Posted by: David | March 1, 2013

Creating a Dedicated Sonos Remote from an ipod touch

I am an avid Sonos fan, I think the product is awesome, I am only at the beginning of my Sonos Collection.  Lets be honest in terms of HiFi equipment Sonos isn’t the most expensive out there but at the same time it is not the cheapest either. For this reasons the CR-200 has always been one of those items that would have been nice to have but not essential.

I understand with the introduction of remote app’s for tablets and mobiles why Sonos have taken the decision to remove the product from their portfolio but at the same time I can’t help but feel they have left us will a hole in the market.

I don’t mind controlling my couple of Play3’s with the mobile app’s, the wife however hates it, she often leaves the phone in another room or on another floor which means its not so easy to flick the radio on in the Kitchen. It is also not without its limitations, I have found both with the iphone and android devices in order to preserve power they often switch wifi off when in standby this means when you pull them out of your pocket to adjust the volume or switch a track sometimes you can have a 15-30second delay while the phone re-connects to the wireless before you can adjust your Sonos.

So enough was enough I needed a dedicated remote, only to find they are now pretty much out of stock in most places. So I had a couple of old devices floating about could I use one of these as a dedicated remote for Sonos.

My first thought was to use an old Android handset, with the later Sonos controller apps you can join the Android handset to Sonos.net and also the OS is more open leading to easier customization. After a bit of research I decided that at the moment I don’t have the time to embark on customising an image and uploading it to a rooted handset and all the testing involved in that, secondly (and the killer of the idea for me) was that you could not by a desktop charging stand for the particular spare handset I had and the generic ones were too big.

I also happened to have a Gen 3 ipod touch that doesn’t get much use as the battery life isn’t great and I stream music to my mobile. After a bit of research looking for a kiosk mode (I believe this is now an option in iOS6 but this isnt supported on my touch) I came across application profiling, this is designed by Apple to allow corporates to lock down Apple devices for security reasons. But it can also be used for my application, this profile when installed will lock the ipod / iphone / ipad to the first application that is opened after reboot by disabling the home button.

Installing the profile is simple, just open safari and browse to this URL : http://ipadhire.co.nz/res/lockdown.mobileconfig

You will then be prompted to install the profile.

After reboot open the Sonos controller and then thats it. Locking and unlocking the ipod will take you straight back to the Sonos app where you left it, because the Sonos app is always open there is no waiting about for wireless or connection to your devices, it is on and ready to go, and you can pick up a really cheap charging dock from amazon or ebay, before I installed the profile I also disabled the lock screen timer so the ipod never locks or turns the screen off unless you press the button the top, and because the App is always on and the ipod mainly in a charging dock the wireless doesnt turn itself off either.

Should you wish to remove the lock down this can be done with the following procedure.

  1. Reboot
  2. Open the settings app FIRST – don’t open anything else or you will need to reboot again
  3. Settings->General->Profiles->Home Button Lock remove it.
  4. Reboot

I know this doesn’t have all the functionality of the CR-200, it doesnt wake on pick up and there are no dedicated buttons to adjust the volume but seeing as you can pick up a touch pretty cheaply second hand on ebay you can make yourself a pretty good alternative for under £100 quid.

I am still looking in to the options for an android device, there are some kiosk apps that will lock a device down to one app, but I think tweaking to get other functionality like wake on g-sensor movement could be worth it. If I get anywhere I will let you know.

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