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Tip: Preventing the iOS 5 Music App from Crashing on iPhone 3GS

 Image courtesy of iPhoneheadlines.com

If you’re an iPhone 3GS owner running iOS 5, you may have encountered the same problem that my wife and I have: you’re walking, running, or generally enjoying life while listening to your favorite song in your 3GS’s playlist when, at the completion of a song, there’s silence. It’s as if you inadvertently hit “Pause.”

Naturally, you do what we do, and double-click your home button to bring the music controls to the locked iPhone screen and tap the “Play/Pause.” Nothing. Okay, you think, let’s “Forward” to the next song, and you tap the right-facing double arrows. Still nothing. “Rewind”?? Zilch. So then you wonder what they heck is going on!

After surveying the iSource team, scouring the web, and even posting a request for help at Apple’s Discussion Board,  I think I have a pretty good idea how to work around this lockout that crashes the new iOS 5 Music app.

You may be thinking,  Jeez, if he says force quit and start it up again, I’ve already tried that! you’d be right to be irritated because we did the same thing. Unfortunately, that’s not a sure fix – sometimes a force quit (tap and hold an app icon until it wiggles, and then tapping the icon’s red “x” to force it to stop functioning) will intermittently solve the problem. But in both mine and my wife’s experience, the more frequently we used a force-quit, the less likely relaunching the Music app would work!

Instead, the issue seems to be in how iOS 5 handles the cover album images (as in Cover Flow view – turning the iPhone landscape to see the pictures of albums). My poking around the web revealed that the absence of an image for a song’s album scrambles the way the Music app plays the song. This results in the wrong album cover image displayed on a song that’s playing, or the Music app seizing and crashing.

Until Apple releases a fix in a future iOS 5 update, the tip is a workaround: create a playlist of only songs that have album cover art. This should at least prevent the iPhone from freezing while playing your songs. It has worked in our household and my wife can now resume her exercise routine while listening to some of her music. Is this perfect? No. But neither is running a 5K without music.

What about you? Let us know what methods have worked for you!

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  • Weebsurfer

    Ive seen similar but not as severe issues on my 4. Anyone else???

    • Jay

      Although I also have a 4S and have not had any of the same issue, there have been some who allegedly have experienced the crashing issue on a 4S (see the discussion here).

  • eric

    ive been having problems that im playing a song and the screen goes blank and i hav to restart the phone and this usually takes a few minutes. its happened several times.

    • Jay

      Yes, I think that’s part of the same error manifesting itself in a more severe crash.

  • This just happened to me and that is the reason I’m here. It. is. severe. I’m using iPod touch 4g with iOS 5 and I think you’ve figured it out correctly. My music stopped playing while I was using the home sharing feature and went out of my WIFI area. Now the music app won’t change tabs and I can’t goto ‘More’ to get to my shared playlists.

    • Jay

      The Apple Discussion site seemed to focus more on the iPod Touch than the 3GS – lots of complaints about the Music app crashing the device!

      The Shared Playlists won’t function on Home Sharing correctly if you drop wifi: you’ve lost your connection to the shared station. Sounds like a hard reboot (holding Home and Lock button together until the Apple symbol reappears at the center of the screen and then letting go of both buttons) would help. That, and staying in range of your wifi signal.

  • Debbie

    My iPhone 3Gs just did this but while I was surfing iTunes. I can’t seem to get it going again. Trying the hard reboot for a 4th time now. WTF???

  • Jen

    The coverflow art does not seem to affect crashing of the music app on my 4S. I have had it crash on a song with album art several times. I think this is a case of a coincidence looking like a solution, but if it worked for you, terrific. I’m waiting for the OS patch that will fix it for real.

    • Jay

      That’s why I titled the article for the 3GS – it hasn’t affected my 4S either.

  • MarkH

    My 3GS has this problem. My work around is to manually activate shuffle. It also works to just manually activate a different song.

    • Jay

      That worked temporarily for me at first. For some reason, that workaround eventually quit working for me.

  • Shuki

    This happens on songs that have album cover art too 🙁
    apple is becoming messy
    is it because they are so successful?

    • Jay

      On a 3GS or iPhone 4? I’ve noticed on the 3GS that sometimes the album art that is displayed is incorrect – showing art for a song that’s either before or after the one playing.

      I know that Apple was testing iOS 5 for months, though I don’t know if anyone reported this issue to them. Now that 5.0.1 is out (released yesterday), I am hoping that it repairs this issue. Since it wasn’t listed on their list of issues addressed, however, I’m not holding my breath.

      • Shuki

        hmmm….. all my songs have artwork and it still happens on my 3gs
        so I wanted to remove the art work from itunes and re paste.
        itunes now doesnt let me clear or do anything with my artwork….

  • MarkH

    No joy on 5.0.1. Still happening.

    • Jay

      Yeah, I noticed it wasn’t on the list of bug fixes so I was afraid it wouldn’t.

  • Dan

    My 3GS crashes in the middle of a song. The only way to stop it is to restart the phone. It started only after i upgraded to 5.0.1. I never had the problem in 5. Guess I’ll try to downgrade.

  • Jeff

    I have an iphone 4 running ios 5.0.1 and I cannot even access my music. The music app brings up a white screen for about 5 second and then crashes. Sometimes I can get music to play by going to the lock screen and hitting play, but I can’t access my playlists or anything. Please fix this Apple!! The whole point of the iphone is supposed to be an ipod phone.

  • MarkH

    I noticed that all the artwork that was missing from my 3GS was actually attached to the files in iTunes. In fact it all showed up in iTunes on the files stored on the phone, just didn’t show on the music app. Tried deleting and adding artwork with sync in between but that didn’t work. Finally tried deleting the albums from the phone, syncing, then adding them back to the phone and syncing again. Now all the artwork is there in the app. Will have to wait and see if this works around the problem.

    • MarkH

      No joy.

      • Jay

        My wife’s 3GS stopped on a song that seemed to have artwork, which would have set this tip to one side. However it turned out that the artwork wasn’t an authentic album image. Guessing that has something to do with it too.

  • My music had all of the album artwork but still had a similar issue so I figured it had to be related.

    I turned off the “Lyrics & Podcast Info” in Settings -> Music and it still seems glitchy but manages to play through a song that was previously crashing it consistently. I’m guessing the app is trying to access/get more info about the album and it’s not able to.

    The BEST workaround I’ve found though is to use Pandora and Spotify.

    • Mina

      Apple need to fix this asap!
      using pandora or spotify is not a work around!? thats an alternative.

  • danny

    same problem with iphone 4s music sometimes plays with different album art or doesnt play atall with the same album art. pretty frustrating rang my technical support and they said both from the phone shop i got the iphone from and iphone customer support and it was as if they didnt know what was wrong with it. I KNOW WHATS WRONG WITH IT YOURE IPHONE 5.0.1 UPDATE IS SHITE!!!!

  • connor

    My music app sometimes crashes on my 4s. In the middle of a song it will stop, and the phone will respring (screen goes black and loading circle appears in the middle of the screen). Its not a big issue, its only happeneed to me twice in the two weeks ive had my phone, but i would like to find out the cause of the problem