Blog Archives

Updated – Playlists of podcasts on IOS 7 is possible

You too can listen to a playlist of podcasts on IOS 7; it just needs a bit of sneakiness

listening-to-ios-7-podcast

Background

In a previous post on “IOS 7 is designed to cause car crashes”, I highlighted that IOS 7 has split podcasts from music for some, as yet unknown, reason, and how I thought this was a road safety issue. I also indicated that I had found a way around this limitation, but I didn’t give the details. This post remedies this.

Update 19th October 2013

After using this approach for a few days I realised that there was a problem. Because I had reclassified the downloaded podcasts as media type Music rather than Podcast iTunes, in its bread-dead stupidity, dowloaded the podcasts again, which then meant multiple copies of the same podcast. Doh!

So, I had to amend the procedure a bit. The playlists stay the same but there is an extra step.

Caveat

This approach only works if you are continuing to sync music and podcasts to your iDevice via iTunes. If you have chosen to take advantage of over-the-air syncing, as provided by IOS 7, then this will not work for you. If you know otherwise, let me know in the comments

How to listen to podcasts via a playlist on IOS 7

The approach involves setting up two Smart Playlists in iTunes and then doing a bit of manual processing.

In essence, what we are going to do is to:

  • use playlist 1 to highlight new podcasts that have been downloaded by iTunes;
  • change their media type from “podcast” to “music”; and then;
  • use playlist 2 to play those converted podcasts on the iDevice. Playlist 2 is sync’d to the iDevice using selective syncing in iTunes.

Create Playlist 1

Screenshot 1 is an shot from iTunes running on my Macbook Air. It shows two smart playlists: “_1. Podcasts unconv to Music”; and “_2. Podcasts unplayed”

Screenshot 1

Screenshot 1

The contents of “_1. Podcasts unconv to Music” is shown in Screenshot 2.

Screenshot 2

Screenshot 2

As you can see, it selects all tracks where the media type is “podcast”; the track exists on the local machine; and it has never been played. The reason for the second clause is to prevent displaying episodes you have chosen not to download.

Process the episodes shown by playlist 1

Screenshot 3 shows an extract from this playlist on my MBA.

Screenshot 3

Screenshot 3

To convert them:

  • Select all the tracks
  • Copy the tracks to preserve them in their original state (Edit/Copy or the appropriate shortcut)
  • Elect to display Info for the selected tracks
  • On the first Tab, check that the genre is set to “podcast” (See Screenshot 4)
  • On the last tab, you will see that Media Type is set to “Podcast” (See Screenshot 5)
  • Change this to “Music” as per Screenshot 6 and click “OK”
Screenshot 4

Screenshot 4

Screenshot 5

Screenshot 5

Screenshot 6

Screenshot 6

All the tracks should disappear from the list.

Now (extra step)

  • Paste the originally selected tracks back into the view
  • Keeping them selected right-click and “Mark as played” so that they disappear again.

It is this last bit that prevents iTunes downloading the podcasts again.

You now have a a number of new music tracks that need to be sync’d to the iDevice. For this we need another playlist

Create Playlist 2

Screenshot 7 shows the contents of “_2.Podcasts unplayed” (Note this is different from that originally setup)

Playlist 2 _Podcasts Unplayed

Screenshot 7 – playlist _Podcasts Unplayed

It selects all music tracks of genre “podcast” which have never been played.

An extract is shown in Screenshot 8. Note that the list is sorted by “Date Added”. It is this which causes them to be played oldest first on the iDevice.

Screenshot 8

Screenshot 8

Sync the playlist to the iDevice

The last step is to ensure that this second playlist, along with whatever you wish to sync, appears on the iDevice.

Screenshot 9 shows the Music Sync tab for my iPhone 4S. I have elected to download only a subset of tracks using a set of smart playlists which I have set up over time. Note that “_2. Podcasts unplayed” appears on the screen and is selected. Note also that “_1. Podcasts unconv to music” doesn’t even appear: proof that iTunes no longer thinks of podcasts as music.

Screenshot 9

Screenshot 9

Screenshot 10 shows that I no longer sync podcasts to my iPhone: there’s no point.

Screenshot 10

Screenshot 10

Conclusion

Finding that IOS 7 had divorced podcasts and music was a major source of annoyance. However, with these simple measure I have managed to restore equilibrium. After having made these changes, I spent over eight hours driving over Friday and Saturday and was able to simply kick off the podcast playlist and ignore the iPhone thereafter, other than when I stopped of course. Result!

IOS 7 is designed to cause car crashes

Apple_iOS_7_Logo

Splitting podcasts away from music means more manual interaction needed

I appreciate that it’s an incendiary headline but it’s there to express quite how strongly I feel about this.

I’ve had various grumbles about IOS 7 but none of them have been major; until now. Most have been learning issues on my part: changed functionality, upgraded apps and the like. This change, however, is different.

Background

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I listen to them in the car mainly. To reduce the amount of interaction required by me during a journey, I created an iTunes smart playlist containing all unplayed podcasts in date order. That way, I can simply call up the playlist in Music before I set off and ignore it because there are several hours of podcasts waiting to be listened to. Not any more.

What’s happened?

The first warning sign was when I sync’d my iPhone after the O/S upgrade. I got a warning to say that the Podcast app was not installed and I would therefore not be able to play my podcasts. Huh?

A bit of delving revealed that Apple has completely split podcasts from music and the Music app will not now play podcasts. Don’t ask me why they’ve done this but I doubt it was done for our benefit.

OK, I installed the Podcast app. Unfortunately, this has no playlist capability: you have to play individual podcasts. If there is more than one episode in a podcast, then they get played successively, but the player stops at the end.

And this is where accidents will get caused.

We are attached to our smart devices and we do pay attention when they alert us. Even when we are driving. If the phone has been happily playing podcasts for maybe 60-70 minutes and then stops, I will be motivated to get it playing more. This will require several manual interactions with the phone, including unlocking it, and this is a safety issue.

I know I should exercise self-control and pull over (not on a motorway), or wait until it’s convenient to stop. Hopefully, I will; but how many won’t?

I’m serious: this is a retrograde step that will cause accidents

Workaround

OK, there is a workaround, but it’s a hassle. To revert to the previous behaviour you can go into the podcast episodes in iTunes:

  • change their media type to music rather than podcast; and
  • set their genre to podcast

You can then amend the smart playlist to select all music with genre podcast and playcount = 0.

It works, but it is a hassle because you have the make the changes every time iTunes downloads new podcasts. Oh, and of course it won’t work if you sync over the air. That’s not a problem for me because I won’t do that anyway due to the way it would eat up my data allowance.

iPhone 5S? – No thanks

It’s time to get off the continual upgrade treadmill for a while

iPhone

For as long as I’ve had a mobile phone, I’ve always been on a contract. In the past this has been great as it meant that I’ve been entitled to a regular upgrade. However, this entitlement has come at a cost and I’ve now decided to change behaviour.

The contract that has just expired was an iPhone 4S from Vodafone for 12 months at a cost of £36 per month. When I last upgraded, from an iPhone 4, I was able to sell the ‘4’ for more than I needed to put up front for the 4S, but it still locked me into paying £36 per month. That’s £432 per year.

I know there’s been the iPhone 5 out for some time, and now there’s the ‘5S’ but do you know what? My ‘4S’ is all that I need. So, I’ve decided to let the contract lapse and move on to a SIM-only contract at £9 per month: a saving of £324 over the year. Even if I only do this for a year and then go back on a contract, or buy a new phone outright, I’ll still be better off given the likely resale value of the ‘4S’.

The only current unknown is being able to tether with a SIM-only contract. Advice is varied on this. Vodafone CS says no, but forum.vodafone.co.uk says yes. We’ll see.

update

The upgrade has completed and was completely invisible. I thought I’d need a new SIM, but apparently not. Also, tethering worked without me needing to do anything other than enable it on the phone. I used it to prove it did work. That’s removed the sole remaining reason for jailbreaking the phone now.

Image courtesy of blakeburris and Wikimedia Commons