Appledystopia: Independent Technology News

Use Your iPhone to Wake Up to Your Favorite Song

published by Rachel Gold
December 1, 2022 at 1:35 p.m.
  • The first iPhone featured an alarm clock back in 2007.
  • By default, your iPhone will play the “radar” sound for an alarm, which some may consider a harsh start to the day.
  • You can easily set up the Alarm app to play a song instead of an alarm tone.
  • You must subscribe to Apple Music to enjoy a musical alarm tone.

Get a Better Start to Your Day by Waking up to Music

For many people, waking up is a difficult task. Most of us have to do it with the assistance of an alarm clock. We must go to work, school, or take care of other responsibilities. We usually have to wake up before we want to. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a better start to your day?

Many iPhone owners don’t realize that they can wake up to music instead of that harsh “radar” alarm tone. You can also change the alarm tone, but in this article, we’ll show you how to set up your iPhone’s alarm to play music.

Before we begin, there are some prerequisites. You need a somewhat recent iPhone capable of running iOS 8.4 or later. I tested this on an iPhone 14 Pro Max with iOS 16.1.1. To download music used by the stock Clock app, you’ll need a subscription to Apple Music.

Got all of that? Good! Let’s get started.

How to Set Up Your iPhone Alarm to Play Music

Before we begin, let’s briefly examine how this all works. Since your alarm clock needs a reliable music source, you’ll need to download a song onto your iPhone.

The audio file needs to be of the lowest quality. This seems to be a defect in Apple Music, the Clock app, or both. There’s no error message or notification that a high-res, lossless song won’t play, but that’s the reality.

If you listen to music in high-resolution lossless format, you’ll need to set Apple Music to download at the lowest audio quality, at least for this song.

I can understand the need for downloaded music. There’s too much uncertainty with streaming for it to serve as an alarm. What if there’s no Wi-Fi or cellular connection at 7 a.m.? For this reason, Apple requires downloaded music for its Clock app. The restriction against using downloaded Lossless tunes as alarm sounds seems to be a bug.

After downloading a song from Apple Music, we’ll open the Alarm app to set up an alarm with your favorite morning melody. When you wake up, you’ll enjoy one of your favorite songs instead of hearing a harsh tone.

Make sure the song will actually wake you up. I made the mistake of choosing ambient electronic music and ended up sleeping in. For this tutorial, we’ll use the song “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang. It’s a lively and cheerful way to start the day. Feel free to substitute any musical piece.

Here are step-by-step instructions for waking up to your favorite Apple Music song:

  1. Open Settings. The Settings app appears.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Music. The Apple Music settings screen appears.
  3. Tap on Audio Quality. The Audio Quality screen appears.
  4. Tap on Downloads. The Downloads screen appears.
  5. Select High Quality (AAC 256 kbps). A checkmark appears next to the High Quality setting.
  6. Close Settings and open Apple Music. The Apple Music home screen appears.
  7. Tap the top search field. The on-screen keyboard appears.
  8. Enter the name of a song you wish to set as your alarm. For this tutorial, we’ll use “Celebration”. Simply typing in the first four letters shows the song.
  9. Tap the three dots on the right side of the song. A menu appears.
  10. Tap on “Add to Library”. A message pops up showing Apple Music added it to your library.
  11. Tap the three dots on the right side of the song again. The same menu appears, with Download in place of Add to Library.
  12. Tap on Download. A circle will gradually fill in with red as your download completes. Wait until your download finishes before proceeding to the next step.
  13. Swipe down from the top right of your iPhone screen to reveal Control Center.
  14. Tap the Clock icon in Control Center to launch the Clock app. (You can also say “Hey Siri, launch the Clock app.”) The Clock app appears.
  15. Tap on the Alarm tab at the bottom. The Alarm screen appears.
  16. Tap on the “+” symbol on the top right. The Add Alarm screen appears.
  17. Slide the controls to set your preferred alarm time.
  18. Tap on Sound. The Sound screen appears.
  19. Tap on Pick a song. Your Music library appears.
  20. The song you downloaded should be at the top, displayed as an album cover. Tap on it. The album view appears with the song you just downloaded.
  21. Tap on the song. The Sound screen appears, and your track starts playing.
  22. Tap the Back button to exit the Sound screen. The Add Alarm screen appears.
  23. Tap Save. The Alarm screen appears with your alarm configured.
  24. Close the Clock app and open Settings. The Settings app appears.
  25. Scroll down and tap on Music. The Apple Music settings screen appears.
  26. Tap on Audio Quality. The Audio Quality screen appears.
  27. Select your desired audio quality setting.

That’s it. Now you can start your day the right way, with your favorite tune.

Test It Out

The first time I tried to set a music alarm, it didn’t work. In this case, your alarm will default to the radar sound effect. You’ll wake up, but it’s a double jarring start to the day. Not only did you hear the radar sound, but your iPhone didn’t do what it was supposed to do. I hate that.

Apple’s Clock app can’t play Lossless music. It is a long-standing defect because iOS doesn’t validate the file type. At some point, iOS should inform you that a Lossless download is inappropriate for an alarm. With no error messages, it took me a while to figure out the problem.

When I got into troubleshooting Apple Music and changing download quality, I experienced the app’s shabbiness. I had to try downloading other songs because when I deleted one track to re-download it at lower quality, Apple Music showed that it was still being downloaded. Deleting and downloading a song from one’s library needs to be reviewed by quality assurance. If we can’t use a high-res lossless track for an alarm, show an error message. That’s a bug.

I can’t use “Celebration” as my alarm song. Apple Music put this track in limbo. I think it’s still downloaded in high-res lossless, even though I deleted it and “replaced” it with a 256 kbps AAC version.

Apple Music is as buggy as can be, especially regarding downloading. So I had to choose another song. That sucks! I can never use that song for an alarm unless I reset my iPhone and reinstall apps. Who knows? Maybe that won’t fix it.

I’ll have to live with never using that song for an alarm. It seems like something you’d have to put up with from some no-name Android phone, but those work better than the iPhone. Oh well, look at that glorious Dynamic Island! (I would have preferred a round of extensive bug fixes, but Dynamic Island it is!)

I’ve used Apple Music since 2015, and its quality has always been suspect. It’s like Apple Music’s QA engineers all went out for a hike, completely derelict of duty. I can easily find at least three severe defects in Apple Music any time I use it. It used to be worse, but I have to wonder, why is it so difficult to make a music streaming app? Or is it just that Apple assigns mediocre engineers to the product because “it’s just a music app.”

I still use Apple Music because it’s inexpensive and offers high-quality audio. All of the music apps suck. I wish Apple would improve its quality. Sure, it’s more complicated than Twitter, but it’s a music app. For some reason, we don’t experience these issues with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or even Apple TV. It’s likely that high-level leadership views Apple Music as a simple app and assigns appropriate engineering talent. Reminders is an even worse case of this — so simple, yet so defective. Apple can do better. Let’s hope that they fix these bugs.


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