Use YouTube for music on your iPhone

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My 13-year-old’s dramatic eye-rolling made me a better iPhone user.

I recently discovered that I can use YouTube for listening to music on my phone without it taking over what’s happening on my screen. Here’s what I mean.

My daughter was describing a song to me, but couldn’t quite recall the title or artist. As a TECH GOD I grabbed my iPhone and launched Apple Music. “Just use YouTube,” she said with the disdain typically reserved for someone who had just kicked your dog.

I would, but YouTube commandeers the iPhone. If you’re using the official app, any video that’s playing stops as soon as you navigate away. The same goes for YouTube.com in mobile Safari. Unless you do the following:

  1. Go to YouTube.com in mobile Safari.
  2. Find the video you want to listen to and get it playing.
  3. Hit your iPhone’s Home button to navigate away from Safari.
  4. The music stops. Don’t panic! Just swipe up to reveal the Control Center (below)
  5. Hit the play button.

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That’s it! Hit the Home button one more time to dismiss the Control Center and use your iPhone however you like while the YouTube video plays in the background. I had no idea this was possible.

Hence the eye-rolling.

The iTunes problem

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Now 15 years old, Apple’s iTunes is like The Borrow in Harry Potter. As the Weasley family grew, new floors, rooms and wings were added, one on top of the other, resulting in a confounding structure that only its builders understand.

Today, “The world’s best and easiest to use jukebox software” is anything but.

Just this morning I sat at my desk and launched iTunes. My goal was to put the Monument Valley soundtrack on repeat. If only I were a wizard.

Let’s play, “How do I make an album repeat in iTunes 12.3?” Well, here’s Play and Shuffle, but no repeat:

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Perhaps it’s up here. There’s shuffle again, but no repeat:

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Weird. Maybe if I minimize the window a button will reveal itself. Nope.

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One last try. Maybe the menu bar? Oh, there it is!

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No keyboard shortcut, no button, no option in the app’s preferences to make it a button. “Repeat” is not an obscure function that most people won’t use. I shouldn’t have to spend two minutes digging to find it.

I want to love iTunes but it’s at the point where it needs to be scrapped completely and re-worked. I should’t need the Marauder’s Map to find basic functions.

The ultimate London playlist

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When I’m traveling in a foreign country I love to soak up the culture. Music is a big part of that. Today, I enlisted the help of my friend and Londoner Myke Hurley, who created an “ultimate London playlist.” I tasked Myke with coming up with a list of songs that any Londoner would say are representative of his or her fine city. The result is below.

– London Calling – The Clash
– Going Underground – The Jam
– Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks
– Down in the Tube Station at Midnight – The Jam
– West End Girls – Pet Shop Boys
– For Tomorrow – Blur
– Common People – Pulp

Heading to London this summer? Put these songs on our iPhone now to get into the mood and experience a small bit of London culture.

If you’d like to share a playlist of music from your city, let me know!