Friday, December 25, 2020

YouTube Music Playlist Shortcut

Google giveth and Google taketh away

Play Music, originally Google Music, was mature and pretty good. There was really no reason for Google to create YouTube Music and shut down Play Music, forcing a painful transition on users, other than its own organizational convenience (but I digress). 

Part of the pain for users is that (as of this writing at least) YouTube Music doesn't work as well as Play Music, particularly for those using it for cloud storage of uploaded music more than for paid streaming. One of the more annoying issues is that some (not all) video playlists get mixed in with audio playlists, making it harder to navigate audio playlists.

The YouTube Music app for Android, which suffers from annoying pauses even with strong mobile signal, makes things worse by having no way to create Home screen icons for specific playlists, either by widget or by shortcut. (The Play Music app had a widget for a specific playlist.) Fortunately, there is a way to work around this limitation, but it's not obvious. On Android:
  1. Install the Website Shortcut app.
  2. Open YouTube Music in Chrome browser (not the app), and navigate to a desired playlist.
  3. Scroll up to 3 dot overflow menu at right end of Chrome navigation bar to Share that page to Website Shortcut:
    1. Add the Playlist name in the Label field.
    2. Select a custom icon (e.g., artist photo) if desired (otherwise it will be the YouTube Music icon).
    3. Create Shortcut, and install the icon on a Home screen.
Now that Home screen icon can be used to launch the specific playlist (in the app if it's installed rather than in Chrome).
  • A good way to organize these playlist icons is to create a Playlist folder on the Home screen.
  • Another way is to add a Home screen just for music playlist icons.
  • This same technique works for artist, album, contributed playlist, search, anything that can be shared.
The reason for using Website Shortcut is that Add to home screen in Chrome just creates an icon that launches the app, not the desired playlist.

Enjoy!

Monday, December 14, 2020

Message Not Delivered

Message Not Delivered error with alias in Gmail 'send mail as' feature

In Gmail,

  • if you use the 'send mail as' feature to send mail from a different address (account),
  • and you have recommended two-factor authentication (aka 2-Step Verification) enabled,
then you may eventually get this Message not delivered error:

Unfortunately, the error message is written in confusing technical jargon that makes it hard for ordinary people to figure out (a) what's causing the problem and (b) how to correct it.

The clue is the "out of date" phrase. To use 'send mail as' when two-factor authentication is enabled, you have to create and use an app password in order to setup mail sending. What Google doesn't tell you is that there's an expiration on that setup, after which it will no longer work, resulting in the above error message.

It would be much better if Google alerted you to the expiration with instructions on how to renew it, but alas, you have to figure it all out for yourself. Here's how to fix the problem when it occurs:
  1. In Settings > Accounts and Import, find that 'Send email as' address and Delete it.
  2. Then use 'Add another email address' to add that same email address back.
    1. Leave 'Treat as an alias' checked, and click Next Step.
    2. Username is your Gmail address (since you are using a Google SMTP server).
    3. Password can be the same app password as before, or a new app password.
    4. Then Add Account, and follow instructions to Verify it.
Voila!

References:

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Chrome Sharing Hub

Chrome Sharing Hub

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Update 3/10/2021: Chrome 89 expired the chrome-sharing-hub flag. To get it back (probably just temporarily), open chrome://flags/ and enable Temporarily unexpire M88 flags.

Sharing on Android

Share functionality on Android has been something of a mess, in that picking a Share target has been clumsy and painful. With Android 10, Google made significant improvements, although it's buggy in that the wrong target app is sometimes launched if you select too quickly (a problem that persists in Android 11).*

Meanwhile, possibly due to that clumsiness, the Chrome team has been working on its own Share solution, called Sharing Hub, and has now rolled it out widely.

What's Wrong with Sharing Hub?

The Sharing Hub provides an array of sharing targets at the bottom of the screen, which sounds like a good idea, except there are a number of problems:

  • The array of targets cannot be customized (as of this writing at least). That's only fine if you just want the sharing target choices made by Google.
  • If you want some other sharing target, you have to first scroll to the right, then select the More overflow menu to open the standard Android Share menu.
  • Opening the standard Android Share menu thus takes two extra selections, which is clumsy and painful, especially if you do it frequently.
  • Opening the standard Android Share menu also takes more time that slows things down, making it doubly clumsy and painful.

How To Disable Sharing Hub

Fortunately, Chrome Sharing Hub can be disabled, leaving just the standard Android Share menu:
  1. In Chrome, open
    chrome://flags/#chrome-sharing-hub
  2. Change the option to
    Disabled

* Work-around for the wrong target app bug is to scroll the standard Android Share menu up before making a selection.