Trending February 2024 # Ultimate Ad Tech & Martech Guide In 2023 # Suggested March 2024 # Top 8 Popular

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Ad tech and martech have been inevitably linked but technically two very distinct areas of technology. As seen in Figure 1, the interest in these two words almost always went hand in hand, but seems to change in recent years. As digital marketing grows its share in overall marketing spend around the world, ad tech and mar tech tools get more established applications. In this guide, we will compare how ad tech and martech are different from each other and list the top applications of both technologies.

Ad Tech vs MarTech in a Snapshot

Ad TechMarTech ApplicationsAd-level, applied directly on a specific adCampaign or brand level BillingUsually variable based on ad volumeUsually fixed price as SaaS Top SolutionsDMPs, CDPs, DSPs, ad tracking & verification toolsWeb analytics, social media management, SEO, brand protection, CRM

Top Ad Tech Solutions

Below is a list of top ad tech applications. For more details on how each one of them works and which technologies they leverage, read our detailed post in the subject.

1. Data Management Platforms (DMPs) and Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) 2. Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) Top MarTech Solutions:

1. Social Media Management Platforms

Social media is no longer only a marketing platform but also a direct gateway to shop online. In 2023, Facebook reported that more than 1 billion Facebook users visited Facebook marketplace each month. Instagram shop as well reaches 187 million users per month.

Sponsored:

Web scraping services like Bright Data pull web data for businesses from targeted websites, processed and cleaned to run social listening and sentiment analysis. Check out their blog post to learn more about how it can be implemented.

2. Web Analytics and Website Optimization

Regardless of providing services online or not, websites are where businesses provide information about their products or build a brand image on customers. Once you set up a business website, you need to track how much traffic you receive, which sources bing you the most traffic or how much time your visitors spend on your website. As seen on Figure1, heat maps are also a crisp way to visualize where your visitors hover their mouse the most, as the parts of your website that receives the most attention. There are many martech tools you can leverage for optimizing your website traffic and experience. In order to some of the free website analytics tools or solutions that you can build in house, check out our detailed post about the subject.

4. Brand Protection

As brands’ online presence grows, the risk of ad fraud and copyright infringement become more prevalent. Martech solutions in this space provide services like scanning the web to find copycat websites or potentially false claims that may damage your brand protection. Read our detailed posts about brand protection and copyright infringement to learn more about how brand protection works and real life examples.

5. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

For more on marketing technology:

For more on the latest technology trends in marketing, check out our research in:

If you believe that your business may benefit from a web scraping solution, check our list of web crawlers to find the best vendor for you. And check our comprehensive hub of marketing solutions to explore different approaches in your business.

For guidance to choose the right tool, reach out to us:

This article was drafted by former AIMultiple industry analyst Bengüsu Özcan.

Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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3 Tips For Avoiding Ad Fraud

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A perfect storm of fraud

The problem of ad fraud is a fusion of two primary forces:

Buyers often fail to leverage third-party vendors that specialize in tracking and blocking fraudulent activity. This is especially true in open exchanges, where the volume is immense, and the action is fast, allowing for errors to simply slip through in the process. Spending the time, money, and effort to proactively mitigate those opportunities for fraud will cut into a brand’s profitability, and it is much easier (and more efficient) to just play the odds, hoping that most of the inventory will be legitimate at the cost of a small number of fakes.

The pace of fraud is overwhelming. Much like the cybersecurity industry, for each step forward the good guys take, it seems like the bad guys take two more. Staying ahead of the schemes and tactics is a colossal task, especially as new platforms like virtual reality, voice-activation, and chatbot experiences grow in popularity. When brands lack the bandwidth and internal resources to combat these issues, it is impossible for them to be expected to keep up.

Don’t get trapped in the undertow Use curated private marketplaces Insist on chúng tôi compliance

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has created the chúng tôi standard as a way to prevent unauthorized inventory sales. Publishers include this text file on their web servers, listing all of the companies that are authorized to sell their inventory, while on the other side, programmatic platforms will list the publishers whose inventory they are authorized to sell.

This allows buyers to check the validity of the inventory they purchase in order to ensure that it is legitimate. While the requirement of chúng tôi has yet to be enforced, choosing publishers and demand-side platforms (DSPs) that comply with chúng tôi can significantly reduce the likelihood of fraud.

Use pre-bid segmentation and post-bid reporting

Pre-bid targeting or segmentation allows buyers to purchase inventory on exchanges based on specific segments, including viewability, brand safety, suspicious activity, content categories, anti-fraud, as well as many other parameters. These filter out any known or potential fraud, essentially allowing buyers to bid on “clean” inventory.

The industry is making progress

The big vendors like IAS, DoubleVerify, and MOAT have made some great strides in the fight against fraud each year, and even the major DSPs have played a pivotal role in combating digital ad fraud by cutting fraudulent sources, even at the expense of their bottom line. But the reality is, there will always be individuals whose mission it is to stay one step ahead of emerging technology in order to find loopholes and then use those gaps in the system to exploit it.

The value of partnerships

By leveraging premium partners and inventory sources who specialize in combatting fraud, some platforms have seen their involuntary traffic (IVT) drop by 60% and maintain an average of less than 2% IVT. Working with vendors who are willing to show you the fruits of their efforts can give you the confidence to expand your digital ad plan and strategically increase your spend, knowing that those dollars will go towards attracting a real, human audience to your business.

Python Inline If: Ultimate How

As you continue your journey as a Python programmer, you’ll want to write code that is more efficient, readable, and easy to maintain. The Python programming language comes with a list of tools that allows you to simplify your code for better readability. One such tool is Python’s inline if statement.

In Python programming, an inline if statement, also known as a conditional expression or ternary operator, is used to assign a value to a variable based on some condition. It’s a compact version of the regular if statement.

Using the ternary operator in Python enables you to embed an if statement within other expressions. This offers a higher level of flexibility and control. When you use inline if statements in your code, you can maintain Python’s principles of readability while maximizing efficiency.

In this article, we’ll break down the Python inline if and show you how it works and when to use it. We’ll also share some handy examples so you can see it in action. So, buckle up and let’s simplify your conditional expressions with the Python inline if!

The following is the syntax of Python inline if:

value_if_true if condition else value_if_false

In the above syntax, we first evaluate the condition, which results in a boolean value. If the condition is true, the value_if_true is returned. Otherwise, the value_if_false is returned.

However, in order to understand the syntax better, it’s important to take a look at the various components of the inline if statement.

The Python inline if statement has three main components:

Condition: The expression that is evaluated, resulting in a boolean value (True or False).

Value_if_true: The value returned if the condition is true.

Value_if_false: The value returned if the condition is false.

The following is an example of a Python inline if statement:

x = 5 y = "Even" if x % 2 == 0 else "Odd" print(y)

In this example, the condition is x % 2 == 0, which checks if the value of x is even. If the condition is true, the variable y is assigned the string “Even”; otherwise, it gets assigned the string “Odd”.

Python inline if statements can also be used in different constructs, such as list comprehensions. An example of this is given below:

data = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] print(squared)

In this list comprehension, we square each value in the list data if it is greater than 2. Otherwise, it returns the value without squaring it.

Using inline if statements can make your code easier to read when applied appropriately. However, it’s crucial that you maintain a balance between concision and readability.

If your inline if statement is too complex, it may be better to revert to a multi-line if-else structure for clarity.

As a Python programmer, handling multiple conditions in Python is a task that you may encounter. To handle multiple conditions, you can use the elif and inline together.

In Python, the elif is used as a shorthand for an if-else statement. When using the if-else structure, you can chain any number of elif statements to write more complex code.

Suppose we want to categorize the given input as small, medium, or large based on the value of a variable. You can do this using the following if-else code:

x = 15 if x < 10: size = 'small' elif x < 20: size = 'medium' else: size = 'large' print(size)

In the above example, you can see the else clause used to capture alternate conditions. To get the same result using Python inline if-else statement, you can nest the if-else expressions like so:

x = 15 size = 'small' if x < 10 else 'medium' if x < 20 else 'large' print(size)

Specifically, we’ll be looking at the following:

Using inline if in loops

Using conditional expressions within inline if

Let’s get into it!

You can use inline if statements within loops in Python. This will help you write more readable code.

Let’s consider a situation where you want to print the squares of even numbers and the cubes of odd numbers in a given range. You can achieve that in a single line using the for statement combined with an inline if, as shown below:

for i in range(1, 11): print(i ** 2 if i % 2 == 0 else i ** 3)

This will output the calculations for each number in the range without the need for a full if-else block in multiple lines.

You can use conditional expressions with inline if statements by nesting your code. This is useful when handling multiple conditions in your script.

The syntax to use conditional expressions within inline if is shown below:

value_if_true if condition1 else (value_if_true2 if condition2 else value_if_false)

To help you better understand the concept, take a look at the following example:

x = 5 result = ( "x is equal to 5" if x == 5 else ("x is between 1 and 10" if 1 <= x <= 10 else "x is not between 1 and 10") ) print(result)

This nested inline if statement evaluates multiple conditions and returns the output.

Limiting the nested levels, as nested inline if statements can be hard to read.

Using parentheses to improve readability.

Using these guidelines, you can make great use of inline if statements within loops and conditional expressions.

Now that you’ve understood the basics of inline if statements, let’s take a look at what are the best practices and common pitfalls when writing such statements in the next section!

We’ve listed a few best practices and common pitfalls to make your code more presentable. Specifically, we’ll be looking at the following:

Making proper indentation

Avoiding using semicolons

Let’s dive into it!

When you are using inline if statements, it is important to use proper indentation. This will help you in maintaining readability and understanding the code flow.

In the example below, we’re comparing two ways of writing the same code:

# Without proper indentation my_value = 5 # With proper indentation my_value = 5 print("Value is greater than 10") print("This is much easier to understand") else: print("Value is not greater than 10") print("Now it's clear what this code does.")

You can use the following tips to make proper indentation:

Use consistent indentation, preferably four spaces, throughout your code.

Avoid mixing tabs and spaces for indentation.

Always indent the nested expressions to show the flow.

You can use semicolons to write multiple statements on a single line, but they’re discouraged. In the context of inline if, using semicolons can lead to confusion and less readable code.

The following example shows why you should avoid semicolons:

# Good practice # Bad practice (semicolons)

When working with inline if statements, it’s important to stick to best practices and understand common pitfalls.

Now that you’ve understood the best practices and common pitfalls when working with inline if statements, let’s look at how you can use it with other Python features in the next section.

In this section, we’ll explore how to use the inline if together with other Python features. We’ll be looking at the following two use cases:

Using inline if with lambda functions

Using inline if for input validation

You can use lambda functions to create simple functions. These functions consist of a single expression that’s evaluated when the lambda function is called.

The following is an example of using inline if with lambda functions:

result = multiply_or_add(3, 4) print(result)

In this example, the lambda function multiply_or_add takes two arguments x and y. It multiplies them if x is greater than 5; otherwise, it adds them. The inline if allows us to express this logic in a single line.

You can use inline if for input validation as well. When receiving input from a user or external source, it is necessary to validate that the input meets certain criteria.

For instance, you might want to ensure that an inputted value is an integer or that it falls within a specific range. You can achieve this by the following code:

input_value = input("Enter a number between 1 and 100: ") integer_value = int(input_value) if input_value.isdigit() else None if integer_value is None or not (1 <= integer_value <= 100): print("Invalid input, please enter a number between 1 and 100.") else: print(f"Your input is {integer_value}.")

In this example, we prompt the user to enter a number between 1 and 100. First, we use the inline if to check if the input is a digit and convert it to an integer.

Then, we use another inline if to validate that the integer falls within the given range. If the input is invalid, we print an error message; otherwise, we print the inputted integer.

To know more about handling errors in Python, check out the following video:

On your journey with Python, you’ll find the inline if statement useful in multiple scenarios. It helps make your code shorter and cleaner. Once you master the use of inline if, it’ll boost your coding speed and enable you to solve problems with style and efficiency.

Why learn it if you have the simple if statement? It’s important to learn the inline if statement because it makes your code easier to understand for others to understand.

Furthermore, using the inline if statement adds a new style to your code that’s commonly found in the code of expert Python programmers. With inline if, you use fewer lines of code and more straightforward logic.

In the end, the Python inline if is all about making your life as a coder a little bit easier. It’s about writing cleaner, more efficient code without sacrificing readability. So, give it a shot, play around with it, and see how it can simplify your conditional expressions. Happy Pythoning!

Ultimate Windows 8 Starter Guide: Must

The year is drawing to a close, so there’s a very good chance that you now find yourself staring straight down the gaping maw of Windows 8.

Maybe someone gave you a new Windows tablet or PC as a gift. Or maybe you decided to use your holiday down time to upgrade an old PC. The details don’t really matter. You’re now using Windows 8 for the very first time, and you’re searching for answers on how to make the OS an integral, productive part of your high-tech life.

Sound familiar? Then walk with me as we take a tour of recent PCWorld Windows 8 coverage. I trust we have answers to all your Windows 8 questions.

Getting started with Windows 8

Right when the new OS launched, we published a number of essential how-to guides for first-time Windows 8 users. You can start your orientation process with this handy guide to maximizing your first 30 minutes with the new OS. But perhaps even more useful is our compendium of 20 must-know Windows 8 tips and tricks, which starts off with a thorough look at keyboard shortcuts—you should know them all if you don’t have a touch screen.

But if you do have a touch screen device, then head straight to our guide to Windows 8 gesture commands. In this article (and in its accompany video) we describe how to navigate the initially confusing touch commands that leave many first-time users wondering what the heck just hit them.

You really can’t get the most from the new Windows 8 modern interface unless you have a 10-point multitouch display.

And if you don’t have a touch screen monitor for the new OS, you should definitely read our guide to picking the right upgrade display for full Windows 8 compatibility.

Windows 8 drivers, utilities and customizations

Once you’ve become somewhat acclimated to the new Windows 8 landscape, it’s time to fine-tune the OS experience to your personal preferences. At the top of the list is driver management. It’s very possible that your new Windows 8 device boots up fine, but unless all your device drivers are up-to-date, you won’t get the most high-performance experience possible (and driver issues may stop some peripherals from working altogether).

See our exhaustive guide on the whys, hows and wheres of Windows 8 drivers to nip all these issues in the bud. Utilities like Win8 Start Button will help restore a bit of normalcy in the new OS.

Some Windows 8 problems have nothing to do with drivers. Instead, the OS itself is just innately challenging. To alleviate some of the built-in pain points, you absolutely must read our guide to the 8 worst Windows 8 irritations and how to fix them. Microsoft’s decision to omit the traditional Start Button is among a host of bizarre development decisions, but luckily three different third-party utilities—Win8 Start Button, StartMenuPlus8 and Start8—can return the erstwhile Windows mainstay to your desktop.

But, hey, Microsoft didn’t kill all the good things from previous versions of Windows. It just relegated many of them to hidden, second-class status. For a bunch of great tools hiding beneath the surface of Windows 8, check out this collection of 6 awesome Windows 8 utilities that no one knows about.

In the weeks since the new OS launched, we’ve published a number of deep-dive tutorials that explore the system’s more innovative, richer features. For example, BitLocker To Go is built directly into Windows 8, and helps you quickly encrypt external storage devices like USB flash drives and portable hard drives. If you’re concerned about your data security, you should also read our how-to on activating Windows Defender, a basic anti-malware tool that’s not immediately exposed in many default installations of the OS.

Portable drives can be tapped for use in both Storage Spaces and BitLocker To Go.

Finally, it’s possible that you just installed Windows 8 on a machine from yesteryear, and your gear isn’t up to the task of running the new system in all its glory. If you find yourself in this sorry lot, read our tutorial on optimizing Windows 8 for older hardware. It explains which features to turn off, or otherwise disable.

Windows 8 apps and games to explore and download

Windows 8 comes with a bunch of pre-installed “modern UI” apps, so you might as well familiarize yourself with the most high-profile entries. We have detailed primers on Music, Photos, Mail, Calendar, SkyDrive and People. None of these apps is perfect, though the SkyDrive cloud service is an integral part of the new Microsoft ecosystem, so you really should check out its implementation in Windows 8.

Precisely because Microsoft’s built-in apps are so lacking, you’ll want to hit up the Windows Store for Windows 8 apps to populate your new Start Screen. On the day Windows 8 launched, we published our top 10 list of the Windows 8 apps to download first, but just this week we updated the concept with a new article geared specifically to Windows 8 tablets.

New Windows 8 hardware owners should also read our suggestions of the best streaming media apps for cord cutters, the best Windows 8 casual games (our author tested a vast selection, and then chose the 15 most worthy), and best productivity apps.

9 Facebook Ad Targeting Tips For More Conversions

How does Facebook ad targeting work?

On Facebook, ad targeting is based on three different types of target audience:

Core audiences, which you target based on demographics, behaviors, and location.

Custom audiences, which allow you to reconnect with people who have already interacted with your business.

Lookalike audiences, which allow you to target people similar to your best customers but who may not know about your business yet.

9 tips for effective Facebook ad targeting in 2023 1. Target your competitors’ fans using Audience Insights

The Audience tab in Meta Business Suite Insights offers a ton of valuable information that can help you understand your Facebook followers. You can then use the data to learn how to target potential new followers and customers.

It’s such a treasure trove that we’ve got an entire article dedicated to using Audience Insights for better targeting.

But our favorite Audience Insights strategy is to use the information it provides to learn who you’re competing with on Facebook, then target your competitors’ existing fans.

Here’s a quick how-to:

Open your Audience Insights dashboard in Meta Business Suite and select Potential audience.

Go back to the Filter selection tool. Clear your existing filters and type the name of one of your competitors’ Facebook Pages in the Interests box. Not all competitors will come up as an interest, but for those that do…

Create a new audience based on these new demographic insights, then test it against one of your existing audiences.

Of course, you can further target this audience to make sure you get the best fit for your specific business and campaign goals, but this is a great way to start finding relevant people on Facebook.

You can find more details in our Audience Insights how-to article.

2. Use Custom Audiences for remarketing

Remarketing is a powerful Facebook targeting strategy to connect with potential customers who have already expressed interest in your products.

Before you can use Facebook Custom Audiences based on website visits, you need to install the Facebook Pixel.

Once that’s done, here’s how to create your remarketing audience:

Go to Audiences with your Ads Manager.

From the Create Audience dropdown, choose Custom Audience.

Choose your pixel.

Under Events, choose which types of visitors to target.

Another option is to create a custom audience based on data synced from your CRM. For this option, you’ll create your audience within Hootsuite Social Advertising.

In Hootsuite Social Advertising, create a New Advanced Audience.

Choose to target existing customers.

Request a free demo

Find more details in our blog post on how to use Facebook Custom Audiences.

3. Find people similar to your best customers with value-based lookalike audiences

Facebook Lookalike Audiences allow you to build targeted lists of potential customers who share characteristics with all the people who already buy from you.

Value-based lookalike audiences allow you to more specifically target people who share characteristics with your most valuable customers.

Before you can incorporate customer value into a lookalike audience, you need to create a customer value custom audience:

Go to Audiences within your Ads Manager.

From the Create Audience dropdown, choose Custom Audience, then choose Customer list as the source.

Now, you can use this list to create a value-based Lookalike audience to target your highest value potential customers:

Go to Audiences within your Ads Manager.

From the Create Audience dropdown choose Lookalike Audience.

Choose the value-based custom audience you created above as your source.

Select the regions to target.

Select your audience size. Smaller numbers more precisely match your source audience characteristics.

Find more details in our guide to Facebook Lookalike Audiences.

Facebook helps you understand how relevant your ad is to your selected audience based on three ad relevance diagnostics:

Quality ranking

Engagement rate ranking

Conversion rate ranking

The whole point of Facebook ad targeting is to get your ad in front of the specific audience that’s most likely to take action based on that exact ad. This is the very definition of relevance.

Here are some simple ways to help improve your ranking scores for Facebook’s ad relevance diagnostics:

Focus on quality, including great visuals and short copy.

Choose the right ad format.

Aim for low ad frequency.

Low-quality ranking: Try changing the target audience to one that’s more likely to appreciate the specific creative in the ad.

Low engagement rate ranking: Refine your targeting to reach people who are more likely to engage. Audience Insights can be a great help here.

Low conversion rate ranking: Target a higher-intent audience. This could be as simple as selecting “engaged shoppers” under purchase behavior (see Tip #5). But it could also mean targeting people who have an upcoming anniversary, or who have another behavior or life event that makes your product or service particularly relevant to them right at this moment.

Remember, relevance is all about matching the right ad to the right audience. No one ad will be relevant to everyone. Effective targeting is the only way to achieve a consistently high relevance ranking. Test regularly and aim for a regular Facebook targeting update to make sure you’re continuing to target the right people with the right content.

To access the Engaged Shoppers targeting option:

Create a new ad set, or open an existing ad set, and scroll down to the Audience section

Under Detailed Targeting, type Engaged Shoppers in the search bar.

6. Find your unicorn content

This tip is a little bit different. It’s about targeting your ad’s content, rather than choosing the right Facebook target audience.

This concept was coined by MobileMonkey CEO and Inc. columnist Larry Kim. He suggests that

only 2% of your content will perform well both on social and in search engine rankings, while also achieving high conversion rates. He argues that content marketing is a volume game, and you simply have to create lots of “donkey” content (you can guess what that means) to get to the unicorns.

So what’s your unicorn content? It’s that blog post that absolutely blows up on your social channels, climbs to the top of the Google rankings, and drives a ton of traffic to your landing pages.

You can’t predict what will “go unicorn” based on factors traditionally used to define great content (like great writing, keywords, and readability). Instead, you’ve got to keep a close eye on your social media analytics and performance.

When you spot overachieving content, repurpose it as a Facebook ad. Make it into an infographic and a video. Test this content in various formats for your key audiences to make it work even harder.

Most importantly, use the rest of our Facebook ad targeting tips to make sure you match your unicorn content to the audience that’s most likely to engage with it.

7. Get ultra-precise with layered targeting

Facebook offers tons of targeting options. On the surface, the options are divided into three main categories: demographics, interests, and behaviors. But within each of these categories, things get pretty granular.

For example, under demographics, you can choose to target parents. Or, more specifically, you could target parents with toddlers.

Think about how these layers of targeting combine to create a hyper-focused audience. You could choose to target divorced parents of toddlers who work in management. And that’s just looking at demographics.

Do you see where this is going? If you run a high-end beach resort that offers a childcare program and no single supplement, you could create a promotion that specifically targets single parents in management-level jobs who love beach vacations and travel frequently.

If you market products or services tied to life events, even tangentially, you can target people who have recently moved, started a new job, gotten engaged or married. You can target people in their birthday month, or leading up to their anniversary. You can even target people whose friends have an upcoming birthday.

As you build your audience, you’ll see on the right side of the page how small your audience has become, as well as your potential reach. If you get too specific, Facebook will let you know.

8. Combine two unique audiences together

Of course, not every product or promotion is naturally suited to the kind of precise Facebook targeting explained in the tip above.

Maybe you don’t know exactly which demographic or behavior categories you want to target with a specific ad. You only have a broad sense of a category you’d like to target. So, what do you do if that Facebook target audience is just too large?

Try combining it with a second audience, even if that second audience seems completely unrelated.

For example, let’s think about creating an ad audience for this GoPro video featuring LEGO boats:

#GoProAwards recipient Canvas 23 Studios sent his creations into the high seas with #GoProHERO10 Black as cargo 🚢 Show us your unique GoPro videos at chúng tôi for the opportunity to take home $500 + a social feature, like Evan.

Posted by GoPro on Thursday, July 21, 2023

To start, we could build an audience of people who are interested in GoPro, videography, or video cameras. Even limiting the audience to people aged 22 to 55 in the United States, that creates a potential audience of 31.5 million people.

Now, in this case, the video features LEGO boats. So, what’s the obvious audience to add in here?

Yep, LEGO fans.

That cuts the potential audience size down to 6.2 million. And it would likely result in a much higher engagement rate, since people would be specifically interested in the video content, not just the product featured in the video.

In this case, we worked backwards from an existing video. But you could also decide on two unrelated audiences to combine, then create a targeted piece of content to speak directly to that group.

9. Use broad targeting to find your target audience

What if you’re just getting started and you don’t know yet who your target audience is? We’ve got a whole blog post on how you can start to figure this out through audience research.

Request a free demo

Easily plan, manage and analyze organic and paid campaigns from one place with Hootsuite Social Advertising. See it in action.

Ios 7: The Ultimate Music App Guide

The Music app is a stock application that comes preinstalled on all iOS devices. It’s the primary way for playing music on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. With iOS 7.0, a new feature was baked into the stock Music app called iTunes Radio. iTunes Radio is an ad-supported service that allows users to browse more than 250 curated stations. Users can also create and build their own stations, which feature Pandora-like customization over time.

While there are many ways to play music via third-party apps on iOS, the stock Music app is the only music application that’s closely integrated with iTunes and allows you to use the iTunes Match iCloud-hosting service. There may be benefits to other apps like Spotify, but no app is as tightly intertwined with the rest of iOS as the stock Music app. With that in mind, please take a look inside, as we break down the many facets of this ever-growing and ever-changing stock application.

Table of contents Playing

Playing music is as simple as launching the stock Music app and tapping on one of the songs found inside the tabs at the bottom of the interface. Tapping on a song will bring up the primary play screen with the transport controls at the bottom of the screen right beneath the album artwork.

The primary play screen is where you’ll be spending the majority of your time when actually listening to music inside the stock Music app. The play screen features many controls that we’ll break down starting with the main controls.

The Music app’s transport controls

The transport controls are the controls that make up the lower portion of the play screen beneath the album artwork. It begins with the music scrubber—the little timeline that shows the progression of a song and the amount of time it will take to complete the song—and ends with the repeat, create, and shuffle buttons at the bottom of the interface.

The scrubber

The scrubber is the little bar beneath the album artwork that allows you to manually progress through a song by dragging your finger across the bar. Dragging from right to left moves to the beginning of a song, and the inverse motion moves to the end of a song. But there’s more to it than meets the eye when it comes to the scrubber.

Hi-Speed Scrubbing

When you first begin scrubbing through a song using a tap-and-drag gesture, the Music app places you in hi-speed scrubbing mode. Hi-speed scrubbing is good to use when you want to briskly move through a track, but it’s not very effective when trying to locate precise points of a song. To help with precision, Apple implemented a clever method for reducing the speed of the scrubbing. As you tap and hold on the scrubber, drag your finger up towards the album artwork to adjust the speed of the scrubber.

Adjusting scrubbing speed using a slide up gesture

Hi-Speed Scrubbing – ten second increments

Half-Speed Scrubbing – six second increments

Quarter-Speed Scrubbing – two second increments

Fine Scrubbing – one second increments

Of course, each speed increment value is approximate, and depends on how quickly you move your finger horizontally to initiate the scrub.

Song details

Directly beneath the scrubber lies the name of the song in bold letters, followed by the artist name and album name. It’s not immediately obvious, but tapping once on the song details reveals the ratings interface, which allows you to assign a star rating to the track.

Rating a track

A song can be rated between one and five stars, or can remain unrated. If you’d like to hide the rating, tap to the left or to the right of the rating interface to once again reveal the song details.

Transport controls

Beneath the song details lie the actual controls that allow you to play, pause, skip songs, and go back to previous songs. You can also use tap and hold gestures to fast-forward or rewind a song.

Skip, Back, Pause, and Play

The controls are self-explanatory, in that you tap the play button to play and pause a song, and use the back/forward buttons to go to previous songs and go to the next song respectively. Tapping and holding on the back button will perform an incremental rewind, where the longer you hold on the button results in faster rewinds. Likewise, the skip button allows you to perform an incremental fast-forward.

Volume slider

Beneath the transport controls lies the volume slider. This volume slider is one-way linked to the physical volume buttons on your device.

The Music app volume slider

Repeat

At the very bottom of the primary play screen, you’ll find three buttons that allow you to perform different functions directly related to the now-playing song or artist. The first in the series of three buttons is the repeat button. Tapping the repeat button yields a sheet menu that allows you to adjust the repeat settings for the now-playing song, playlist, album, etc.

Using the repeat button

For example, if you’re playing an album, you’ll receive a pop up that allows you to turn repeat off, enable repeat song, or enable repeat album. Depending on your selection, the text on the button will change to reflect your setting.

Create

The create button allows users to create a Genius Playlist, or a new iTunes Radio station based on the now-playing artist or song. The Genius Playlist feature automatically generates a playlist of songs from the user’s local library, which are similar to the selected song. The included songs are based on algorithms to match the type of songs as closely together as possible.

When you don’t have enough songs to create a Genius Playlist, you’ll see this error

Playlists come in multiples of 25. If you don’t have enough songs to create a Genius Playlist, you’ll receive an error message stating such. If you have a fairly large iTunes library, then in most cases you shouldn’t encounter the error.

Creating a new iTunes Radio station from artist

The other two options found by tapping the Create button—New Station from Artist and New Station from Song—allow you to create new iTunes Radio stations. These stations don’t rely on the number of songs contained in your local library, as they are streamed directly from Apple’s servers. The stations created using either of these options will closely match the style of music from the origin song or artist.

Of course, we will have more details regarding iTunes Radio in our iTunes Radio section below.

Shuffle

The shuffle button comes into play when you have three or more tracks available to play. Shuffle allows you to play each song in a random order after initiating the first song.

The shuffle button

The shuffle button

Each song can be comprised of an album, playlist, or a group of unrelated songs. Shuffling a group of songs results in a completely new play-path every time you initiate a play.

Notice the count at the top of the screen after tapping the shuffle button

When starting a shuffle from a list of songs, you will notice that tapping the shuffle button results in the “of” count at the top of the Music app interface to reset to one of however many songs you have in the queue. Disabling the shuffle mode will cause the “of” count to resort back to its natural order.

Shuffle mode is a great way to keep your music feeling fresh and clean. It’s especially useful when working out. The iPod Shuffle—Apple’s most diminutive device in its product line—was created based off the popularity of the shuffle mode found in larger iPods.

Album artwork

Besides looking appealing to the eye, the album artwork contains a feature that allows you to see more about the album related to the now-playing song. Double-tapping on the album artwork will reveal a list of each song from the album available on your local device. The now-playing song will feature an animated equalizer bar next to it. You can tap on any of the songs contained on the album to quickly switch between songs.

Double tapping the album art reveals all songs contained on the album

But what if you double tap the album artwork for an album where you’ve only purchased one or two songs? If you have only purchased select songs from the album, and not the entire album, a “show complete album” button will be available to show all songs from the album. Tapping this button will reveal all of the songs from the album, with the purchase price directly to the right of the name of the song. Songs that you already own will be in bold, and songs that are available for purchase will be displayed in light gray.

Only own a few songs from the album? Show the complete album

At the bottom of the list of songs contained in the album, you’ll find a “Complete my album” button. This allows you to purchase all remaining songs from the album that you don’t currently own. The price to complete an album will depend on how many tracks you currently own. So, for instance, if you own every track on an album except one, the price to complete the album will probably be in the ballpark of $1.29 USD.

There are a few other functions that I want to be sure to mention before moving on to the next section. First, you can access the same album detail view by using the button in the upper right-hand corner of the interface. This button provides you with the same detail view that you receive when double tapping the album art.

Tapping the button in the upper right-hand corner shows the album detail view

Lastly, you can rate individual songs using the album detail view. Use the rating button in the upper left-hand corner to rate each song. See the illustration below for more details on how to rate each track. Note that only tracks that you actually own can be rated.

Rating a track in album detail view

Landscape mode

Placing your iPhone into landscape orientation will reveal all of the albums available on your device in a bulletin board view. You can swipe left and right while in landscape mode to view your entire collection of album art. You can zoom in or out of the album view by using a two-finger pinch gesture. The lowest zoom level is two rows of albums, while the highest zoom level is four rows of albums.

Use a two-finger pinch gesture to zoom in and out of your albums

Tapping on an album will zoom in on the album art and allow you to view all of the available songs associated with that album. You can then play songs individually, and man limited controls for play, pause, skip, and back.

Playing album content via landscape view

The landscape album art view can be accessed from anywhere in the stock iOS 7 Music app, except for when you’re using iTunes Radio. It replaces the iconic “Cover Flow” view found in earlier iterations of iOS with something more usable and practical. You can quickly switch back to normal view by holding your iPhone in portrait mode.

Lock screen controls

The Lock screen provides basic control over now-playing music. Like the controls in the stock Music app, it allows you to play, pause, skip, and go back to previous tracks if applicable. The Lock screen controls also feature a scrubber, albeit it’s a scrubber that doesn’t have the same precision options found in the full-blown Music app.

Lock screen controls are available whenever music is playing

You’ll find a volume control slider and the album artwork of the now-playing song beneath it. Unlike previous versions of iOS, you no longer have to double tap the Home button in order to reveal the transport controls—they appear by default whenever music is playing.

Control Center

Like the media controls found on the Lock screen, the Control Center media controls allow you to manage playing, pausing, skipping, and going back to previous songs where applicable. Unlike the Lock screen controls, the Control Center music controls are accessible from anywhere, including the Lock screen.

Using Control Center’s media controls

Due to the nature of the Control Center media controls, you can use the precision scrubbing features when moving forward or backwards through a song.

Headphones

Another, perhaps less thought about way to control music, is by using Apple’s EarPods with Remote and Mic. The iPhone comes bundled with a set of EarPods, but you can buy a retail pair as well. The EarPods allow you to control music using the buttons contained on the remote control built into the cord below the right earbud.

Apple’s EarPods with Remote and Mic

The EarPod remote control features three buttons pertaining to music control—volume up, volume down, and play/pause/skip. To play or pause music, press the middle button—the one between the volume up and volume down buttons—once. To skip to the next song, double-press the middle button. It’s a great tool to use when exercising and/or using the Music app’s shuffle mode.

Siri

Like many other functions found in iOS, the Music app can be controlled with Siri. There are several voice control functions that can be performed using Siri. We’ve documented many of the popular Siri commands in our iOS 7: The Ultimate Siri guide.

Playing a song from the Music library using Siri

There are many Siri commands for both Music and iTunes Radio. Here are some of the commands that you can use:

Music Library

Play Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana

Play The Fame shuffled

Play Jim James

Play some bluegrass

Play my japan mix

Shuffle my road trip playlist

Play

Pause

Skip

iTunes Radio

Play iTunes Radio

Play my rock station

Play my Jim James station

Play more songs like this one

Don’t play this song again

I like this song

Buying music

Most of the purchasing process happens inside the iTunes Store app and not the Music app. Starting in iOS 7, the stock Music app does have the ability to complete some purchases directly using features like the aforementioned “Complete my album” option. But it’s generally recommended that you stick to the iTunes Store app, as it has the most comprehensive search and discovery features when it comes to purchasing music.

You can buy music directly from the Music app in special situations

The iTunes Radio portion of the Music app is another great way to go about discovering and purchasing music directly. We’ll discuss the iTunes Radio portion of the Music app in just a bit.

Searching

The iOS 7 Music app allows users to search their music library from virtually anywhere within the app. To initiate a search, pull down the page until the search bar is displayed and type in your search terms. The search returns results dynamically so that you can see its results in real time.

Performing a search

Searches are displayed in the following order:

Artists

Albums

Songs

Genres

Composers

Compilations

Audiobooks

If no items appear for one of the search sections listed above, then that section will be omitted. Tapping on an artist, album, genre, composer, compilation, or audiobook will display a list of all of the items that fall within that criteria. On the other hand, tapping on a song will begin playing the song immediately.

It’s possible to move your search to the iTunes Store app

At the very bottom of the search results you’ll find a button that says “Continue Search in Store.” Tapping this button will open the iTunes Store app and display your search results for the search term you used in the Music app.

Editing tabs

The Music app is only capable of displaying five tabs at the bottom of the screen simultaneously. Since there are limited tabs available to be displayed, some have to be omitted (the fifth tab is the “More” tab, which allows you to access the additional hidden tabs). You can always tap the more button to access the hidden tabs, but if you find yourself doing that a lot, you might consider moving the often used section to one of the available tabs at the bottom of the interface.

Editing tabs in the Music app

To edit which tabs are actually displayed at the bottom of the app, you’ll have to tap the More tab in the bottom right-hand corner, and then tap the edit button in the upper right-hand corner. The edit button will allow you to pick, choose and rearrange your tabs using any of the available tabs.

Moving tab locations

Once you’re in tab edit mode, drag any of the tabs to your desired location. You can even move tabs that are already located at the bottom of the interface if you wish to do so.

Undoubtedly, the biggest new feature found in the stock Music app, and one of the biggest overall features to hit iOS 7, is iTunes Radio. iTunes Radio is Apple’s answer to streaming music apps like Pandora. It’s free to use, but it’s also a clever way for Apple to upsell its users on buying songs directly from the iTunes Store.

As of late there have been rumblings that future versions of iOS will feature a standalone iTunes Radio app. That may, or may not prove to be true, but for now, iTunes Radio can be found exclusively within the stock Music app.

iTunes Radio features well over 250 curated radio stations based on DJs and genres. Like Pandora, your stations are cultivated through the music you play. Stations are also influenced by the music that you download from the iTunes Store. Like similar offerings from third-parties, the more you use iTunes Radio, the more it learns about what you like to hear, and the better your stations will become.

Unlike the normal music that resides in your library, iTunes Radio stations cannot be scrubbed, fast forwarded or rewound. In most cases, with the exception of live events and other special stations, you can skip songs, but you can only skip up to six songs per station per hour.

Launching iTunes Radio

There are several ways to launch iTunes Radio, but the easiest way is to open the stock Music app and tap on the iTunes Radio tab at the bottom of the screen. If you don’t see the iTunes Radio tab, you’ll need to edit your tabs to move iTunes radio to the bottom menu bar. See the section above entitled Editing Tabs, in order to learn how to do this.

You can also launch iTunes Radio while playing songs using the create button at the bottom of the now-playing interface. In this instance, iTunes Radio stations can be created based on artist or song.

iTunes Radio interface

The main iTunes Radio page is broken up into two primary sections. At the top of the screen, you’ll see a list of Featured Stations. These are curated stations sourced by DJs, artists, and other means. Sometimes these stations will consist of previews of upcoming albums, or guest DJs. A featured station can consist of a group of songs, or a “live” streaming event that repeatedly loops, such as with Apple’s iTunes Festival at SXSW.

Scrolling through the Featured Stations

Other Featured Stations might include the iTunes Weekly Top 50 pop collection, or additional best of collections. There’s a pretty diverse group of featured stations available at any one time, so it’s a safe bet that you’ll find at least a few items that appeal to you.

Beneath the Featured Stations section is a section called My Stations. The My Stations section contains a grouping of all of the stations created by you. You can even add the Featured Stations mentioned above to your collection of personal stations.

The My Stations section is where you should keep all of the stations that you genuinely enjoy listening to. You can always manage or delete a station by using the edit button found in the upper left-hand corner near the My Stations heading.

History

The played tab allows you to view a history of the songs that you’ve listened to sorted by time and station. You can preview the songs in your history by tapping on the album artwork. There are also quick links found to the right of each song for purchasing directly from the iTunes Store.

You can’t clear individual history items from iTunes Radio

Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t allow its users to clear individual items from the iTunes Radio history. If you want to clear out an item, you’ll have to use the clear button in the upper left-hand corner to clear out all of the items; it’s an all or nothing affair.

Clearing individual items from the wish list is possible

You can, however, clear individual items out of the wish list, and you can also clear all items from there in one fell swoop if you wish to do so.

Now-playing interface

The now-playing interface is quite a bit different than the interface found in your normal music library. For starters, music played with iTunes Radio features no back button, because you can’t rewind, repeat, or go back to a previous song. The back button is instead replaced by a star button which assists with curating your radio stations. We’ll go more in-depth with curation features a couple of sections from now.

The differences between a song from the library (left) and iTunes Radio (right)

Since I own Regina Spektor’s album in the example above, you’ll notice that the option to purchase the song in the iTunes Radio interface isn’t present. When creating a radio station from a song you already own, iTunes is smart enough not to present purchase options to you since you already own the song.

See the purchase button? iTunes has no idea that I already own this song

Sadly, that’s pretty much the only case where iTunes is smart enough to know that I already own a song. For instance, if a song plays during an iTunes Radio play session, and I happen to already own that song, iTunes isn’t smart enough to figure that out.

Yep, iTunes just let me purchase a song I already had in my library…

Yes, iTunes will let you purchase a song that you already have in your music library or iTunes match, so you’ll have to be extra careful, especially if you have a large library where it’s easy to forget what you own.

In most cases while playing an iTunes Radio station, you’ll notice an ‘i’ button at the top-middle of the now-playing interface. This button allows you to access more radio station options.

Tapping the info button yield more options

For starters, you’ll find a quick link to purchase the current song. You’ll also find a button that allows you to view all of the tracks associated with the song’s album, which is, again, useful for getting customers to purchase the content that they listen to.

Below the song information, you’ll find two buttons for creating a brand new radio station using the song or the artist as a mold. This is similar to the option found in the library to create a new station based on song or artist.

The Tune This Station feature allows you to specify what type of music you want to feature on your station. This option is only available for custom stations. If you move the slider to the left-most side, the station will play the most popular hits. If you move the slider to the right-most side, the station will play songs that aren’t as well known, but increases the discovery potential of new songs.

Tuning a custom iTunes Radio station

Below the tuning option, you’ll find a toggle for enabling explicit tracks within iTunes Radio. This explicit toggle is a global feature, so it modifies the behavior of all of the radio stations contained within iTunes Radio.

Lastly, you’ll find a share button for sharing your iTunes Radio station with others. Sharing a radio station keeps your custom name and curation options intact. You can share your station via Messages, Mail, Twitter, Facebook, AirDrop, or by copying the link to the station itself.

Creating stations

The simplest way to create a new iTunes Radio station is to tap the new station button located under the My Stations section of the main iTunes Radio interface. From there, you can select from several subsets contained in a list of genres, or use the search box at the top of the screen to create a new station by artist, genre, or song.

The simplest way to create a new iTunes Radio station

One of the cool things about creating a new station this way is that Apple provides you with a preview of the type of music you’ll hear within the station. If you’re content with the preview, you can tap the plus button towards the right-side of the station name to add the station to your My Stations section.

Stations can be created using a variety of methods. For example, using the Edit feature allows you to create a new station:

Creating a new station from the edit interface

…You can also add a currently playing Featured Station to your list of stations:

Adding a Featured Station to My Stations

…Or create a new station from the artist or song associated with a song currently playing on a station:

Create a new station from a song or artist from a Featured Station

…Or create a new station from an artist or song of the music in your music library:

Creating a new station from music you own

One of the nice things about creating a new station from music that you already have in your library, is that the song that you’re currently playing will continue to play as a part of your new station, and new songs will play after the currently playing song is completed. The way that Apple pulls this off makes for a seamless transition between the music you own and the music you play on iTunes Radio.

Of course, as previously mentioned, you can create a radio station using Siri. Again, here are the commands that can be used to interact with iTunes Radio via Siri:

Play iTunes Radio

Play my rock station

Play my Jim James station

Play more songs like this one

Don’t play this song again

I like this song

Editing and curating stations

The primary way to curate stations is to use the star button on the now-playing screen. The star button allows you to play more songs like the current song or to never play the current song.

Play more like this

Never play this song

You can also add songs to your iTunes wish list for later retrieval and purchase.

Adding a song to the iTunes wish list

Using the edit button in the upper-left hand corner near the My Stations heading allows you to edit your favorite stations. Editing allows you to rearrange, rename, or delete any of the stations added to your My Stations section.

Deleting an iTunes radio station

Deleting a station is as easy as tapping the edit button and swiping from right to left on the station you want to remove. You may also delete a station by tapping the edit button that resides inside of the edit interface and delete each station by tapping on the red ‘-‘ symbol that resides next to each station.

Another way to delete stations

Being in the edit mode allows you to rearrange the order of the stations as well. Once you’re in the edit interface, tap edit again to view the drag-handles used to rearrange the station order. The changes will be reflected in your group of My Stations.

Rearranging an iTunes Radio station

For custom stations that you create, you can change the name of the station by tapping on the station while in edit mode.

Renaming a custom station

Curate your station using the Play More or Never Play options

For stations curated by Apple, you are not allowed to rename or curate the station manually, since these are canned-stations that don’t fluctuate or evolve based on listening habits. You can, however, share or delete the station by tapping on the name of an Apple-curated station while in the edit interface.

Overall, iTunes Radio is a great new addition to iOS. It’s also available on the Apple TV and the Mac. All of your curated stations go with you no matter the platform, which makes for an immersive experience. I was skeptical at first, but after thoroughly exploring its features, I can attest that iTunes Radio is an awesome new addition to Apple’s repertoire.

Albums

The albums tab contains an alphabetical listing of each individual album found in your music library.

Viewing individual albums is a great way to find specific tunes

If there’s a specific album that you want to hear, this is the best tab to use to go about doing that. For me personally, it’s my go-to tab when it comes to playing music from my personal library.

Artists

The artist tab features an alphabetical list of all of the artists found in your music library. Each artist name is associated with the album artwork from an album they are featured on. Tapping on an artist will allow you to view a list of all of their songs grouped by album.

You can view all of the songs and albums related to a specific artist

At the very top of the individual artist page, you’ll find a button to shuffle all songs by that artist. This is useful for the times when you want to hear a specific artist, but don’t necessarily care about the actual song that plays.

Audiobooks

If you have an audiobook synced to your device via iTunes, then an audiobooks section will show up under the more tab. You can add the audiobooks tab to the bottom of the Music app interface if you go into edit mode and drag the audiobooks tab to one of the four tabs at the bottom of the screen.

The audiobook playback interface

Playing an audiobook works very similarly to playing a music track, with a few exceptions. First, the interface has changed to accommodate the extra buttons used for playing audiobooks. Secondly, some of the unnecessary features have been removed to help simplify the interface.

The most obvious change is the presence of two new buttons, one for skipping back 15 seconds, and the other for skipping forward 15 seconds. There’s also a speed button located in the bottom right-hand corner of the interface. This speed button allows you to adjust the speed of the playback by 1x, 2x, and 0.5x speeds.

Compilations

Soundtracks can count as a compilation

Compilations are generally best-of albums, soundtracks, or multi-disc sets. A special key has to be set within iTunes to label a collection of songs or an album as a part of a compilation.

Composers

The composers tab allows you to view individuals who worked on a project behind the scenes

If you’re looking for a specific person who’s had a role behind the boards, then the composer tab is the tab for you. This allows you to view individuals who have played a part in creating a song, even if they didn’t necessarily sing on the song.

Genius

The Genius tab allows you to play predetermined genres using Apple’s Genius algorithm. These are auto-generated mixes that take a lot of the work out of creating a quality mix from a specific genre.

The Genius section doesn’t play very nice with iTunes Match items that are in the cloud

Genres

I guess you could say that I have diverse tastes in music

There are dozens upon dozens of different musical genres, and this tab allows you to key in on specific ones. This is a great tab to use if you’re in the mood to listen to a particular style of music.

Playlists

The playlist tab lets you create, manage, delete and play playlists. There are actually two types of playlists available in the playlists tab: Genius playlists and normal playlists.

A normal playlist can be created by tapping on the new playlist button at the top of the playlist page. You’ll be asked to enter a name for the new playlist followed by the songs you want to add to the playlist. Songs can be added based on artists, albums, or composers. Once you finish adding songs to your playlist, tap the done button in the upper right-hand corner to finish the playlist creation. You’ll then find your new playlist, with an album cover represented by the first track listed, in the playlists tab.

Creating a new playlist

To edit a playlist, tap the edit button in the upper left-hand corner of the playlist. You can then tap the red ‘-‘ button to delete individual tracks, or use the drag handles to rearrange the order of the songs in the playlist. Once you are finished editing the playlist, tap the done button.

You can delete individual tracks from a playlist without actually entering the edit mode. Simply swipe from right to left on a song featured in the playlist to bring up the delete option.

Deleting individual playlist items

To add additional tracks to a playlist, tap the edit button in the upper left-hand corner and then tap the ‘+’ button in the upper right-hand corner. You’ll see a list of all of the songs on your device, which will allow you to add new songs to the playlist.

Clearing a playlist

If you’d like to clear all of the tracks associated with a playlist without actually deleting it, you can use the clear button located at the top-middle of the individual playlist page.

There are two ways to outright delete a playlist. You can swipe from right to left on the playlist itself, or use the delete button when in the individual playlist view.

To outright delete a playlist, swipe from right to left on the playlist remove it

Using the delete option in the individual playlist view

Genius playlists

The Genius playlist feature automatically generates a playlist of songs from the user’s local library which are similar to the selected song. The included songs are based on algorithms to match the type of songs as closely together as possible.

Creating a Genius playlist

Once your Genius playlist is created, you can use the refresh button to dynamically refresh the content of the playlist. Each refresh will cause the playlist to pull in new songs based on the song you used as a baseline for the playlist.

Radio

The Radio tab is for iTunes Radio. Please see the iTunes Radio section above for more in-depth information.

Songs

The songs tab is the most granular view you can possibly have when it comes to the items in your music library. When you tap on an item in the songs view, the song will begin playing immediately.

One of the perks of using the songs view is the shuffle button. By using shuffle in songs view, you can shuffle-play all of the songs in your entire library.

Shared

Shared libraries allow you to access a ton of extra content from your local computer

Tapping on shared will allow you to select the shared library and play songs available from your local computer. This is a great way to expand your music library locally without taking up additional storage space on your iOS device.

One of the benefits of buying music from iTunes is that all of your music is stored in iCloud—Apple’s cloud storage solution. When you log into your iCloud account on any device, all of the music that you have purchased automatically appears.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the same applied to all of your music, even if it wasn’t purchased via iTunes? That’s the premise behind iTunes Match; it allows you to store or match all of your music in the cloud and access it from any device.

iTunes Match is a subscription-based service that costs $24.99 annually. You can learn more and subscribe by visiting Apple’s official iTunes Match page.

Benefits

We won’t get into all of the particulars of iTunes Match, since that goes beyond the scope of this guide, but I wanted to highlight a few of the benefits of iTunes Match that I particularly enjoy:

iTunes Match subscribers get an ad-free iTunes Radio experience

iTunes Match will match all of your content, and only upload the items that it can’t match

Matched content is high quality (256-Kbps AAC DRM-free) even if your original content was low quality

You can play iTunes Match content from anywhere—the Mac, PC, iOS/Apple TV

You can store up to 25,000 songs using iTunes Match (not including those purchased via iTunes)

You can stream iTunes Match songs in order to save storage space on your device, or download the songs for offline access

Enabling iTunes Match

The iTunes Match splash screen

The songs and the album art that accompanies them will take some time to download depending on how many songs you have stored with iTunes Match. You will see placeholders of album artwork until all of the songs can be properly downloaded.

Notice the album art placeholder—it will take some time before all album art is downloaded

As mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of using iTunes Match is that it frees up a lot of the space available on your iOS device. You no longer have to download or sync your entire iTunes library to your device. Instead, you can stream all of the music stored in the cloud.

Streaming music directly from iCloud

If you know you’ll be in a place without access to the internet, you can download your favorite songs for offline listening. This is accomplished by tapping the cloud icon that resides to the right of any songs stored in iCloud. You can download single songs, entire albums, or entire playlists using the cloud icon.

Downloading music from iCloud for offline listening

Since you can download music from iCloud for offline play, it would only make sense if you could delete items as well. Deleting items can be done for iTunes Match content as well as for content purchased from the iTunes Store. To delete a song, all you need to do is swipe on the song from right to left and tap on the delete option. The song will still be listed and available for streaming, but it will no longer be available for offline play until you download it again.

Deleting a song from the local device

In conclusion, I believe that iTunes Match is well-worth its $24.99 annual asking price. It allows you to store all of your music— whether you purchased it from iTunes or not—and makes it accessible from anywhere. Better yet, it saves you from having to use up storage space on your devices, because all of your music is streamable and downloadable on demand. iTunes Match mixed with iTunes Radio makes for a very compelling one-two combo.

Shake to Shuffle

This is a fairly self explanatory setting. It allows you to shake your device to enable shuffle mode while playing music with the stock Music app.

Sound Check

This feature allows you to hear all of the songs in your library at a normalized volume. Sound check tries to play back all of your songs at an equivalent sound level so that your music won’t be outstanding loud or quiet.

EQ

Alter the Music app’s equalizer settings using any of the following pre-configured settings:

Acoustic

Bass Booster

Bass Reducer

Classical

Dance

Deep

Electronic

Flat

Hip Hop

Jazz

Late Night

Latin

Loudness

Lounge

Piano

Pop

R & B

Rock

Small Speakers

Spoken Word

Treble Booster

Treble Reducer

Vocal Booster

Depending on the type of music that you’re listening to, you may benefit from adjusting the EQ setting. For instance, if you’re listening to an audiobook, you may want to select the Spoken Word EQ setting.

Volume Limit

Designed to prevent hearing damage when using headphones, you can set a max limit for music played through the stock Music app. This is a good setting to use if you have small children who like to listen to your device.

Lyrics & Podcast Info

This setting allows you to remove the text that appears on top of the album artwork for lyrics and podcast information.

Group By Album Artist

Sort albums under the artist tab by album artist.

Show All Music

As we discussed earlier in the iTunes Match section, you can download music directly to your iOS device, or keep the music in the cloud and use streaming. This option allows you to hide all music that is not downloaded locally to your device. This is a handy option for those moments when you’re offline, or when you don’t want to worry about downloading songs. This option will ensure that only the tracks that you can play immediately without internet access are displayed.

iTunes Match

Enable iTunes Match. Learn more about iTunes Match here.

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The Music app is an incredibly deep stock application—and that’s readily apparent just by looking at the scope of this guide. I learned a lot about the Music app as I wrote this, and I hope that you did as well.

Apple has a wonderful ecosystem on its hands, and its been strengthened with the addition of iTunes Match and iTunes Radio. While the popularity of iTunes and music purchases may be declining due to competitors like Spotify and Pandora, it’s nice to see that Apple is trying to take preventative measure to ensure it stays strongly entrenched in the digital landscape.

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