iPad: a playlist lover’s best friend

Kirk McElhearn
13 June, 2010
View more articles fromthe author

With a new device comes new possibilities. And while the iPad is much more than just a portable music player, you’ll probably listen to music on it from time to time.

One feature that is greatly improved on the iPad compared with its implementation on the iPhone and the iPod touch is the ability to create and edit playlists. Your only choice on these smaller devices is to use the on-the-go playlist feature. But the iPad has some extra-large playlist-creation features up its sleeve. (Apple announced that the iPhone OS 4 update, due out in a couple of weeks, will add playlist-creation support as well, so these features may not be limited to the iPad for long.)

Find music, create playlists

To access your music on the iPad, you tap the iPod app. This displays an interface that is closer to that of iTunes than that of a pocket-size touchscreen device. The left column shows your library: music, podcasts, audiobooks, and any playlists you have synced. Tap an entry to see its contents to the right.

To create a new playlist, tap the plus (+) button below the sidebar. This brings up a box — similar to the one you get when prompted to enter a Wi-Fi password — asking you to name the playlist, as well as an on-screen keyboard to type it. Enter a name and then tap Save.

The playlist displays briefly in the sidebar, and then a list of all your songs pops up. Each song has a blue plus (+) icon to the right; to add a song to the playlist, just tap the icon next to its name. This song list shows only limited information, though: the song name and artist. So if you have more than one version of a song, you won’t know which album the song comes from. Under the volume slider in the upper left corner there’s a Sources button — use it to pick from music, podcasts, audiobooks, or other playlists to build a new playlist.

You can view your music in other ways, too, to add songs to a playlist (the Sources button serves the same function with them all). At the bottom of the song list are buttons labelled Songs, Artists, Albums, Genres, and Composers. Tap one of these to see your music sorted in different ways. If you tap Artists, you’ll see each artist’s name with a single album cover in front of it (assuming all your music has album art). Tap an artist name and you’ll see all the songs you have by that artist, sorted by album and then song on the right, with album art on the left.

Tapping Albums displays all your albums as cover art graphics, similar to what you see in iTunes’ Grid view. Tap an album image to get a pop-up of its contents; tap a song to add it to the playlist.

Tap Genres and you’ll get a Grid view display of your genres. Tap one and you’ll see a pretty useless pop-up menu of all the songs or tracks in that genre, without any artist or album information to help you figure out what’s what. Lastly, if you tap Composers, you’ll get a display similar to that of Artists: one line for each composer, with a name and album cover.

Whichever method you use to find your music, just add all the songs you want and then tap the blue Done button, at the top right of the window.

Work with your playlists

A big difference with the iPad’s playlist feature compared with that of the iPhone and iPod touch is in what you can do after you’ve made a playlist. Choose a playlist by tapping it in the sidebar. Then, if you don’t like the way you’ve set it up, you can make changes. Tap the Edit button. To change the order of the songs, tap and hold the three-line icon at the right of a song, and drag it where you want. If you want to delete a song, just tap the red minus (–) icon and then the Delete button that appears. And if you want to add songs, tap the Add Songs button next to Done and throw another few songs or albums in the mix. When you’ve finished, tap Done.

Want to make a new playlist? Tap the plus icon again and start the process over — you can create as many playlists as you want. Tired of your playlist? Tap Edit, tap the red icon to the left of the playlist’s name, and then tap Delete.

You may even find that making playlists on an iPad is easier or more convenient than doing so on your Mac. Since any playlists you create on the iPad are copied to your Mac when you sync them, you can use this method to set up playlists to enjoy on your computer as well.

There are a few shortcomings with playlist creation on the iPad, however. You can’t easily create playlists of TV shows, movies, or music videos, which are confined to the Videos app (unless, that is, you’ve created a playlist containing videos on your computer to sync with the iPad — and even then, the iPad treats them as songs). You also can’t create smart playlists. At least not yet.

One Comment

One person was compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. kazunori Odaira says:

    Being age of 63, I badly needed larger screen than iPhones
    to enjoy movies(downloads from uTube, etc). Thus I bought
    iPad(3G/wifi 64GB: to accomodate my library exceeding 1,000 music & movies each). When I flew to NY from Narita, I was shocked to have found that I was not able to play movies on the playlist continuously(shuffle /repeat).
    Can you imagine how troublesome to return to iPod eachtime
    if you want to play your favorite movies. I gave up to do so after one hour and had no fun the rest 13 hours.
    Do you have any idea whether Apple would upgrade iPad to solve this problem ? My iPad current status is 3.2.2.

Leave a Comment

Please keep your comments friendly on the topic.

Contact us