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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Wish List: Handoff for iTunes and Music

Music and iTunes

iOS 8 and Yosemite’s Handoff feature is pretty cool: Start writing an email on your iPhone, for example, and you can seamlessly pick it up on your Mac. But of all the activities that support this feature, there’s one pretty glaring exception.

Music.

Music, as Apple is so fond of telling us, is part of the company’s DNA. But despite its development of iTunes Radio and recent acquisition of Beats Music, the basic ways in which we listen to music haven’t really changed since the earliest days of the iOS—or even the iPod.

Remember that very first iPod ad? Sure, it looks inexpert and dated compared to today’s carefully-crafted, almost formulaic Apple tone: the shaky camera, the cheesy dancing, the glimpses of the Aqua interface on OS X. But the “plot” of the commercial is still an everyday occurrence for many: you’re listening to a song on your Mac when you have to leave the house. And, if you’re anything like me, there are few things more annoying than stopping a song mid-play. Great, now I have a guaranteed earworm for the rest of the day.

Of course, you could queue up the same song on your iPhone, fast forward to the same place in the track, pause it on your Mac, then press play on your iOS device. Just the kind of delightfully smooth experience we’ve come to expect from Apple, right?

For a while it seemed like a third-party app called Seamless (not to be confused with the food-delivery service) had solved this problem, using a iOS app paired with a Mac helper app. But it seems to be gone from the App Store, so it’s back to the manually-adjusting-playback-position gig.

But why not Handoff? Like any of the other apps it supports, Handoff should just pop up a Music app icon in your iOS device’s lock screen or the iTunes icon in your Mac’s Dock; slide or click on that, and your audio should just keep playing where you left off. (The Podcasts app could take advantage of the same feature, though it’s at least supposed to sync playback position between devices automatically via iCloud.)

Granted, it wouldn’t work in every case—for those who sync only a portion of their music to their iOS devices, for example, or cases where you stream music but don’t have an Internet connection—but it seems like it could bring a nice, Apple-like touch to the music-listening experience for many users.

Maybe Apple’s got something up their sleeves in the music department; rumors, after all, have Beats Music becoming part of Apple’s default iOS apps. I’m hopeful that such a venture might also include supporting Handoff for Music and iTunes, so that we may all continue our jams uninterrupted, no matter where we go.

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[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at dan@sixcolors.com or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]