UPDATE: OCTOBER 15, 2011: Please read through the comments on this entry. Some people have been reporting that this technique did not work for them. Others are reporting that it works with some registry cleaners and not others. I recommend uninstalling iTunes and cleaning your registry with CCleaner; follow the link below to download it if you don’t have it.
Another thing to consider: the handshaking of your iOS device and iTunes might have broken down for other reasons. For a simple solution, try restarting iTunes first to correct this some of the time. Try restarting your phone or iPad if that doesn’t work. If neither works, plow onward.
I eagerly awaited the arrival of iOS 5. I’ve wanted wireless sync for ages and it was finally possible.
Then I discovered lots of shit that it broke.
Then I literally couldn’t get Wi-Fi sync to work at all.
Finally after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I offer solutions to two of the most annoying bugs I’ve found in iOS 5.
#1: “Sync will resume when (computer) is available”
This is the most annoying bug I’ve seen in ages. Wi-Fi sync is dangled in front of us and snatched cruelly away. It took me 30 hours to solve this one and you are welcome.
First, the usual crap that Apple will tell you to do:
Connect your iOS device to your computer.
Select it in iTunes
Make sure the “Sync this iPhone over Wi-Fi” box is checked.
Sync the device manually.
Unplug the phone when complete.
In theory, the device should stay visible in iTunes, and let you sync over WiFi. Quite often that’s not the case, and I will explain why shortly. But before we go to my nuclear option, make sure it’s not a firewall problem. Easiest way of doing this is checking to see if the device has access to your shared libraries from iTunes. If you get the “shared” option in the Music and Video apps, then it’s not your firewall.
Now, for the nuclear option. As I hinted at back in my article about how to manually uninstall Quicktime, Apple does some nasty shit in their installers. They first try to uninstall everything instead of copying over it. The problem is they leave a lot of cruft in the registry that can screw up future installs. This is what broke Wi-Fi sharing for me, and I’m willing to bet is breaking it for a lot of others. To do Wi-Fi sync, Apple needed to rewrite the code it uses for networking (the Bonjour protocol) but some “upgrades” to iTunes 10.5 will not replace the Bonjour code completely and properly.
To perform this step you will need a registry cleaner and optionally an uninstaller. I use CCleaner for both and recommend it highly. The steps you need to take are as follows:
Download an iTunes installer directly from Apple. Do not try using Apple’s software update; that way lies madness.
Completely and totally uninstall iTunes. Do this from the Control Panel’s “Programs and Features” or through an uninstaller like CCleaner. I did the latter.
Run the registry cleaner to get rid of the references to the old copy of iTunes completely. This should be automatic if you choose to “fix issues” (or similar language) from your registry.
Reboot the computer, just to be safe.
Install iTunes fresh from the program you just downloaded. This should make for a nice fresh install.
As soon as I finished installing the new copy of iTunes and clicked to run it, it found my iPhone and started synching it over WiFi.
And clearing up a common misconception: despite what is being implicated, your iOS device does not need to be plugged into your computer or a charger to sync. It needs to be connected to your computer before the first Wi-Fi sync so it knows which computer it will be talking to, and will know to sync over Wi-Fi. And if you plug it into a charger, it will automatically sync as soon as it has power (just as it would automatically sync as soon as you connected it to your computer). But you don’t have to have it charging before synching manually.
#2: Smart Playlists get scrambled
This is actually an old bug that keeps coming up every year or so at random, whenever Apple makes major changes. I don’t know why they don’t test this immediately before a release, and make a permanent note of what fixed it last time. Essentially, if you have a smart playlist that you reorganize in iTunes, your device won’t get your updated play order; it will re-sort the playlist the way it thinks it should be.
There’s an interesting workaround that TechGeekBlogger discovered: a smart playlist on an iOS device will sort things the way it wants but a smart list composed of other smart playlists will work fine. I noticed this when I checked to see that my “smart shuffle” playlist (which accesses playlists for different star ratings with rules for each one) would let me re-sort it but my podcast playlist wouldn’t.
Essentially here’s a workaround Create a new smart playlist with the following rules (and only the following rules):
Playlist is (your old playlist)
Limit to (however many) items (ordered as you like)
Then sync the new playlist to your iOS device. This new one should be able to be re-sorted in iTunes and have its new order updated on the device as well.
Hope this prevents some of you from pulling your hair out like I’ve been doing.