My personal experience with Roon and an iPhone 12 Mini

I’ve used Roon for quite a while now and read a lot of the community posts, especially the feature requests. While I don’t agree with the aggressive tone of some of the requests, I do understand the frustration. Often basic feature requests, like features that every other music app has, are dismissed. Or features exist but users are basically told to get used to the way it works, even if it’s a bad experience.

Before I go into the issues I have with the Roon iOS app, here is some context:

  • I’m a software developer who happens to care a lot about the whole user experience. When users are asked what they think about your app I consider the best response to be “oh I don’t know, it just works!”. I remember Spotify being like that in the old days (the user experience is horrible right now).
  • I have high end audio equipment that supports Roon
  • I have both Tidal and Qobuz subscriptions
  • I only have a tiny local library
  • I use my iPhone 12 Mini as a Roon remote (accounts for 97%+ of my Roon usage)
  • I use my Mac when I want a bigger screen, usually for music discovery
  • I use mostly basic features, which should ‘just work’
  • I expect to be able to use the app with mostly one hand. This means having all the common controls in reach of my thumb

Now here are my issues with the current state of the iOS app on an iphone:

Issue 1
When viewing the tracks of an album, by default it only shows the tracks that are in your library. In general I really like that feature. When I navigate to an album it’s nice to see which tracks are in the library because most likely I want to play those.

The problems start when you are exploring and don’t have any of the album tracks added to your library yet.

You start listening to the tracks, you really like one of them, and you add it to the library.

My expectation:
The track is added to the library. Maybe notify me that it’s added but that’s it. No reason to do anything else.

What actually happens:
It will add the track to the library but it will then ONLY show the tracks that are in the library, just like it would when you navigate to an album.

Why? This makes no sense in that context. I already know it’s in the library because I just added it. Now I have to press the ‘Show complete album’ link again to show ALL the tracks.

But that’s not all. Now you add another track to the library.

My expectation:
The track is added to the library. Maybe notify me that it’s added but that’s it. No reason to do anything else.

What actually happens:
It adds the track to the library, but the screen jumps back completely to the top!

This is also extremely annoying. Every time I add a track I have to scroll back to where I was. These issues are incredibly frustrating when I’m just browsing and trying to discover new music.

Issue 2
Let’s say you’re listening to an album or playlist and you press next, not knowing it was the last song. It then tries to switch to Roon radio. This can take a long time.

My first issue with this is that you don’t get any indication that it’s doing something. Is it hanging? Does the song take a long time to load? Did I press the button correctly? Often you just try to press the button again.

The second issue has to do with how Roon deals with actions that happened while it was doing something in the background.

Scenario 1:
Roon is trying to start Roon radio and you press the next button 1 or more times because you have no idea something is happing.

It starts playing the first track of Roon radio and ignores the button presses. There’s no reason to do anything because I don’t know what the next track will be so why would I want to skip it.

What actually happens:
Roon radio will start and it will start skipping 1 or more songs depending how often you pressed the next button.

In this context that makes no sense.

Scenario 2:
Roon is trying to start Roon radio, this is taking a long time, and you start playing another track because it feels like nothing is happening.

Completely ignore Roon radio. I explicitly started playing something else so I expect that to keep playing. The last explicit action should win.

What actually happens:
Roon radio starts playing even though I already started playing another song.

I run into these issues all the time. Another case where context isn’t taken into account.

Issue 3
No way to sort playlists on a mobile phone.

I have no idea why this still isn’t possible. The sorting code is already available because it is possible on an iPad. There are multiple threads about this issue. I’ve even seen a response like “the iPad has a bigger screen and we can’t implement the same table on a mobile phone”. This is totally missing the point. Nobody is asking for the same user interface. Put a sorting icon next to the triple-dot menu and make it a dropdown to select the sort order. That’s it. That even fits on the screen of an iPhone 12 Mini. So screen size is not a valid excuse. Every other music app has this functionality.

Based on many responses on the forum It feels like the Roon team is developing features for bigger screens first and once those features are done the smaller devices get neglected. You should always design for the smaller devices first. This also makes sure the most important features are always available, no matter the device.

Issue 4
No way to prioritise Qobuz over Tidal

I’ve seen many people requesting this on the forum and I totally agree. Tracks on Qobuz tend to sound better than those on Tidal. If the track is available on Qobuz i always want to play that version, no exceptions.

Issue 5
Unable to swipe to go the the next/previous track

This is one of the features I love about other apps. Not only does it mean I don’t have to bend my thumb to press certain buttons, I can also use it without having to look at the screen because the area is so large. This means I can hold my phone in my hand like a remote and switch songs easily, even without physical buttons.

Issue 6
Having to go to the queue to cycle repeat/repeat single/shuffle.

I use that functionality in other apps all the time. It’s really frustrating to have to switch to the Queue tab to do this. What makes it even worse is that both the tabs and the buttons are at the top of the screen. This means I can’t do this with a single hand. I have no issue with those controls being on the Queue tab but they should also be on the “Now playing” screen and in reach of your thumb.

Issue 7
Signal path button location.

The signal path button takes up valuable screen real-estate. You can reach it with your thumb but it is totally useless in every day use. This is one of the buttons that would be totally fine at the top of the screen. Shuffle, repeat, like, add to library……they all would be better than the signal path button.

Issue 8
Can’t start a radio from the ‘Now Playing’ screen.

There are so many times I really like a song and want to start Roon radio based on that song. Based on the forum I’m not the only one who misses this feature.

Issue 9
Options not being available or greyed out in the triple-dot menu.

Sometimes you’re able to like a song using the heart icon. Other times that heart icon is completely missing. Even in the same playlist and using the same service like Tidal. There’s also an issue where you can add a track to your library but when you go to the menu again the option to remove it again is not available. Most of the time I have no idea why an option is missing or greyed out. Disabling an option and providing some feedback on why would be so much better although I have a feeling some of the issues are bugs. All I know is that using this menu is a frustrating experience.

Issue 10
Not being able to manually sort the sections of the home screen.

I really like to use discover and some other sections that are available on the home screen. And of course those often happen to be the ones that are at the bottom. On an iPhone Mini this means lots of scrolling. In reality this means I find myself hardly using those sections because they are such a pain to get to. Most likely everyone prefers a different order so being able to sort them manually would benefit everyone.

Issue 11
Toasters/notifications getting in the way.

On an iPhone Mini the notifications get shown right on top of the controls. I often find myself wanting to use the controls when a notification is still in the way which is very annoying.

Issue 12
Roon radio keeps playing songs from the same artists/albums even when you dislike most of the songs.

It feels like Roon radio is picking a set of albums instead of random songs. So many songs are from the same albums and even when I tell it I don’t like multiple songs from those albums it insists on picking more songs from those albums. That said I’m not a fan of the radio in general. So far it’s been the worst radio (by far) of all the apps/services I’ve tried. Unfortunately Pandora is no longer available in my country. I loved that service. For my way of listening nothing else has come close.

Issue 13
If the same song is already in the playlist it just adds it and doesn’t ask if it should be added.

This is one of the features that’s sorely lacking. Yes, you should be able to add a track multiple times. Most of the time I have no idea if I already added the song to the playlist in the past so I add it just to make sure the song is in the playlist. I don’t want it in the playlist multiple times. Considering you support multiple services and multiple versions of songs I understand it’s harder to tell if it’s the ‘same’ song. In the end, just ask. Show me the songs that you think are the same and ask me if I want to add it anyway. Or maybe even replace a version with another.

Issue 14
Genre radio plays songs completely different from the ones in my library.

This is one feature I would use all the time if it actually picked songs that were at least related to the songs already in my library. Most often it picks songs I would never listen to. I don’t mind a small percentage being a bit different but most of the time I want songs that are similar to ones in my library.

Issue 15
Heart icon is too small and often doesn’t respond.

The touch area of this icon is too small. Also because of the position you have to stretch your thumb, which means it’s much harder to be accurate with it.

Issue 16
Having to add a track to the library before you can like it (heart icon).

Why isn’t the heart icon shown all the time? Personally I can’t think of a reason why you want to like a song but not add it to your library. I’d love it if the heart icon did both actions at the same time. Maybe I’m missing a use case but I don’t see it.

Issue 17
Crashes or hangs regularly.

The app will regularly become unresponsive or just plain crash. Luckily the app is on my home screen because this happens way too often.

Issue 18
Selected Qobuz genres aren’t saved.

I always select the same Qobuz genres. In the Qobuz app you can set them as default. In the Roon app you can’t. So every single time I have to select the same genres again.

Issue 19
Inability to search for Qobuz/Tidal playlists

Search has been a major issue with Roon in general with many complaining about the results. I often look for specific playlists to find new artists/songs. Unfortunately Roon doesn’t show any Qobuz/Tidal playlists in the search results.

Issue 20
No 2-way sync.

Roon doesn’t sync anything across services. It gets information from Tidal/Qobuz but it’s a one-way street. When I’m at home this isn’t much of a problem but anytime I leave home this rears its ugly head. I often listen to Qobuz/Tidal when I’m walking or when I’m in my car. Chances are I want to listen to songs I’ve just added to playlists. This leads to me often using the Qobuz or Tidal apps for exploring/discovering music instead of Roon which defeats the whole purpose of Roon.

Issue 21
Share option being the first item in the menu.

I really don’t understand is. It seems managers and product owners want to push being social and sharing. Do they actually think sharing a song is more important than going to the album or artist for example?


The combination of the high end audio equipment and the multiple subscriptions is the only reason I’m still using Roon. I’m actively looking for an alternative. At the moment there isn’t really any other decent choice. Some of the issues might seem small but they add up. No matter what I do, I always run into one of the issues above. This means that instead of listening to music I’m fighting the app.

Something should work so well that I don’t even think about leaving. Shiny new features might attract some new users but companies often fail to realise that it’s often the little things that make people love the product. The user experience is so important. Why would I trust your major features when you can’t even get the little things right. You don’t have to blindly copy parts of another app but when it works great, why not? And please don’t change the interface for the sake of it. Spotify has fallen into this trap lately and the new interface is horrible. Use UX research and make informed decisions. Not only will you have happy users, they’ll gladly pay for your service.

By the way, as a developer myself I’m well-aware that there are a lot of politics and personal agendas involved so blaming all issues on the developers is unfair.


You bring up some really good points in a well put together way but, as a user, I’d like to comment on this…

Personally, I think Roon should drop support for phones. Roon is a big screen interface. Should they develop a small, on it’s own / independent, small screen interface? Yes. But until that happens this hybrid decision to just remove features that don’t fit causes issues. A Fire 10 tablet is $100 and solves the small screen problem. Roon should pull resources from the phone development until such time they have dedicated resources and reevaluate their stance here. I know this will limit adoption for a lot of people but phone is just a poor experience. Why keep pushing a poor experience on users just to tick a box? Stay big and beautiful Roon :slight_smile:

EDIT: Roon will have to solve this if they ever deliver a mobile solution. I can’t be expected to mount a 12.9" iPad Pro on my dash.


While I agree that the small screen interface isn’t good, dropping support for them only to have to reintroduce them seems like an odd choice.

Not to mention, every other music app has solved this problem, including the ones we have to pay for to use Roon. Qobuz and Tidal both have interfaces that work really well. Apple Music, Deezer etc.


Interesting. I’m too looking for an alternative. I’ve been on the trial, and just, literally five minutes ago, opted for the annual subscription plan (mostly because there’s a refund option in the first 30 days in that plan, and 14 days is a bit on the short side for serious testing imho - especially if you have a “normal” life, with a day job and a wife and small kids you have to attend to).

My requirements are very simple, as I only stream music (both Qobuz and Tidal). I tried Audirvana, but compared to Roon, it’s very limited, and very unstable. Even more so than Roon. In the two weeks I’ve tested Roon, I’ve encountered many hiccups and quite a few weird behaviours. In comparison, I’ve used Spotify connect on a Sonos Connect for the last 3-4 years, and to be host, I cannot remember a single instance of the Sonos or Spotify not working or acting up. Not one.

I also subscribe to Apple Music, and if there was an Apple Music Connect option, all my prayers had been heard. :slight_smile: I do have the option to connect one of my Apple devices via USB to my DAC to get lossless playback at the highest resolution, but it’s bit clunky, to have to use a cable for a tablet to work. Also I can’t remote control the iPad.

To be honest, I don’t worry much about high rest and I don’t believe that more than a few percent (maybe), can hear the difference - at most. I’ve been more than happy with my CD’s for the last 30 years, and when using Spotify Connect, I can’t hear a significant difference between 320kb/s and CD. Airplay is working incredible well, but I have yet to see an official source stating, that Airplay is indeed lossless and stream content in alac (and god knows I’ve spent numerous hours researching that topic).

One thing that Roon is making me want more and more is the versions, discography and credits data. That feature is very much reminding me of when I used to study the booklets of my CD’s. I don’t think I have bought a CD in maybe 5 years though :-/

Anyway. I see your point of view, and when you look in the community forum, it is as if, the majority accepts the fact, that Roon is a “beta” software - a very expensive one I might add. Most faults and errors are blamed on network, even when EVERY other piece of hardware or data streaming works flawlessly on the same network.




This. If I can stream 4K PC games to my TV via Nvidia’s servers, I should be able to play music on devices in my own house.

The apps that Roon is layering on top of can do it, there is no reason that Roon should be delivering an inferior experience (layout, performance and stability) to them.


I’m on a 1Gb/s internet connection. My devices on my WIFI LAN gives me typically 400-500Mb/s results on 800-1000Mb/s when plugged in with ethernet.
For 24 bits / 192 kHz you need 9,216 kbps! There’s no way that my (WIFI) LAN can cause Roon not to work. It must be the software.

Sorry for the OT rant :slight_smile:




Agreed, can be latency and plenty of other factors.

Point still stands though, if I can stream a 4K game on my network from a server in the united states, why does Room fail to deliver in the home?

This is getting rather off topic though, focus is on small screens and as stated (which I think you’ll agree) the roon app is not great on a mobile phone.

Playback of Qobuz and Tidal is also flawless in my setup. But the Roon remote app on both my iPad Air 4 and iPhone 11 Pro has a life of it’s own. App crashes and does all sorts of unexpected behaviours. But when it works, it works very well.

I’m still very much in line with OP though. Especially 2 way sync. We can send a spacecraft to touch the sun, but 2 way sync is out of the question :slight_smile:




I strongly disagree. If you look at my list of issues, most of them have nothing to do with screen size and would still be an issue on larger screens. Only the issues regarding placement are related to single handed use on a phone. Those are very easy to fix. And even on a big screen the current placement doesn’t make any sense.

I totally understand that some users, like yourself, only use a tablet. That’s fine and I respect that. But in my opinion it’s unfair to suggest dropping support for something just because you don’t use it yourself. I could argue that a tablet is nice for browsing/exploring but horrible for every day use. Why search for my tablet when I just want to skip a song or put on a playlist and I have my phone in my pocket. Music discovery is only a small part of my daily usage so a tablet doesn’t make any sense. I do see the value of a tablet, just not for me and probably many others.

While a few issues have to do with personal preference, most of the issues would benefit all users, regardless of the device they are using.


Why is it a horrible way to control Roon? If that is the case then Roon is to blame, not the device. Like I said, I’m mostly using basic features. I don’t care about huge album covers, all the metadata and so on. Most of the time I just listen to music. There’s not a feature I use regularly that would actually require a large screen. I also use the Tidal app when I’m outdoors and it works perfectly fine. They actually have the important controls at the bottom. I can’t even remember the last time I had an issue with that app. That’s my expectation.

Your definition of it works is apparently very different from mine. Quite a few issues are plain bad design, which could easily have been prevented, and some are bugs. Yes, there are some feature requests which I’ve seen from others as well. And you’re right, it’s up to them if they implement them or not. Unfortunately they have a very bad track record actually listening to users.

I actually hope Roon becomes much better but the way they are handling things currently will bite them later on.


My primary interaction with Roon is XPS 13 Laptop Win 10. However, I have dropped a laptop in every room of my house where there is a Roon endpoint. When friends come over I had them a laptop to interact with Roon.

That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying drop support for it because, as you pointed out, its a poor experience. These threads come up regularly. An faster way to stop them, then rewriting the phone interfaces from scratch, is to pull support until that work can be properly resourced.

It would be odd. But it would stop the complaints about how phones are a poor user experience :slight_smile:

Personally, I’m glad I can pull out my phone and pause / play. It’d be nice to have a very lightweight app to do just that so it didn’t force iOS to flush it from memory every time it went in the background. The current implemented is is kind of a worst of all worlds… too big and not full-featured functionality.

If Roon is watching… Try a fresh install and then only use Roon with a phone. Nowhere does it say a user shouldn’t do this but it’s going to be a very poor experience. It’s not going to convince too many people the price is worth the experience. Yet, it seems this is what an increasing number of users are doing with their 14 day evaluations.

While this is true, I think the extremely vocal reaction to removing the phone app would offset this :joy:

The reason so many people evaluate it via the phone is because every other music app in existence runs perfectly on a phone (for some I’d argue its their lead platform).

In a lot of the marketing for roon the premise is that it works with all of your devices, seamlessly. Now, if I pull out my phone and there’s no app, that to me is not every device seamlessly.

Given we all know Roon is going to go mobile, it seems like a rethink in how Roon works on mobile is in order. A lot of the problems on mobile are bugs or quirks. Its not that the phone can’t give a fantastic experience its that it hasn’t been a primary concern. Or at least, that’s my impression.


I’m a Jr. Engineer. I’m only here to solve one problem at a time :slight_smile:

This is actually true and there are plenty of analytics to back it up. In fact, for certain areas of the United States, a majority of people only access the Internet from their phones. Most people cannot afford cellular service + home Internet. And why, if your cellular company is going to 100% subsidize a very capable small computer, would you buy a second computer? Yes, more people are spending an increasing amount of screen time in front of their phone and abandoning the traditional PC / tablet. Most people find it redundant. Roon has not kept-up, maybe they don’t feel they need to, with this trend. But, the majority of people buying / investing into Roon certainly have the means to stop using their phones for a better experience. That’s the current workaround and bugs / feature misses with workarounds will always be de-prioritized (at least in my experience).

I certainly agree its a workaround for now, Roon is exceptionally pretty and really shines on the iPad (visually).

Even if you only used your iPad though, a few of the design issues OP mentioned don’t go away, performance issues don’t go away, the instability doesn’t get removed from iOS (look at the support tickets for iOS). The lack of bidirectional sync remains (why can’t I update playlists ? Why is it that my favorite tracks aren’t hearted in roon?).

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Not too small for Qobuz, Tidal, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music or Deezer.

I also use Roon on my laptop but only when I’m already using the laptop in the first place. And I’m not sure how convenient it is to have laptops everywhere just to play some music, but to each their own :wink: .

The app is literally called Roon Remote. I don’t even expect the full experience. Except for the regular crashes, the placement issues and the missing sorting options are easy to fix. No need for a rewrite. In almost all cases rewriting software is a very bad idea. I see no need for that here. Just make incremental improvements and show that you’re listening. My main issue is with the fact that those don’t seem to happen. And that frustrates me. and apparently many others as well.


Then that’s a very personal opinion. Like @crowlem said, size is not the issue here. The apps for other music services work fine and I have one of the smallest phones currently available.

Recently I tried Spotify again and apparently they redesigned the user interface again. The menu is in the top right where you can’t reach it anymore, the share button was forced between the controls. Who needs to share all the time? And there were so many other issues introduced. It worked perfectly before that. It’s the same here. Screen size is not the problem. Bad user interface design and user research are. It was clearly changed because of what the company thought was important to them, not what the users actually cared about. Want to actually keep your users in the long run? Then that’s not the way to do it. And Roon is trending in that direction as well.

Unfortunately you’re right about that one.

The issues you raise are worth resolving though it seems that many of these relate to using the Remote app on the iPhone mini.

I’m not sure why app developers seem to shy away from allowing users to set preferences when it comes to app behaviour as this is common on many desktop applications.

I understand that the Roon does not behave as you expect and that’s a valid criticism, but others may have differing expectations informed by their use case, culture, experience with other apps/devices etc. Allowing users more control over application behaviour may satisfy some of these issues.

My primary controller is a laptop, I have 4 in different locations. My local library is small (32k tracks) but I listen to it more than streaming services (Tidal) so as users of Roon our experience and use cases are not the same. The feedback you provide is well presented, I hope that Roon’s developers can take it on-board and continue to improve the product.

I enjoyed reading about your experience on the iPhone Mini. While I agree with your points related to stability, because I’m using an iPhone 13 Pro Max the issues related to one handed use are mostly moot for me. My primary controller is a 12.9” iPad Pro, on which the Roon app has a long list of its own bugs and UI quirks. It really seems as if the whole set of iOS controllers need an overhaul, from the Mini all the way up to the big iPad. Unfortunately, it appears many of the issues stem from limitations of the platform chosen to develop these apps. It’s questionable whether we’ll ever see some of these issues addressed, at least until a decision is made to move to a native platform.