Yet another music player fail

went for a 2:44 walk yesterday. the phone was providing tunes. got home and synced the phone. it had tagged 45min of tunes as played. the rest apparently hadn’t happened. the phone is a 12m running ios14.2.1.

noticed this issue a few days ago when the phone played a track it’d played the day before. my playlist has the rule “last played - not in the last 3 months” which is supposed to prevent the annoyance of the same tracks playing over and over. it doesn’t work if the music player fails to tag the tunes as played when it plays them.

note that this is almost the same issue i complained about a while ago in watchos. difference is the watch tags either one track or none whereas the phone tagged a random number of tracks, but less than half the tracks that were played.

apparently nobody does quality control at apple. it’s really disappointing not to mention annoying that broken code like this is constantly being shipped by this multi-trillion dollar corpse.

btw: the watchos issue, broken in watchos5, is still broken in watchos7.

Don’t know the reason why, but here’s a guess. Do you let the tracks play all the way to the end, or do you skip to the next track before one ends (e.g. during fade-outs, crowd noise or silence)?

Apple doesn’t record a track as having been played (incrementing the “Plays” count and the “Last Played” timestamp until the last instant of its audio is played. If you skip the track, even if it’s just the last second you’re skipping, then it instead increments the “Skips” count and records the “Last Skipped” timestamp.

If you’re doing this, then consider changing your playlist to something like:

  • Match music for all of the following rules:
    • Last Played not in the last 3 months
    • Last Skipped not in the last 3 months

This will also have the side effect of removing any tracks that you quickly skipped because you don’t want to hear it during your walk.

all tracks were played to the end. when i skip a track, i don’t expect the player to record it.

No solution here, but this has been a long-standing bug for years. Obviously I have less than zero pull at Apple, as I’ve reported this bug at a minimum of 10 times over the years. Irritating if one relies on smart playlists that update based on “not played in the last x days"

interesting: i’ve not had this problem until ios14.2. at least hadn’t noticed anything beyond the occasional track getting dropped from tagging now and then. small random failures are okay. major failures as reported above are just sloppy.

Replying to say that this has been going on for years for me, too, with occasional times when last played and skip data syncs up well and others when it just stops. I’m paying less attention to this lately since I switched to Sonos for music playing in the house a couple of years ago and abandoned the playlists that are based on last played and last skipped.

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if i were conspiracy minded, i’d say that apple is deliberately breaking my local music repository to force me to use their streaming service. but i’m not, so we’ll just chalk this up to their blithering incompetence.


It doesn’t take conspiracy theory to realize that their emphasis and energy is almost all going toward their streaming service that produces ongoing revenue.

But it’s not like you can do what you want on a streaming service anyway. At least not that I can figure out.

Does anybody else know how you can listen to music “not played in x days” on one of the streaming services?

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updated the phone to 14.3. thought they’d fixed this issue. yesterday’s stumble seemed to have been marked correctly but today’s at least two tracks that i’d directly checked whilst strolling along were not tagged as played.


time to use my neglected developer’s account to file a ticket.

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been running 14.4 for a while and the broken issue remains broken. finally installed a beta profile to get their ridiculous reporting tool. sent a couple reports detailing the issue. then they tried to force me to install 14.5 beta. d’oh! not going there. deleted the beta profile.

but here’s an interesting wrinkle: mucking around with the music player before a sync, i found that its history listed all the tracks that had been played in the last session. after the sync “completed”, missing about 20% of the played tracks, checked the history list again. only the tracks that had been missed were still listed, because they’re still on the device.

makes this bug even more insidious. how can sync miss tracks the device has marked as played?

here’s an even more interesting wrinkle: updated to 14.4.1 and it appears sync is working correctly again. still trying to confirm this is the case but i’m hopeful that whatever regression introduced this bug was once again squashed.

as always, your mileage may vary.

and album cover art is still randomly incorrect … so the world has yet to reach perfection.