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Ask the iTunes Guy: Coping with iTunes features that have disappeared

Kirk McElhearn | July 27, 2015
Whenever a new version of iTunes rears its head, new features are added, but also some features get cut. In this week's column, I look at several of these features that are missing in action. In some cases--such as shuffling all music by an artist in the iOS Music app, or streaming Beats 1 radio over AirPlay--I offer a workaround. For another, I can only lament that certain useful features have been axed.

Whenever a new version of iTunes rears its head, new features are added, but also some features get cut. In this week's column, I look at several of these features that are missing in action. In some cases--such as shuffling all music by an artist in the iOS Music app, or streaming Beats 1 radio over AirPlay--I offer a workaround. For another, I can only lament that certain useful features have been axed.

iTunes Radio and explicit lyrics

Q: My favorite part about iTunes Radio was that you could filter for explicit lyrics. Has that been removed?

iTunes Radio no longer exists as such; it is now called Apple Music Radio. And with the change, Apple cut out many of the features that I felt made iTunes Radio a really great service. In the past, you could:

  • Mark songs you didn't like by choosing Never Play This Song.
  • Mark your favorite songs by clicking a button.
  • Customize stations by choosing three levels of diversity: Hits, Variety, and Discovery.
  • Share stations, including the tweaks you made using the above features.
  • Turn off explicit lyrics.

Now, not only can you not customize stations, but many of the stations I had set up in the past no longer exist. I guess Apple wants you to use the "curated" playlists of Apple Music rather than iTunes Radio stations. The only stations that exist now are quite limited, though you can still create a station from a given song or artist. That station is merely a sort of genius mix based on the seed you choose.

Shuffle music by an artist on iOS

Q: I wanted to use my iPhone to play an artist and shuffle all their songs. That capability is now gone. It used to be that one could go to an artist, see all albums, pull down and select Shuffle All, and listen to all songs on all that artist's albums at random. Are you aware of a work-around that can restore this feature?

If you tap the "..." button to the right of an artist's name, you can tap Play Next, or Add to Up Next, adding their music to the Up Next queue. However, when you start playing the music, there's no shuffle icon.

Not only has shuffle been removed for artists, but also for songs. You used to be able to shuffle all your songs by tapping Songs in the tab bar at the bottom of the window, and then scrolling down a bit to display the big, very visible Shuffle bar above your songs. But that is no more.

You can, however, get the song shuffle to work, using this workaround, or using Siri, if your device supports the virtual assistant. Just tell Siri to "Shuffle music," and your iOS device will start playing your music in shuffle mode.

 

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