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Topic: a Tale of Four "not-so-smart" Playlists

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Old 10-23-2016, 06:45 PM
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a Tale of Four "not-so-smart" Playlists

This is an interesting situation. Just to be clear, I don't consider anything here "serious". No game breaking failures, nothing that makes me want to throw my phone against a wall. Just a few curiosities. Things I wish were a little more predictable. On the iPod Classic they were predictable, which makes this a little more odd. Why did the earlier music player have no problems with something that confuses the heck out of the more advanced operating system?

With a large library I do almost all my listening via playlist. In particular, I like smart playlists to keep recent repeats to a minimum. So in my library I have a sort of master list called, imaginatively enough, "Main List"; that currently contains well over 10000 songs (everything except my seasonal and novelty music).
I listen to four main smart playlists with some regularity. I should probably explain too that I do most of testing and checking of stuff in my car now, since the Uconnect display is the only place I still get track numbers displayed.

1. "The Best". This is fun, upbeat music I listen to at the gym or when I'm alone in the car. It has only two qualifications; a) tracks with four or five stars and b) "last played" is not in the last 35 days. This does not tie back into "Main List", which means some seasonal and novelty songs are included.
It works fine. Exactly as I'd want it to.

2. "MegaMix". This is what I listen to 90% of the time. I like a wide range of stuff; and I like how I can have classical and classic rock right next to each other. This list has three conditions a) must be playlist "Main List" b) plays is greater than 0 and c) "last played" is not in the last 70 days.
It works fine in iTunes. And it will update whenever I sync. But it won't EVER update on the device.
The work around is simple. I sync four or five times a week. But its mildly annoying when I switch off this list for some reason, and then come back to it; and promptly get three songs I just listened to! If it were working correctly (like it does in iTunes and used to on my iPod classic) those songs wouldn't come back for 70 days! Like I said, I have a work around, but it is occasionally a minor annoyance.

3. "Worship". My Sunday morning playlist. Clever, right? This has three conditions and again does not directly tie back into "Main List" since I have a small number of songs that are ONLY on this list. a) "rating" is in the range three to four stars b) "last played" is not in the last 45 days and c) "genre" is not "holiday".
This list works almost better than expected. On "The Best" I can see the number of tracks on the list update every time I reselect the list; but on "Worship" the track count updates every single time a song ends! Bizarre. iTunes will do this, but my Ipod never did. Its like, in this case only, the iOS device functions more like iTunes than a mobile device. It is certainly not a problem! But it is unexpected.

4. "Recently Added". Self explanatory. This has two conditions. a) playlist is "Main List" and b) play count is zero.
This list is completely broken. I have never seen a single track ever added to this list on the iPhone. Since I can no longer assign star ratings to my songs from the device anyway its not such a big deal. But because of how broken this list is I long ago got used to doing all of my initial listening direct from iTunes on my computer. Its not like that's a huge burden, just an annoyance. But it sure is curious it won't work at all!

Now as I said up top I check this mostly in my car. I can start on Megamix and see I have 3812 songs on the list. After listening to 20 songs I can switch to "the Best" and see 688 songs. After listening to ten tracks and switching back to Megamix it will STILL have 3812. Now if I jump right back to "The Best" it will show 678, reflecting the ten songs I listened to earlier. While Megamix is stuck on 3812.
This makes me wonder what is broken on Megamix? It COULD be the "playlist is Main List" requirement, but Main List IS on the device. All my music is on the device. My only other thought is just if the file is too big. Can the device not process playlists over 1500 or something? THAT I could fix!

Sorry for a monster long post! But I do find the logic, or not, of the smart playlists to be fascinating. If anyone actually knows what's going on I'd love to hear!

Last edited by atcDave; 10-23-2016 at 10:20 PM.
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Old 10-24-2016, 10:27 AM
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Megamix will only update on sync. It can't change because all the music is not present. That is the complaint that most of us have using smart playlists. This can't be fixed without a HUGE storage capacity that has all your tracks on it. The missing Main playlist is the cause.

I try to remember where I left off on my Radio (like MegaMix) playlist if I have to switch. Then go back to that spot and continue.

The Best is working like I would expect. No count updates.

Worship is weird. I have not seen the track count update since my iPod mini. This implies that you have your uConnect performing a task that makes it reload the playlist after each song, like select a random track. This could do it. Though I don't have uConnect to play with.

Recently Added should work, if your Main playlist has unrated or unplayed tracks in it. I don't know the rules for Main so it is not easy to guess, other that it may not have unrated music in it.

I logged a bug against apple for the lack of the ability to rate a song on iOS. They so far have responded for me to upload a video of me trying to rate a song. I responded with the fact that they would have to enable the feature for me to video an attempt to use it. Waiting for a reply.



Have you backed up your iTunes Library this week? If not, you are risking losing your music and playlists....
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Old 10-24-2016, 12:06 PM
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Main List IS on the device, it's not a smart list, it's just a list of over 10K songs that some of the other lists draw from. I can even find the songs on it that don't currently qualify for other lists.

Interesting thought about if I have Uconnect doing something different on the lists. I always have shuffle on, otherwise it just pulls tracks alphabetically! But I'm wondering if it could have to do with selecting the list BEFORE I get in the car vs using the Uconnect's own menus.

Recently Added does seem like the biggest glitch. And it's been that way as long as I've had the device. It just really doesn't like that list!

I'm glad to hear someone else has told Apple. I always figure they just roll their eyes and hit delete when they see a text from me. So the more the better!
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Old 10-24-2016, 01:15 PM
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Your device has:

Works: Main: 10K songs, normal playlist
Works: The Best: 35 songs, 4 or 5 stars, not played in the last 35 days, source is unknown
Broken: MegaMix: Playlist is Main, Plays > 0, not played in the last 70 days
Works: Worship: 3 or 4 stars, not played in the last 45 days, genre is not holiday, source is unknown
Broken: Recently Added: Playlist is Main, Plays = 0

So it seems that things that rely on Main don't work.

Some questions:
For MegaMix, how is the Plays rule actually written? Is it Plays is not 0 or Plays > 0 or something else?
For MegaMix is Live Updating checked?
Is the top level Rule to match All rules?

For Recently Added, how is the Plays rule actually written? If it Plays is 0 or Plays = 0 or Plays < 1 or something else?
For Recently Added is Live Updating checked?
Is the top level Rule to match all Rules?



Have you backed up your iTunes Library this week? If not, you are risking losing your music and playlists....
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Old 10-24-2016, 02:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjmnews View Post
So it seems that things that rely on Main don't work.
That would be correct. Even if the "source" playlist is resident on the device, another smart playlist that references it (Main in this case) will not Live Update on the device. This is a known issue since iOS 3.1 from many years ago. All this time has gone by and this is still a problem, with the only solution being to re-sync your device to iTunes. This has been a gripe of mine (and Code Monkey's) for years, and I don't see it ever getting resolved by Apple now that they've added layers of complexity to their music environment (i.e. iCloud Music Library, iTunes Match, Apple Music, etc.)

Coming from a traditional iPod one would think that the computing power of a brand new device running the latest iOS software that it could handle Live Updating no matter what the conditions were. Certainly the device could handle it, but the software is not wired to do this anymore. Clearly Apple does not care about fixing this ... I've complained to their feedback channel each and every major iOS release since iOS 3, but nothing's changed.
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Old 10-24-2016, 02:01 PM
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For both broken playlists the "match music for all" is selected, as is "live updating". This is the same for those lists that are working.
On "MegaMix" I had "plays is greater than 0" selected, and just last night switched it to "plays is not 0". I can't say yet if it made any difference, I'll report back on that later. (I only just now noticed there were the two ways of ordering basically the same thing).
Recently Added has "plays is 0" selected.

I guess I also should have mentioned those lists not drawing from "Main List" pull from the whole library.
I have a couple special and Holiday lists that are structured rather differently. I've not paid much attention to them yet, until just recently I was operating under the assumption nothing worked correctly until it was synced, so it's somewhat surprising to me to find a couple playlists that are working correctly.
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Old 10-24-2016, 02:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjmnews View Post
I logged a bug against apple for the lack of the ability to rate a song on iOS. They so far have responded for me to upload a video of me trying to rate a song. I responded with the fact that they would have to enable the feature for me to video an attempt to use it. Waiting for a reply.
I suspect that the removal of star ratings via the iOS Music app was intentional on Apple's part as their way of "simplifying" things for the user. They have the Like/Dislike feature that is used by those who stream Apple Music, so the having Like/Dislike and stars is apparently too confusing for us feeble-minded users

So, like some other built-in apps that I've found replacements for, I'm now using "Marvis" to rate my songs from my iPhone. This app (and others like it) can not only display star ratings, but also let you change them and allow your ratings to sync back to iTunes. My hope is that Apple will leave iTunes alone and let star ratings continue, as I have 10+ years of ratings that would go up in smoke if Apple nanny's me into using Like/Dislike everywhere.
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Old 10-24-2016, 02:33 PM
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Wow, rockmyplimsoul thanks for some very useful info!
I guess now I know not to waste my time trying to debug those lists any further. I knew I'd had problems going a ways back, but I guess it was a false hope when I discovered a couple of playlists were working, I thought there was more hope for the others.

Unless.. what if I put something in remarks for all my "Main List" songs? Then changed the condition away from "Main List" playlist to "Main List" in remarks?
The only reason I hesitate to do this is I have other playlists structured around remarks. So if I select over 10K tracks with Get Info, and edit remarks; will it overwrite remarks already there, or just add the new one?
Perhaps I should try something different like changing genre? That might work?
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Old 10-24-2016, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
That would be correct. Even if the "source" playlist is resident on the device, another smart playlist that references it (Main in this case) will not Live Update on the device.
I have smart playlists that are dependent on only playlists on my iPod Nano and they update automatically when I leave and enter the playlists. This also works for a different playlist I have on my iPhone. So I don't think your assertion is correct. I agree that while you are in the playlist it will not update using all iPod/iPhone controls.

The Worship playlist is the oddball. I'd be curious if the uConnect random is not using the iPod / iPhone shuffle command. I see complaints about it not being actually random, which sounds like the Apple Shuffle. Though the automatic update of the Worship playlist is weird.

I would expect that his MegaMix playlist should work. Where the recently played items would fallout if the playlist was exited and re-entered. The rule update for the Plays may be the problem. I was trying to search for old threads that were discussing the difference in the Plays rule and which ones work. I'll look at mine when I get home. Maybe the change where Plays is not 0 or Plays is less than 1 will fix hist MegaMix and Recently Added playlists.

I'll have to check out Marvis. Sounds like a way for me to rank my music on my Phone while on my weekly plane trip.

I'll poke the Apple beast now and then with bugs. They finally fixed one of my bugs 2 revisions of iOS after I submitted it. I wish they could fix the reconnection to WiFi issue I have on my iPhone 6. I should probably log that one.



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Old 10-24-2016, 02:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjmnews View Post
I have smart playlists that are dependent on only playlists on my iPod Nano and they update automatically when I leave and enter the playlists. This also works for a different playlist I have on my iPhone. So I don't think your assertion is correct.
iPod Nano does not run iOS. What I say is correct for iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad because they run iOS, which the OP is presumably using.
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Old 10-24-2016, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by atcDave View Post
Unless.. what if I put something in remarks for all my "Main List" songs? Then changed the condition away from "Main List" playlist to "Main List" in remarks?
The only reason I hesitate to do this is I have other playlists structured around remarks. So if I select over 10K tracks with Get Info, and edit remarks; will it overwrite remarks already there, or just add the new one?
Perhaps I should try something different like changing genre? That might work?
Currently you're defining what is in "Main List" by manually dropping songs in there, since this is a regular and not smart playlist. If you can find another way to define this population of songs, then you'd avoid the broken "Playlist Is ..." criteria in your smart playlists. So you can either do that by putting something like "Main" into the Comments section of each song's tag, or adopt some other field in the tag (like Grouping). This would change your smart playlist criteria from "Playlist Is ..." to "Comments Contain ..." or "Grouping Contains ..." both of which should resolve the issue.

It would be a hassle to maintain, though since you're already manually managing what goes into "Main List" you're just replacing that maintenance with a different activity. My version of your "Main List" playlist is a conglomeration of multiple smart playlists, so I can't do this. But for what your'e doing, you could accomplish the same results with a field rather than a core playlist.
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Old 10-24-2016, 03:30 PM
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That sounds very easy. I like grouping, that's one I haven't used.
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Old 10-24-2016, 04:15 PM
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The only caution for using Grouping is that it has a purpose for classical music, where you'd put the "work" for the particular item. I don't listen to classical, and not sure exactly what a "work" is or how it applies to music, but I should mention that Grouping does have an intended purpose in case you or others come across this. But if you're not into classical, feel free to re-purpose this field.
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Old 10-24-2016, 05:21 PM
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I am into classical, well some. It's not something i've seen, so I'll say I'm willing to mess with it.

My guess would be it has to do with linking longer works that required more than one CD or something? But I'm not THAT kind of classical listener!
I break my music into smaller chunks. The fourth movement of Beethovan's Nineth Symphony clocks in at just less than 25 minutes, its the longest single track in my library. I love it, but then I'm ready for some Beach Boys...

I actually just did it. In iTunes it looked fine. So of course I sync it, and I'm back to 1/3 of my library being grayed out with little circles off to the left again...
Sigh.
Looks like another full reset and reload tonight...
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Old 10-24-2016, 05:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockmyplimsoul View Post
iPod Nano does not run iOS. What I say is correct for iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad because they run iOS, which the OP is presumably using.
I know I have at least 1 playlist on my iPhone that works this way.

3 that I can think of are:
Unrated Songs
iPhone Audiobooks
individual audiobooks



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Topic: a Tale of Four "not-so-smart" Playlists

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