iPhone Music Control: Using The Headphones Remote Button

Play music on the iPhone without touching the screen

A lot of earphones and headphones these days come with a remote button and microphone for taking calls on your iPhone. This feature is usually built into the cable for easy access when you need to quickly interrupt your music listening for more important matters.

The Apple EarPods that come with the iPhone, for example, have this facility (along with volume controls too), but did you know that this button can also be used to control digital music playback?

And, it's not limited to just Apple EarPods either. Any ear gear that has an in-line remote feature should work.

But, what can you do with this single button?

Quite a lot actually. Depending on the number of button presses and hold combinations you perform, you can tell your iPhone to:

  • Play / pause songs.
  • Skip to the next/previous track.
  • Fast search through songs (forwards and backward).

and even launch Siri.

Using Siri to Launch The Music App

If you've got Siri enabled on your iPhone, you might already use it to control iTunes Radio. However, it can also be used to launch the Music app so you don't even have to touch the screen at all. You can launch it with just the press of a button and a single voice command. If your earphones have a built-in microphone, all you need to do is the following:

  1. Hold down the button on your remote and wait for Siri to pop up.
  2. When Siri is running and waiting for a voice command, simply say 'Music' to launch the app. Just make sure the microphone is close enough to your mouth or Siri might have trouble hearing you.

    Remote Button Commands For Playing Back iTunes Songs

    Once you are in the Music app you can start using the remote for controlling the playback of songs you've synced to your iPhone.

    1. To start playing a song, press the button once on your remote.
    2. If you want to pause a song that is playing, press the button again to freeze its playback position.
    1. Sometimes you'll want to skip to the next song. This can be achieved with the remote by clicking the button twice. Be sure to do this quickly enough so your iPhone doesn't think you just want to play or pause a track.
    2. It's also possible to skip back through songs too. To do this, press the button three times. But, remember to be reasonably quick when you do this or you may end up going forwards instead.
    3. You can also fast forward through a track with the remote button if you need to. This command uses one button press followed by one long press. The trick here is to basically double-click, but make sure on the second press you hold the button down until you start to hear the music fast forwarding.
    4. Fast rewinding through a song can also be done. Simply click the remote button twice and then press it a third time but hold it down until you hear the search function kick in.