Speech Enhancement on.
Use Night Sound for more considerate late-night viewing
This is another one for those of you with a PlayBar. Turning Night Sound on will enhance quiet sounds and suppress louder sounds to make sure you don’t have neighbours knocking on your door asking you to turn the volume down.
Tap on the three dots in the top left > TV > Tap on the moon icon and turn it orange to turn Night Sound on.
Hear your favourite TV programme all over your house
Want to hear the football commentary from the bathroom, or have MTV playing throughout your house? If you have a Playbar, group it with the other Sonos speakers in your home where you want to hear what’s playing on your TV.
Bring your own music
Love your friends but hate their taste in music? No problem, just play your own good music through their Sonos speakers. You’ll need to get onto their Wi-Fi, but once you’re on, open the Sonos app and add the songs you love to their Queue.
Use Sonos for a bedtime story
We say bedtime story, but it could be any recorded message from family, friends or loved ones that you want to fill your home with. Ask the recorder to send you the MP3 file, sync it with your music library and you’ll be able to play it using the On this iPhone/Device feature.
Find out what you listen to most on your Sonos system
If you want to know how often you listen to Taylor Swift or Fleetwood Mac, signing up to Last.fm online is the way to find out. Sign in to Last.fm within the Sonos app and it will show you your listening habits.
Join the Sonos Beta Program
If you want to test out the latest features before they are launched properly, you can sign up to the Beta Program to try out pre-release software. To join, head to the three lines in the top left > Settings > Advanced Settings > Beta Program > Join Beta Program.