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Apple Music’s Biggest Problem

iCloud Music Library Raining on Apple Music

Apple Music has emerged as my favorite music streaming service … but it ain’t perfect. And the Achilles heel is iCloud Music Library.

iCloud Music Library is Seriously Flawed

I use playlists, and I have several filled with tunes that are not in my personal music collection. To enjoy this feature, I must have iCloud Music Library enabled. And for the most part, that’s fine. Until I want to listen to one of my own more obscure tracks.

In theory, iCloud Music Library will scan my collection and make all the matching tunes in Apple’s library available to me. If it can’t find a match a tune, then it uploads my own tune to make it available to me.

Big surprise! It doesn’t usually work.

Example 1: I have a track of the Olympic fanfare followed by Summon the Heroes. So the matching song in Apple’s cloud doesn’t include the Olympic fanfare (selfish Olympic rights holders?). So that is less than optimal.

Example 2 (but related to 1): I cannot just drag and drop my Olympic fanfare/Summon the Heroes track to my iPhone. That’s right! I can’t just attach it my my PC and use iTunes to copy over my preferred track (or any other track for that matter). I’m assuming Apple can’t fathom a world where any of their “solutions” would ever fall short of customer expectations. Perhaps, I’m expecting it wrong??

My Workaround

Okay, this scenario doesn’t really impact me very often, and I hate workarounds. But we live in a techie world, so workarounds are part of our worlds.

Settings Music

  1. On your iPhone, go to Settings/Music.
  2. Tap the toggle to turn off iCloud Music Library.
  3. Confirm that you wish to turn off that feature.
  4. Connect the iPhone to your computer and use iTunes to add your desired music tracks.
  5. On your iPhone, return to Settings/Music to enable iCloud Music Library.
  6. Confirm that you wish to Merge the media resources on your iPhone.

Hope this helps!

Fix iTunes When It Doesn’t Recognize Your iOS Devices

iTunes

[UPDATE: This article was first published Feb 1, 2014. I republished it for today, July 2, 2015, because it has proven very helpful to me lately. I am testing Windows 10. During the last few builds, my iPhone has not been recognized by Windows or iTunes. Going through this quick driver re-installation has saved me a lot of time compared to uninstalling/re-installing Apple’s iTunes and related software. Perhaps it will help others, too.]

If iTunes on Windows will not see your iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), you may be thinking that uninstalling and reinstalling iTunes will fix the problem. Well, it probably won’t. You might think that uninstalling and reinstalling all Apple applications could do the trick. Well, this will probably work, but will take a lot of time.

Here’s your quick(er) fix.

  1. Open Device Manager.
    • In Windows 8, go to the Desktop and right-click in the very lower left of the screen. Click Device Manager
    • In Windows 7, click the Start orb and type “Device Manager” and press the Enter key.
  2. In Device Manager, find Portable Devices.
  3. Click the + or the arrow beside Portable Devices to view those devices.
  4. Right-click the first Apple device and click Update Driver Software…
  5. In the dialog box, choose to browse to a location on your computer.
  6. Browse to this folder path (or type it in directly if you wish): C:\Program Files\Common Files\Apple\Mobile Device Support\Drivers
  7. Click Next.
  8. It should confirm that you’ve just installed the latest driver.
  9. Repeat the Steps 4 through 7 for each of your remaining iOS devices.

If it says you have the latest driver already, then you’ll probably need to uninstall and reinstall all Apple software of your computer. Uninstall these in this order.

  1. iTunes
  2. Apple Software Update
  3. Apple Mobile Device Support [This one might refuse to uninstall. If so continue with the remaining apps.]
  4. Bonjour
  5. Apple Application Support

Now, reinstall iTunes. Good luck!

How It Works: Getting Your Email on a Wireless Device

Recently, I’ve had to explain this concept to non-technical technology users. For techies, the concept is simple and obvious. For non-techies, the concept is muddled and confusing. So if you’re a techie, then consider sharing a link to this post with the non-techies you love.

Internet Connections

Understanding the Systems Involved

The most obvious is the wireless computer or wireless device. Next, there is the wireless router. Finally, there is the email service.

The Wireless Computer

For simplicity’s sake, I’ll focus on a wireless laptop, but the concept is very similar for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

The laptop will have a user account on it. The account might be (and should be) password-protected. Once you’ve logged into the computer, you can use applications on it to write a document or access the Web or email.

The Wireless Router (WiFi)

The term “WiFi” is thrown around a lot these days, and it means wireless fidelity. In simple terms, it means the ability to have a network connection without a wired connection. In the old days, having an Internet-connected laptop in the living room meant jumping rope with a network cable. Do-able, but not fun.

The wireless router might have (and really, really should have) a password (aka, passphrase) to allow a device to connect to its wireless network. Most of the time, the wireless laptop will remember the connection after connecting previously. This is a convenience feature, but it’s important to realize that the process occurs every time the computer wakes up and accesses services on the Internet.

A couple of related facts about the wireless router: First, the router probably has ports (or connections) to allow wired devices (like a desktop computer) to connect to the router using wired technology. These devices don’t use WiFi. Second, the router may also be combined modem and router device. This just means what used to take two devices, now just takes one. Modem technology simply translates the signals that go through a cable or phone connection into standard Internet network signals that computers can understand. This is not a critical concept to understand, but now you understand a bit more when techies start throwing these terms around.

Email Service

You’ve logged into your laptop, and it has logged into your wireless network. Now you can access the services available on the Internet. Most people like to check their email accounts. Email services are accounts that require their own username and password. Just like your computer. Just like your wireless router (even if it happens in the background for your convenience). You need to log into email with a separate and different username and password. Username and password is sometimes call your login credentials. For the sake of security, your email login for email really should be different than that used for your computer or wireless network.

Besides email accounts, you may also have accounts with Amazon, your bank, or perhaps a membership organization. The concept is basically the same.

Conclusion

This blog post is meant to explain basic concepts. I can’t provide meaningful steps to regain access to an account with a forgotten password. My hope is that understanding the separate – but interplaying – systems will help you isolate where the problem actually lies.

Completely Configure Your Outlook.com Account in iOS

Outlook Logo

I recently reviewed Microsoft’s guidance for getting your Outlook.com (aka, Hotmail and Windows Live) email account. While they represent a good start, the instructions will likely leave you with some odd behavior. Granted that Apple is probably more to blame than Microsoft, I’d like to round out the instructions so you’ll have a better experience.

Here’s Microsoft’s advice:

iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch

  1. Tap Settings, and then tap Mail, Contacts, Calendar.
  2. Tap Add Account in the Accounts page.
  3. Select Hotmail.
  4. Enter your Outlook.com address and password.
  5. Select the fields that you want to sync. Tap Save.

Here’s the rest:

Outlook.com Configuration

 

  1. Return to your Outlook/Hotmail account settings (see Figure 1).
  2. Decide which services you’d like to sync with your iOS device (Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders).
  3. Tap Account.
  4. In the Description field, you can enter a name for the account. It can be anything. Keep it simple, though. “Outlook.com” or “Hotmail” or something else meaningful to you.
  5. Tap Advanced.
  6. Choose whether you want discarded messages to be deleted or archived.
  7. Tap Account in the upper left.
  8. Tap Done.
  9. Tap Mail Days to Sync.
  10. Decide how far back you wish to sync your messages. I chose No Limit, but you might have a compelling reason not to do this. If you limit the time, you might only see some messages on your iOS device. Then when you log in from a Web browser, you’ll see many more messages. This confused me the first time it happened.

Hope this helps!

Use iCloud for Your Mobile, Mac, and even Windows

iOS Icons for Contacts and Calendars

 

There are advantages to using Apple’s iCloud especially when you own an iPhone and a Mac. But even a Windows user will find compelling features.

Contacts

When you use iCloud Contacts, you can assign a relationship to each contact. This allows you to tell Siri “Call my wife on her iPhone.” Siri can find the contact quickly and connect the call for you.

Calendars

When you use iCloud Calendar, your events gain deeper integration into the iPhone. If you share iCloud-based calendars with others, you can be notified of any changes to those calendars in Notification Center and within the iOS Calendar app’s Inbox feature. And when you change an event, subscribers to your calendar are notified.

Macs

The Contacts and Calendar app in OS X can be connected to an iCloud account. When they’re connected, they synchronize with your iOS devices, Macs, and iCloud.com (more on that below).

In addition to simple synchronization, you can use these OS X apps to backup and export the data in your Contacts and Calendar app. Conversely, they can also be used to import data into iCloud. This is handy if you decide to migrate to iCloud and wish to bring your historical data (say from Google Calendar) with you.

iCloud.com

The Contacts and Calendar apps in iCloud.com are updated in real-time to and from your iOS devices and Macs. Changes and additions made at the Web site are immediately pushed to all your devices and, in the case of calendars, to those who subscribe.

You can also create and share your calendars with others (or even make it public) via iCloud.com.

The Web site is also helpful for Windows users. A Windows-based PC or tablet can access iCoud.com to manage your information and events, and those changes will be almost immediately pushed to your iOS devices (iPod touch, iPad, iPhone).

My Story 

When I first adopted the iPhone (remember the 3GS?), my wife and I were using Google for contacts and calendars. When Siri was introduced with the iPhone 4S, we wanted to use role names (husband, wife, mom, dad, etc.) to invoke calls. So we moved to iCloud Contacts to allow for that. That led to me logging into iCloud.com to view and edit contacts periodically, so the thought of moving our calendars to iCloud started to sound appealing. After some investigation and a test, I exported all our calendar data from Google and took the plunge. I used our MacBook Air’s Calendar app to import our Google data. And it moved over without a problem. The only odd thing I noticed was that the times from our Google events were imported as UTC (Universal Time). No big deal, though. A 3:00 PM ET event came in as 3:00 PM UTC, and since we’re not liable to create alarms on these past events, this is not a problem.

Something to consider. Hope this helps anyone agonizing over the thought of migrating to iCloud services.

Kwik Koncept: PhotoStream and iCloud

iCloud Icon

Apple introduced Photo Stream a few years back. It’s a great idea and is implemented well, but I’ve come to realize many people have misconceptions about the service.

 

Photo Stream Works Via Wi-Fi 

Your iOS device must connect to a wireless network (Wi-Fi) to send your photos to Apple’s iCloud service.

Photo Stream Needs iCloud 

Photo Stream synchronizes photos to other devices using iCloud. These can be other iOS devices, Macs, or Windows PCs. Each device or computer must be configured properly. Macs and iOS devices come with the iCloud software. Windows PCs must download and install the iCloud Control Panel.

Photo Stream is Not a Backup Service 

It keeps your photos from the last 30 days. Apple feels that is enough time for other configured devices to download those pictures.

Photo Stream Enables You to Backup Your Photos (It’s Not a Backup Service) 

This is best explained using a common scenario: You take a picture with your iPhone. That picture will remain on your iPhone until you delete it. If you have iCloud configured on that iPhone, it will upload the photo automatically to iCloud when the phone connects to a Wi-Fi network. Once the photo is in iCloud, it will download to all computers and devices configured to receive it. Now that the photo is on your computer, you may back it up (you do that, right?!) and you can either leave it on your phone or delete it from your phone.

Learn More: My Photo Stream FAQ

View All Calendar Events in iOS 7 [Updated]

Sometimes you want to see a simple list of upcoming events (or maybe event past events) in your iOS device. Apple’s new iOS 7 still has this functionality, but it might not be obvious until someone points it out.

  1. Open the iOS 7 Calendar app.
  2. Tap the Magnifying Glass icon in the upper right of the screen.

While the magnifying glass indicates you can search calendar events, you can also view your events in chronological order.

iosCalendarSearch

 

UPDATE: This tip applies to iOS 7.x. Apple changed this behavior in iOS 7.1.

Cure Stubborn Network Issues on Your iOS Device

There are times when your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch just refuses to connect to your wireless network (Wi-Fi). Here are some troubleshooting tips that could prove helpful.

Make Sure Wi-Fi Is On and Ensure You’re Connected

Well, of course your wi-fi is on! Right? Hmm. Better check.

  1. Tap the Settings app.
  2. Next to Wi-Fi, check to see if the wireless network’s name is there. If it is, then you’re connected. If not, continue to the next step.
  3. Tap Wi-Fi.

Ensure Wi-Fi is on. When it’s on, the toggle will be slid to the right and the background behind the toggle will be green. To turn it on, simply tap the toggle slider.

Sometimes, just turning the Wi-Fi off and back on will get your device back online.

When Wi-Fi is on, the iOS device will check for wireless networks in range. After a moment or two, network names should appear. When the device connects to a network, a checkmark will appear next to its name.

To connect to a network, tap the name. If asked for a security password, enter it and tap Join. I can’t help you if you don’t know the password.

WiFi Configuration

 

Renew Lease

No, not the lease on your condo. Renewing the lease means resetting the network connection.

  1. Tap the Settings app.
  2. Tap Wi-Fi.
  3. Locate the network to which you’re connected (see the one with the checkmark to the left of the name).
  4. Tap the Information icon (the “i” within a circle).
  5. Swipe to the bottom and tap Renew Lease.
  6. Tap Renew Lease? to confirm the action.

You’re done.

If you don’t see the Renew Lease item, tap Wi-Fi at the top left, then tap the network name again to re-enter it. Sooner or later it will show up. Yes, I know this is dumb, but you are dealing with a computer even if it’s a mobile device.

WiFi Configuration

 

Forget the Network

You can try having your iOS device forget the network and then reconnect to it. This is a more drastic action, but it has a high chance of success.

  1. Tap the Settings app.
  2. Tap Wi-Fi.
  3. Tap the network to which you’re connected (see the one with the checkmark to the left of the name).
  4. Tap Forget this Network.
  5. Tap Forget to confirm the action.
  6. Tap the name of the network you just forgot.
  7. Enter the password and tap Join.

See if you have a connection.

Reboot the Device

This is kinda like the nuclear option.

Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button at the top right edge of the device along with the Home button at the bottom of the front face of the device.

Keep holding both of these buttons. You might see a Slide to Power Off prompt, but ignore it. Just keep holding the buttons. The screen will go blank, then you’ll see the Apple logo appear. Now you can release the buttons.

You’ll be pressing these buttons for about 20 seconds or so which might feel longer than you think.

If you’re anxious about pressing two buttons simultaneously, don’t be. Just be sure to press them both at about the same time. The iOS device will give you about a second to press them which is longer than you think.

Did It Work?

If these tips don’t work, then try making an appointment at your local Genius Bar. Sorry.

Get Back Your Extension Icons in Chrome

Has Chrome made your extension icons disappear from your toolbar?

Extensions Icons are Missing

If you’re perplexed and can’t figure it out, you’re about to feel really dumb.

  1. Carefully place your cursor between the end of the address text field (where you type Web addresses) and the right-pointing chevron. The cursor will change to an east-west pointer.
  2. Click and drag to the left. You’ll see your icons appear on your toolbar.
Extensions Icons Return

All is right in the world again.

Solve Disappearing Notes in iOS

Sometimes I’m bewildered how Apple manages media and documents within their mobile operating system, iOS. The myriad ways are beyond the scope of this post. Recently though, I ran into an issue where some notes were disappearing from the Notes app.

When you create a note in the Notes app, it will be saved automatically for you. But where? Good question. Here’s what I learned:

The note will be saved on the phone and backed up somewhere else. Where depends on configurations in two different places.

Notes Sync Toggle

First (and most important), see how your mail accounts are configured.

  1. Go to Settings app.
  2. Swipe downward a bit, find, and tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  3. Under Accounts, you should see a list of accounts (e.g., Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, iCloud, etc.).

Tap each one to see if Notes is toggled to On. I suggest that Notes be set to On in only one account (more on that later).

Default Account Setting

Second, choose the Default Account for Notes.

  1. Go to Settings app.
  2. Swipe downward a bit, find, and tap Notes.
  3. Tap Default Account.
  4. Choose the service to which you want to back up your notes.

If you do not have a Default Account setting, you likely have only one account set to back up from the Notes app. Make sure that is true by checking each account.

When your notes back up to Yahoo!, you can find them in a folder named Notes. When you back them up to Gmail, they are given the label Notes. When you back up to iCloud, they are available within the Web-based Notes app.

Personally, I choose to back up my notes to iCloud. This allows me to edit the notes on my iPhone, iPad, and the iCloud Web site.

Remember, when I suggested having Notes set to On in only one account? Well, I found that if you change from one account to another in your Notes app, some or all of your notes have a nasty habit of vanishing from the iOS device. And it’s not easy to get them back on the phone. While they disappear from the mobile device, those notes will still be in the online service to which they were originally backed up. So that much is good.

The bottom line is that if you ensure your notes are backed up to only one account, you should be in good shape.