Sonos updates its privacy policy and seemingly hints they’ll begin selling user data

Audio brand Sonos is ruffling the feathers of its user base again after it was discovered the company had made an important update to its private policy. As pointed out by YouTuber and repair technician Louis Rossman, the change affects the “How We May Share Personal Information” section. 

The old policy had a line that read, “Sonos does not and will not sell personal information about our customers.” After that, the rest of the paragraph discussed how certain data practices could be considered as a “sale of data” in certain US states.

Now, if you look at the June 2024 update, the line about Sonos not selling personal data is gone. The rest of the paragraph regarding data practices is exactly the same, though. 

It may be one small change, but it was enough to start a wildfire among the user base. People are not happy at all. Rossman’s video was posted to the Sonos subreddit, and its comment section is a non-stop barrage of people criticizing the brand.

Privacy worries

Users in the post seem to believe the policy change means Sonos will begin selling customer data to third parties. One person argues the brand is alienating its loyal customer base and wants to rebuild its business “with consumers who just don’t care about privacy.” These sentiments are echoed by others, and as you can see, the overall attitude is very cynical.

Interestingly, the line seems to only be gone in the US policy. We checked the Canadian, Spanish, British, and Australian privacy pages and that line about Sonos not selling customer information is still there and is in bold text. 

It’s unknown why only the American policy was changed. A comment we saw online argues that it could be because consumer protection laws in other countries may be more strict than those in the US.

Analysis: benefit of the doubt

You can’t really blame these consumers too much for such a negative reaction. Internet privacy and data collection have been hot topics for many years as people worry about big tech spying on them. It’s a major concern that has proven itself to be legitimate over time. Plus, Sonos users haven’t been too happy with the brand after being burned by a recent app update that removed basic features. 

However, it’s possible that people are just blowing things out of proportion. The removal of the first line doesn’t necessarily mean Sonos is selling customer data to make a quick buck. In fact, this whole situation reminds us a lot of what happened to Adobe.

If you’re not aware, Adobe also changed its Terms of Use policy not too long ago. The policy had text that led users to believe the company would be taking the content they made to train their AI. Adobe has since clarified the wording in the update, assuring their customers that it won’t actually look at or take anything. It was all one big misunderstanding.

We’re going to give Sonos the benefit of the doubt here and assume this is just a misunderstanding and that the policy change was some legal thing they had to do in the US. To learn more, we reached out to Sonos, asking if it could clarify what the change means to its users and we'll update this story if we hear back.

Til then, check out TechRadar's list of the best Bluetooth speakers for 2024.

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Here’s what third-party iPhone app stores will look like – and how they’ll work

Big changes are coming to the iOS App Store for users in the European Union (EU), as Apple has announced it will soon start allowing third-party app stores to distribute apps to users from a host of European nations. And now, we’ve gained our first look at what these stores could look like.

AltStore, an existing provider of “sideloaded” apps, has announced they’re working on bringing their own alternative app store to iOS. That will move the store out of its current gray area of providing unofficial apps and transform it into what its developer calls a “legitimate app marketplace“.

Right now, AltStore provides a range of apps that fall foul of Apple’s existing App Store rules. For example, it hosts Delta, a Nintendo games console emulator, and UTM, a virtual machine that allows you to run Linux, Windows and more on iOS.

AltStore’s developer did not outline exactly what changes it is planning to make, but one difference is likely to be the installation process. Right now, you have to install a server app onto your Mac or Windows PC, then connect your iOS device and install the app store from your computer. 

Once AltStore becomes has been approved by Apple as that “legitimate app marketplace,” you will likely simply be able to download the AltStore app directly to your iPhone, with no lengthy workaround process required. In theory, this will mean being able to download any apps you want, including ones that don't conform to Apple's own App Store guidelines.

The AltStore app running on an iPhone.

(Image credit: AltStore)

You'll also be able to set the likes of AltStore (assuming it gets approval) as your iPhone's default app store, and manage them in Settings. As Apple states in its explainer about the app changes, “users can manage their list of allowed marketplace developers and their marketplace apps in Settings and remove them at any time”. 

Your default third-party app store will integrate with some iPhone features like Spotlight, to help you find and use the apps. But if you delete that non-Apple App Store, this will also delete “all related data from the device and stop updates for apps from that marketplace”.

A seismic change coming to your apps

Browsing the App Store on an iPhone.

(Image credit: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The momentous change in Apple’s App Store policy will be implemented in iOS 17.4, which is currently in beta and is due for a full release in March. 

Anyone in the E.U. will be able to install apps from third-party stores, and any developer will be able to release their own app store as long as they meet Apple’s requirements for fraud prevention, customer service and experience, and can provide a €1m credit note attesting to its ability to guarantee user support. However, despite the potential for this move to upend the way European users get their apps, there are a few catches attached to it.

For instance, Apple says that restrictions you place on in-app purchases using iOS’s Screen Time feature will not work in third-party app stores. Likewise, Family Purchase Sharing will be limited, as will the Ask to Buy feature, while universal purchases – where apps you buy work across various Apple platforms – won’t be available. That’s because Apple won’t be facilitating payments on third-party stores, so won’t be able to implement these features. The company also says it won’t be able to help users with refunds, purchase history, subscription management, and more.

Apple has fought tooth and nail against this change, but its hand was forced by the E.U.’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which will start levying hefty fines against companies that don’t open up their platforms from March onwards. Apple says this move is likely to provide “new avenues for malware, fraud and scams, illicit and harmful content, and other privacy and security threats,” and that it won’t be lifting its App Store restrictions anywhere outside the EU. It’s possible the company might even be able to stop you bypassing the geolocation restrictions using a VPN, too.

That said, opening up iOS in this way could lead to some more positive changes. Web browsers on iOS won’t be forced to use Apple’s WebKit engine, for example, and users will be given greater ability to change their default browser. Payment apps will also gain access to Apple’s NFC system, which could mean we start to see contactless alternatives to Apple Pay popping up.

With the EU breathing down its neck, Apple has been forced to begrudgingly make these changes. That could prompt other jurisdictions around the world to consider passing their own app store laws, finally blasting a hole through Apple’s long-standing walled garden. That’s perhaps something for the future – for now, AltStore has shown us what that future could look like.

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Microsoft reminds Windows 11 users on original version that they’ll soon be forced to upgrade

Are you still running Windows 11 21H2? The original version of Windows 11 is about to run out of road for support, and Microsoft has reminded us that users are going to have to upgrade to a newer version imminently.

Neowin spotted that Microsoft has updated its release health dashboard to make things clear for those on Windows 11 21H2 (Home and Pro, plus Pro variants).

The company reminds us that support ends on October 10, 2023, and that the cumulative security update for October, to be released on that day, will be the last ever update that Windows 11 21H2 receives.

Microsoft further clarifies: “The September 2023 non-security preview update will be the last optional release and the October 2023 security update will be the last security release for Windows 11, version 21H2. Windows 11, version 22H2 will continue to receive security and optional releases.”


Analysis: Only one road ahead

Users on 21H2 will therefore be pushed to upgrade to 22H2 and Windows 11 will automatically fire up the update to do so when this end date rolls around – or up to a couple of months before that. So, if you are still on Windows 11 21H2, you might experience this forced upgrade very soon.

It is, of course, of paramount importance that your copy of Windows 11 remains in date and keeps up with the flow of security fixes, otherwise your PC could be open to being exploited by hackers and opportunists out there.

If Windows 11 23H2 emerges very soon, it’s possible you could get pushed to move to that instead of 22H2. However, we don’t think that’s too likely – although it could arrive later this month, as we’ve previously observed, but most rumors have it penciled in for Q4, which of course means October at the soonest, and quite possibly not early in the month. We shall see.

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