How I Would Fix iTunes, Part 13; The iOS Remote App

Remote app(This is one of a series of articles looking at elements of iTunes that I think need fixing. I’ll choose one element for each article, and offer a solution. See all articles in this series. If you have any particular gripes about what needs to be fixed in iTunes, drop me a line.)

Update: this has been fixed.

I work at home. In my office, I have an ergonomic Steelcase Leap chair at my desk, and a comfortable Stressless recliner at the opposite end of my office, about ten feet away. It faces my desk, so, when I sit in that chair and work on my laptop – as I often do – I can listen to music. I generally do this by controlling my iTunes library from my iPhone with the iOS Remote app. But this app is broken, and needs fixing.

First, the Remote app has not displayed album artwork since the release of iOS 8. Apple is aware of this bug (which only affects certain devices, curiously), but hasn’t gotten around to fixing it.

The other problem is the responsiveness of the Remote app. If, for example, the phone rings, and I need to pause the playback, I have to grab my iPhone, unlock it (this is pretty quick with Touch ID), tap the Remote app icon, and then wait.

Remote app connecting

Sometimes, this is quick. Other times, it takes ten seconds, twenty seconds, or even more. Sometimes it cannot find my Mac – which is just across the room, connected to the same router – and I have to force quit the app and reload my devices. It seems that the longer the time between the last time I accessed the app, the more delay there is in establishing a connection to iTunes.

Apple could fix this easily. My guess is that the connection only stays open for a certain length of time, and goes into standby mode after a while to save power on the iOS device. This is logical; if you only use the Remote app once to play or pause music, you don’t want a lot of power being drained. There is a Stay Connected option in the Remote app’s settings. I have it turned on, but it has no effect on the connection for me.

This app is a great way to control iTunes, but it’s not reliable enough. Apple could probably fix this easily, but the fact that album artwork still doesn’t display, some six months after the release of iOS 8, suggests that they’re simply ignoring this app.