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> For many iPhone and iTunes users, there’s a nagging issue that has plagued their daily commute whenever plugging in their device to their in-car sound system via aux. For most of these users, there’s a really good chance that they’ve had to bear the same song automatically playing every time their device is plugged in.

Oh my God, so that's why I always hear "Andrea Bocelli" when I plug my phone into my car. That was always bugging me, but not so much to actually look it up. Turns out many people have the same problem and this 'song', cleverly named "A a a a a Very Good Song" somewhat solves the problem, "effectively giving users 9 minutes and 58 seconds to choose their desired playlist and songs before starting their journey by car". Simple, yet brilliant.


It gets better. My wife's iPhone 6 would not play music at all through the car aux system. 3 other family phones worked fine. We took the phone to Apple, they couldn't find anything wrong, updated the OS and other stuff and sent us away. The problem persisted, we went back. They replaced the phone.

The problem persisted.

Finally in the middle of a mind-wandering commute daze it occurred to me that my wife's phone had no songs in iTunes . She only listens to music via YouTube (don't ask). "You don't suppose...".

Yup. I put one song in her iTunes library and problem solved.


I recently deleted all my iTunes music since I listen to everything on Spotify or my podcast app (Downcast) now. I also updated to the iOS 11 public beta. Around the same time my car stopped playing anything via the USB cable, the car just said "no song" so I assumed it was an issue with the beta.

Literally yesterday I read about this "fix", so i re-downloaded the Music app and put just one song on it... yep it works!

Car players apparently assume you will only ever play music from the "default" library/app so when you connect it and it sees an empty library index, it assumes nothing can ever be played and just stops you there.

Very dumb.


First year BMW i3 recognizes Spotify and others just fine on current relase iOS and earlier as well, I think.

I'd conjecture it's a matter of how thoroughly apps got debugged by the vendors.


Reading the “(don’t ask)” line was probably the funniest thing I’ve read in a while. I instantly got an image of a person quietly embracing defeat after endlessly trying to convince their partner that there was a better way of doing a task.


Another workaround instaed of having the music app or adding a single song as many people have mentioned is opening whatever app you perfer to play music and hitting the play button prior to plugging it into your car system. Then, as the iPhone is plugged in and your car recognizes it, it will see an audio file on the car - the one that is currently playing. It will continue to play that song.


While my car is in the shop getting unsmashed I've had the pleasure of four different cars and four different sound systems in as many weeks. That's how I know the workaround won't get it done on a Peugeot 308. "Spotify's playing? Nah, let's hear that song you like whose name starts with '('. Spotify's grabbed the audio output again, almost as if you opened it again and pressed play? I can help... And you wanted it on single-track repeat, right?"

Never thought I'd be happy to see Carplay again with its 3-ring circus of UI tomfoolery, but there it is.


I assume by "aux" you mean USB? I don't see how third party app audio wouldn't be routed to the headphone jack because the music app doesn't have content.


Yea, usb is under "aux" in my car at least, and you are correct.


Youtube has a much better library of music than Google Play Music even.

For example, my Google Home can play the Beatles on Youtube, but it fails with Google Play.


Two things. Im surprised no one at the apple store caught this. Surely they tried to use said phone to stream to a bluetooth speaker or something to verify audio was working and would notice it had NO songs to play?

Second, I wonder how much PEBKAC issues like this cost apple per year in replacement devices?


This isn’t a PEBKAC issue the way I’m reading it. Sounds like the ~~phone~~ (EDIT: the car) wouldn’t play audio from any source if the phone had an empty iTunes library.


Less rare than you might think. One of the Left for Dead games on the XBox (forget which and which) wouldn't display any LAN network connectivity unless a memory card was present.

No memory card inserted? No UI difference between "No Ethernet plugged into XBox" and "XBox connected correctly to LAN".

Insert memory card? Network magically appears.

(I may have almost taken a sledgehammer to the hardware after I stumbling across this issue while setting up a PAX game room. And no, the memory card is not used for LAN play.)


Yeah, that's how I read it as well. The likely explanation in my mind is that the process of making sure the phone is synced properly includes playing the first iTunes song, but since that fails as there is no song, the whole "sync for audio playback" is registering as failing.


I have a 2010 Honda Fit, and for me it's even worse than that: the stereo will not let you not play music when an iPhone is connected. If you pause it, the car immediately resumes.

So you can't charge your phone in peace or use the car stereo for turn-by-turn navigation or anything else without also playing some music in the background.

It's absurdly frustrating, and I've joked with my wife about sticking a long silent track on her iPhone more than once. (I have an Android that the car just refuses to connect to at all.) I'm going to send her this article.


I never had music on my iPhone (only Spotify) until 2014, when Apple had its U2 album debacle. I used the removal tool, but it failed for one song: "Raised By Wolves". To this day it echoes horribly in my head, as when I went to start my car in the morning, it automatically played the aforementioned song, the only one in my library.

I was eventually able to remove it, but for a few weeks, auto-play music (and Bono) were the bane of my existence.


That was so frustrating. 2 months ago, for no reason, iTunes decided to download the free U2 album and play it each time I started my car... I never use iTunes :x why did they decided that it was a good idea to auto download and auto play the album is quite a mystery...


I have the very same issue, but always assumed it was my Toyota to blame. I actually ended up deleting "that" song having been through its first 10 seconds or so while desperately trying to switch over to spotify countless of times. This hack is indeed a weirdly delightful solution


Worse even, some cars do not allow you to stop the audio player while still accepting audio from apps such as google maps. So a playlist with actual silence looped is a neat workaround.


I put a flic in my car so I can easily control my phone when the car's UI isn't being cooperative.


While this song is a clever workaround to the same song playing over and over again, I really hope this brings attention to Apple Music's UX team. I've run into small/nitpicky issues in Apple Music, but there are so many of them that they collectively make the product feel really unpolished.

Top issues:

- Poor feedback UI. Why did the music suddenly stop? Is it buffering? Did bluetooth disconnect? Why does the UI behave like I pressed pause?

- It doesn't start back up in the state I left it when its purged by iOS. Use case: I'm listening to the Radio, and someone messages me a link to a video on a website, I load the site/watch the video. When I go back to apple music it'll start back up in the Library tab.

- Whats the difference between Stars and Hearts? Why do songs in my library focus on Hearts, and songs on the Radio focus on Stars? Why is liking/disliking a song always a 2-step process?

- Inconsistent UI behavior: Start a song from your library and the mini player will slide up from the bottom, same with a Radio station. However, switch Radio stations and the now playing screen will slide all the way up, taking over the screen.

- Search requires too much effort. Please check my library first, and if there are no results I would appreciate an Apple Music link instead of a No Results screen, a la Spotlight in iOS. This is a solved problem!


> Poor feedback UI

All of Apple's network-related software has this problem where they always assume nothing will ever go wrong and all networks are perfect. And then when something does go wrong usually there's not even an error message - simply nothing happens and you're left mashing buttons wondering if it even got your command.

If you're really lucky you'll get a generic "server error". I wasted an hour yesterday trying to log into my wife's MacBook Air using the iCloud login fallback before I realized the "server error" was actually the clock on the laptop being reset so the HTTPS negotiation failed since the certificate was not yet valid. Had to use the Terminal(!) in the recovery boot to fix the time.


Apple's entire music ecosystem is garbage and it makes me very sad.


I think there is confusing usage of the term "aux" in the article and the comments here. Aux refers to the 3.5mm "headphone" jack, which I use to play music in my car, and I have never had the issue described, which makes sense because it's just receiving the same "dumb" audio signal as headphones would. It continues the last thing that was playing, as you would expect.

Everyone that has experienced the issue seems to be using Bluetooth or USB (which I would not call "aux"), which of course sends a two-way data signal that allows some "smart" system to take control and play the same song every time (or not work at all!) for your convenience.


I would not call the USB connection "aux" neither, but it looks like that is the term car manufacturers are using.


FYI "aux" is short for "auxiliary" as in "providing supplementary or additional help and support."

The car manufacturers probably see their in car systems as complete solutions and any additional audio systems as aux.


Thanks for clearing that up, I couldn't figure out what was going on in the comments either at first. "Why would plugging into aux have the phone do anything?"


All these elaborate workarounds.

The root cause is Apple, as usual, has a set of use cases cast in stone and refuses to give customers what they want: a configurable experience.


Not really. This is due to the legacy of the iPod. Many cars integrated iPod specific systems years and years ago. The iPhones of today retained much of that compatibility. Apple could have removed iPod accessory support from the iPhone and this problem wouldn’t occur.


Nope, still Apple. There's no good reason that the iPod couldn't use a standard protocol. For that matter, there's not much reason not to just read it as a USB drive and let the car's internal music player do all the work, even if just as a fallback.

I can kind of understand why Apple would want the entire world to only work with their proprietary connector, but for the life of me I still can't figure out why anyone else, especially auto manufacturers, went along with it. It's a horribly short-sighted decision for products like cars which regularly have a useful lifetime measured in decades.


Sure there is (was) - DRM. Your average iPod had thousands of iTunes DRM protected songs. A standard USB drive with a bunch of files with DRM wouldn't playback on the headunit.


The USB drive solution solves only one part of the problem. You assume all of my music in iTunes/Apple Music. I only listen to music in that app...because the car plays "Aaj Ki Raat" every time I plug in my iPhone. I usually listen to podcasts or Amazon Music. A standard protocol would be great, if one exists. Treating the external device as a USB drive closes the door on other apps/functionality.


Apple users don't want a configurable experience. They want a low stress experience and a brand name. Otherwise they would use Android.


> Apple users don't want a configurable experience. They want a low stress experience and a brand name. Otherwise they would use Android.

You almost nailed it, until you mentioned Apple users wanting a brand name. I guess that's the stereotype though.

I used to be a config-every-bit-of-settings tech kid. But now... I just want a streamlined, simple UI that works for the 5 features I use daily (phone, messaging, camera, internet, and music). For the most part, Apple gets it right. macOS and iOS are perfect for my needs as a consumer and developer. I have no complaints. But listening to music with an iPhone -- with an Apple Music subscription -- ridiculously unpolished. It's a separate department that has been lost in the shuffle. I hope they start paying more attention to it.


> You almost nailed it, until you mentioned Apple users wanting a brand name. I guess that's the stereotype though.

Last year a colleague of mine ordered an Apple laptop, for $2800 (AU). Then he found out about the touchbar, which he didn't want, and cancelled the order. He was asking for other laptops, so I pointed him at an X1 for $2400. His response? "Too expensive". But you just paid $2800 for an Apple laptop? "Yeah, but when you run an apple laptop, people know you're running an apple". This guy was willing to pay a premium just for a brand name.


Weird that this anecdote has people disagreeing with it. I guess people only buy for brandname-bragging when YSL is on a handbag, or Ferrari is on the bonnet, but never when Apple is on electronics. Never mind that Apple's greatest successes came from turning electronics into fashion; clearly when people buy Apple, it's only ever because they've done a sober analysis of suitability for the task at hand.


Maybe not in your case but most people I know also buy it for the brand name here in India. It's still kind of a big deal to sport the latest iphone and it does catch people's eye.


I own a Citroen DS3 it allows me to plug my iPhone in via usb or aux. I would plug my iPhone in the USB port and the DS3 would say "No Audio File Found". Since I don't use iTunes (I'm a Spotify user), it occurred to me that I might need to put a song into my iTunes library in order for my DS3 to talk to my phone.

Turns out that did the trick.

Every time my car turns on and my iPhone is plugged in, the same song turns on until I load up Spotify and it takes over the audio signal. Sort of frustrating functionality.


Throw in a track of elevator music.


Is 4'33" out of copyright now?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4′33″


Why would I pay $0.99 for less than half of the nothing?


You should get the heavy metal cover.

I'm not even kidding, it exists.


Do you mean Cage Against The Machine, the cover version that included Imogen Heap and Orbital in the band?

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/dec/06/cage-against-m...


I was alluding to the legend that John Cage once sued for copyright infringement another artist who released a silent track. Nobody told you to buy it.


Parent is making a joke.


An important that detail is that they released and acknowledged it was a derivation of Cage's piece. IIRC that was the basic for the lawsuit.


I don't believe it is...I wonder if we'll see another lawsuit from the John Cage estate.

I bought a copy of 4'33" on iTunes when I got my iPhone 3GS in 2010 to deal with this auto-play issue in my car. It worked well, and I suspect if more people were familiar with that composition before the release of this new track, 4'33" would have received more sales.


When I connect my iPhone 7 to my 2014 Prius via USB, it registers as being connected in iPod mode. This plays the first track, and then shuffles from then on. When I connect my iPhone 7 to my 2014 Prius via USB, it registers as being connected in Bluetooth mode.

This has less of the legacy cruft associated with iPod mode, and I don't have any of that weird behavior - when I connect in bluetooth mode, my iPhone 7 resumes play in the same way it would resume play if I connected a pair of headphones, swiped up from control center, and pressed play.

Life got a lot less frustrating when I realized there was a difference between the modes - now I use Bluetooth exclusively, and charge the phone with an Anker car charging adapter. Much better not having to hear the first song on my phone every time I plug in my phone while I am driving.


My car stereo is a crappy Kenwood aftermarket affair from 2005, originally used with an iPod Mini. 12 years later and it still works with my iPhone 7, though it needs a 30-pin-to-Lightning adapter that itself required some Dremel work to fit.

It's amazing that the latest iPhone still works with this ancient never-updated random hardware designed in the click-wheel era. Kudos to Apple: that doesn't happen by accident.

(And now I'll only hear A'Part by Elephant Revival again if I choose to.)


For some reason, this reminds me of the Mac OS 7-era Apple menu and the silly measures users would take to customize the display order of the application launcher in the Apple menu. Many Mac users of the era added leading spaces to force a specific sort order as seen in the following screenshot:

http://www.lowendmac.com/archive/art/applemenu.gif


Why fix your crappy software when you can just sell a workaround?

This is everything wrong with Apple in a nutshell. I tried iTunes once, granted it was a long time ago, but I couldn't believe how confining it was. As someone else mentioned here, it was designed for precisely one use-case and completely useless for anything else.

If it works for you, that's great, but I'll take Amazon's Cloud service and their buggy Android music player any day.


Huh. Nice to hear about a problem with audio playback that my twenty-year-old beater and its tape deck adapter don't have.


What really pisses me off is that Joe Emison came up with the same idea on July 1s and released it on ProductHunt (https://www.producthunt.com/posts/aaa-silence) but the version by Samir Mezrahi, released on August 7, is the one that sold so well.


If anyone needs tips on recording silence check out Quora (https://www.quora.com/How-do-I-record-complete-silence).

(obligatory /s)


Oh that would drive me NUTS if it always just played the first alphabetical song right away. I wouldn't want it to play anything period until I chose to play a song. Glad I don't support Apple.


I believe this is an issue with car audio/USB players, not iPhones in particular. I might be mistaken though.


Doesn't happen on my LG V20, but I just got a car that plays bluetooth and MP3 USB sticks


Correct


I hope the heirs of John Cage don't sue him for copyright infringement...



Be sure to turn up your volume to max to hear the message hidden in the lower bits.


Weird - why do people not just have play set to random?

I've been using Aux, Bluetooth - never had this issue.


Here is what happens when I connect my iPhone to the USB in my Honda Odyssey, which has a specific iPod input on the menu (as opposed to a generic USB input device). As soon as I plug it in and select iPhone on the car audio, it starts playing "About a Girl (Nirvana)". I usually want to go to youtube to find a song for the kids, but have to sit through 10 seconds of the song EVERY TIME I PLUG IN THE PHONE. The upside is that my kids have learned to like Nirvana; also, my wife's phone has some spanish language kids music as the first item in the playlist, so it could be worse. But, I'd rather not have the phone decide "you have connected to car audio, PLAY MUSIC TIME HAS ARRIVED!"

This doesn't happen with bluetooth, and rarely (???) with headphones.


The phone isn’t deciding this. The cars legacy iPod accessory interface is deciding this.


On my car, when I start the car with my phone attached via Bluetooth, it random shuffles by default. However, if I start the car with my phone attached via USB cable, it plays all the songs alphabetically. The actions available on the iOS music app are also different... when attached via Bluetooth, there are "Play Next" and "Play Later" options, where as when attached via USB, these options do not appear.

As a software engineer, I think the differences stem from whether the "now playing" playlist is being managed by the phone or by the car multimedia system. As a car driver, it's extremely annoying and I'm disappointed at how poorly it behaves.


The is because of the iPod. Car systems were built around the iPod and its accessory protocol. The iPhone supports it as well but it leads to these weird use cases where your phone is constrained by what the car thinks an iPod can and can’t do.


ah, ok - don't think I tried USB. Guess the radio of the car then takes control and tries to use the phone as an external drive, overriding the native music app.


I leave a flash drive with a bunch of MP3 files permanently plugged in to my Harley, although I usually play music from my iPhone via Bluetooth. When I turn the bike on, it starts playing from the flash drive wherever it left off (e.g. in the middle of a song). When I tell it to connect to my phone, it also starts playing wherever it left off. I can switch back and forth and it never "starts over" so I'm guessing it must be the vehicle that controls the playback?


Vulfpeck-esque




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