Rhapsody iPhone app never updates playlists and other stuff

Having problems updating your playlists on the iPhone Rhapsody app? I was. The message “Updating playlists” would just sit there and never go away. It appears that the problem relates to Dynamic Playlists. These are special playlists that change over time, like “Top 20 Pop/Rock Tracks”. It appears that the iPhone Rhapsody app chokes on these. If you remove them using the desktop app, your playlists will update. You can identify them by the icon next to the playlist name. It’s a two arrows in the circle instead of the musical notes.

The other thing to avoid is any “imported” songs in a playlist. These are songs not from the Rhapsody subscription, but ones actually on your PC hard drive. These will say “Imported” in the Track Type column in the list of songs in a playlist on the desktop application. These will not freeze the update, but the playlists will not show up on the iPhone app.

Another problem which I haven’t found a fix for is just keeping my library in sync between the iPhone app, the website, and the desktop app. I wish Rhapsody had a formal “Update Playlists” button, but it doesn’t. It seems to try to update if you close the app down and restart–actually kill the iPhone task, assuming you are using iOS4. Generally, the syncing works fine, but from time to time they get out of sync. Songs will appear in one or the other and never correct itself. The only thing that seems to work is deleting the c:Program FilesRhapsodyradfile.rcf file. I just had to do that and had to start all over re-creating my library!

I wish there was some sort of back up option so you could restore your library to some point, but I suppose that will never happen. I think the whole DRM/licensing mess just makes this harder than it needs to me. Oh well. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot depend on Rhapsody for my main music source and must continue to rely on actual files on my iPhone. I’ll still use Rhapsody to discover new artists and songs, as well as access old catalog stuff. However, I’ll use it in a more dynamic fashion and not care if the library or playlists get lost. Not the perfect solution, but not the worst scenario either.

Another limitation of using a subscription service like Rhapsody is when something isn’t in their catalog. If you’ve got the CD or MP3s, you can import it into the desktop environment, but you are SOL on the mobile client.

Still, I love Rhapsody and recommend it highly. Being able to access nearly any song I want on the fly is wonderful. The new background playing ability on the iPhone is awesome.

Quickly terminating an iOS4 multitasking iPhone app

I’ve always hated the way it takes several taps to close a web page on the iPhone browser. Apple takes a similar approach with handling multitasking apps in iOS4, but introduces a much bigger problem. The problem is to truly close (i.e., terminate) a background application, you have to switch to the Home screen, double-click to open up the task menu, long-press an icon and then select the app to terminate. That’s a lot of steps and a pain if you always want to truly close a particular app.

So far apps running in the background don’t seem to impact battery life too bad, but the big exception for me is the Tom Tom GPS app. This baby sucks juice like crazy. Anyways, with a little searching I came across this gem of a posting 30+ Super Secret iPhone Features and Shortcuts. Most of this stuff I already knew, but the sixth one down entitled “Hold Home for Five Seconds to Quit the Current App” was just what I was looking for.

Just hold the Sleep/Wake (aka Power) button until the power off screen appears. Then hold the Home button (the big button on the lower-front of the iPhone) until the app closes. Works perfectly!

You will notice that the icon will still appear in the tasks list, but as far as I can tell, it isn’t running and if you select it, the app boots like it is the first time and doesn’t return you to the state it was in last.

iPhone 4 Verdict? Awesome.

Got my iPhone 4 via FedEx. The 1-1/2 hours pre-ordering online was worth it. So far the darn thing is awesome. I love it. Here are some notes on my experience:

  • Display is so sharp. Kindle app text looks like paper. I can *easily* read even using the smallest font!
  • The ability to work with my work Exchange email/contacts and personal email/contacts separately or combined is wonderful.
    • NOTE: To sync a Google Apps account, the domain must have  “Enable Google Sync” enabled in the domain’s Google Apps Mobile settings section.
    • There’s a weird issue when using Google Apps email. Due to some issue with the way Google sets things up, the iPhone’s autolock timesout immediately causing you to have to enter your passcode alot. According to this forum posting, Google is going to fix it soon.
  • Very heavy, so fear of dropping is high.
  • Confirmed the antenna problem when you hold in your left hand. The Body Glove shell case I bought seems to fix. No big deal.
  • Multitasking! Can finally run Pandora in background while doing other things!
  • I wish there was some way to immediately close an app rather than having to go to the Multitasking ribbon, select and then close an app. I’ve heard though that iOS4 hibernates some apps, so even though they are there, they aren’t really running. You can’t really tell by looking at it. Also, supposedly it will eventually close apps and won’t keep adding to the ribbon forever. BTW, apps are ordered based on last used.
  • Very little shutter lag with camera. Seems to take nice pictures, but I haven’t really tested it much.
  • Was able to add my long-time ST:TNG ringtone by following the instructions here. Not as easy as on the Nokia, which lets you just point at any sound file, but, hey, it works. A little disappointed you can’t change the text message alert tone in a similar manner. How dumb.
  • Call quality on my side is way better than any Nokia I’ve had including my N97
  • The iPhone email client is lame. It’s weird how you have to mark folders in the settings or you can’t see their contents.