While I think managing and playing tunes on your iPhone is not as good as doing so on the classic iPod, there are a few advantages with the iPhone and other iOS devices that you might not be aware of. The storage space on a typical iPhone is not large enough for say a 40+ GB iTunes library collection, so you definitely need to manage playlists on your iPhone.
However, creating and adding playlists on your iPhone and iPod touch is now easier with wireless syncing. You can now keep your mobile device freshly stocked with new songs and playlists without the hassle of plugging your device to your computer. In fact, even if you don’t have a computer, you can still download and manage music on your iPhone.
To get started with creating and managing playlists on your device, you first of course need to get music on your iPhone. To do so, you can either make a wired or wireless connection to the iTunes library on your computer, select your iPhone (or iPod touch) under Devices, and then select the Music category.
Select the Sync Music box, and if your entire music library is larger than the amount of space you have on your iPhone, you should select “Selected playlists, artists, albums, and genres.” With the latter option, you can go through and select which current playlists, albums, etc. you want to add to the Music library on your device.
The storage bar at the bottom of iTunes shows how much space you have left on your iPhone as you add selected content to it. Finally you click the Sync button to add the selected content to your device.
You can also download music directly to your iPhone via the default iTunes app or the Music app on your device.
Finally, to complete the initial setup, launch the Settings app on your iPhone, and tap on General > iTunes Wi-Fi Sync to enable automatic wireless syncing between your iPhone and the iTunes Library on your Mac or PC. The device will sync when you plug it into a power source and are connected to Wi-Fi. You can also manually force it to sync by tapping the Sync Now button.
Another way to set up playlists on your iPhone is to use iTunes Match. James explained how to do so in his definitive guide. You can also use Home Sharing which enables you to share the iTunes library on your iOS device.
Managing & Creating Playlists
With a sync connection set up, you can at anytime open your iTunes and select and deselect playlists to sync back to your iPhone. As you play songs on your iPhone and your computer, the play count and ratings you add will also sync between devices. See my article, How To Create 5 Smart iTunes Playlists For iPad, iPhone & iPod for more ideas about playlists.
Now that you have music on your device, you can also create new playlists without your computer connection. In the Music app on your iPhone, tap on Playlists. You’ll see your existing playlists from your computer. But to create another list from your existing content, tap on “Add Playlist…” and give the list a name.
Next you simply go down your Artists, Songs, Albums or Genres lists and select songs you want to add to your new playlist.
Another even faster way to create playlists on your device is to use the Genius Playlist feature. Genius Playlist works like a DJ, selecting a playlist of songs for you based on a song you choose.
The easiest way to set up a Genius Playlist is to tap on a song in an existing list, and then tap on the Genius Playlist icon under the title of that song. If the iTunes library on your device has enough similar songs to the one you selected, then it will make a playlist for you.
The Genius Playlist will use the title of the song you selected as the title of your playlist. Notice also you can Save, Refresh, and Edit a Genius Playlist. Refresh means that new songs will be added or replace other songs on the list. You can also remove individual songs from a Genius Playlist that you think don’t fit.
For other iTunes-related articles, check out these: