Last.fm, iScrobbler, and iPhone

It’s been just over a day since I brought home my iPhone 3G, and I am absolutely in love. But there is one thing that’s annoyed me about the device so far, and that’s the way that it interacts with Last.fm and iScrobbler. To put it simply, iPhone doesn’t play nicely with iScrobbler, at least not without some encouragement.

I am a Last.fm addict, and I go crazy whenever I realize that something I listen to hasn’t been tracked by the service. I actually find myself saying ‘Darn it’ when I’m in the car, listening to the radio, realizing that nobody will ever know that I just listened to the latest cut by Miley Cyrus. Seriously. I actually swore off of Pandora for a while because there was no way to make Last.fm track the songs I was hearing through it (then I found PandoraFM, and all was well). And one of the first things I did, once we bought our Apple TV at Christmastime, was to figure out how to make sure songs played on that device were tracked (Sync Apple TV with Mac, play one song on iPod, then sync iPod).

Yes, I have a problem.

Anyway, I was more than a little disappointed this morning when I synced my iPhone and all of the songs I played yesterday weren’t immediately tracked. I found a solution via the iScrobbler discussion boards, and that made me happy for a little while. Then I realized that the problem still wasn’t entirely solved. Only the songs I listened to late in the day had been tracked. The songs I’d listened to in the morning had been lost. Ugh.

I searched some more and discovered that I wasn’t the only one having the issue. In order to feed information on songs played on iPhone and iPod to Last.fm, iScrobbler uses the “Recently Played” playlist in iTunes. It turns out that, if you plug the iPhone into any power source before syncing it back to your computer, it loses all its playcount information. This bug happens whether you’re plugging it into a car charger, which is what the person on Apple’s discussion boards did, or an AC outlet, which is what I did. Avoid doing either of those things, and you’re all set.

I’m sure that this won’t even be an issue, once Apple allows developers to build apps for iPhone that can ping servers in the background (a feature enhancement scheduled for the fall, if I remember correctly). For now, it’s the sort of thing that you just need to bear with. And the great thing about having the Internet at your disposal is that, if you search for the right things, and if you’re diligent in your searching, you can almost always find a solution, however temporary, however jerry-rigged, to whatever problem is troubling you.