No Third-Party App Support for You: How Apple iOS 7 Hoards Playlists

iOS users are delighted by the new iOS 7 rollout, available not only on the new iPhones, but on previous models as well. And unlike Android users, most of whom fail to upgrade to the latest operating system, iOS users tend to upgrade en masse, which means many, many people already have iOS 7 or will have it shortly.

Not everyone is thrilled about a shift in how iOS 7 handles how playlists and albums synced from iTunes. Previous versions of iOS allowed third-party music apps to import them in one go, which meant that you could basically use whatever music player app you wanted, whether it’s designed specifically for driving, keeping up with social feeds, playing a trivia game, or whatever, and bring your iTunes playlists and albums into those apps with ease.

You can no longer do that in iOS 7 (which has another, unrelated issue that also affects music). Instead of listening to an iTunes playlist or album with a single tap in a third-party app, you have to tap each song individually in order to add them all.

“The default media selection interface provided by Apple, and used by Big Button Music Player (and many other music apps), is missing some key functionality that many people (including me) depend on,” wrote Big Button Player developer Robert Baker. “For example, the ability to add all songs from a playlist with a single tap, is now missing. Other developers have complained to Apple about this, so we’ll see if they listen.”

No Third-Party App Support for You: How Apple iOS 7 Hoards Playlists

That was five days ago; yesterday, Baker told Evolver.fm that the situation was unchanged. “Not really anything new, unfortunately,” he said. “The media selection issue is very bothersome.”

We confirmed what he’s talking about in his app (above right), and also within the new Discovr, released this week. Here’s what it looks like when you try to add, say, your Top 25 songs from iTunes in Discovr (left).

It’s unclear why Apple would want to keep iTunes albums and playlists to itself (they still play in the Apple Music app with a single tap, of course), but it is clear that it is happening. Maybe as Apple enters streaming radio market in a real way with iTunes Radio, and hopes to stay relevant as cloud music listeners migrate away from iTunes, it has realized there’s a lot of value in those iTunes playlists and albums — perhaps too much to let third-party app developers have access to them.

No Third-Party App Support for You: How Apple iOS 7 Hoards Playlists Evolver.fm observes, tracks and analyzes the music apps scene, with the belief that it's crucial to how humans experience music, and how that experience is evolving.