People are noticing a “new” feature in Apple iOS 7 that lets you listen to music as you doze off to sleep, safe in the knowledge that the music will turn off after a certain amount of time. Televisions have long had a similar feature called the Sleep Timer — set that, and your set will turn off after a given amount of time.
Falling asleep while looking at a glowing screen is bad for you, which is why taking in some music or an audiobook at bedtime might be your better option. Indeed, Apple iOS 7 can turn off your music after a certain amount of time. However, this is not a new feature — previous versions of iOS included it too.
You can still access this sleep-friendly feature pretty much the same way (instructions below) — however, we have one pretty major caveat: The iOS sleep timer doesn’t work with all music apps. With many of them, the volume dips slightly when the timer ended, as if the iPhone were thinking about stopping the music — but then the music keeps playing after that dip.
If you want this technique to work, use Apple’s own Music app or another app you’ve tested, so you know that it works. Otherwise, the music will play all night, making your sleep weird, eating battery life, and/or affecting your wireless data plan. A brief survey of popular music apps determined which ones work with the Apple iOS 7 timer’s sleep function:
- Apple Podcasts: Yes
- iHeartRadio: Yes
- Pandora: Yes
- Rdio: No
- Spotify: No
Our verdict: It appears that third-party developers can integrate with Apple’s sleep timer, but that not all of them have done so yet (or else, maybe there’s something about on-demand apps that makes this trick not work). Regardless, if you want to use this with a non-Apple app, we recommend setting a test timer for a minute first, to be sure it’s going to work.
With all of that out of the way, here’s how to set a sleep timer for music or other audio in iOS 7, so long as the app is compatible with the sleep timer:
1. Play the music
We recommend using Apple’s own music app, Pandora, iHeartRadio, or something else you’ve confirmed works with the iOS sleep timer by running a one minute test.
2. Set the timer
In iOS 7, the easiest way to access the timer is to swipe up from the bottom of any screen, so that you see something like this:
Now tap the timer icon to bring up this screen:
Tap “When Timer Ends” for access to these choices:
Tap the “Stop Playing” option at the bottom of the list. Now, whatever audio is playing will stop when the timer’s up. And just like that, you can go to sleep to music or a podcast without worrying about programming yourself subliminally with music, or otherwise disturbing your slumber.
(Top photo: Flickr/ericmcgregor)