Q: iPhone OS 3.1.1 persists in barring the user from being able to use the music library in conjunction with the alarm clock, inexplicably reversing functionality available on iPods for several years. Do you have any recommendations for third party solutions?
A: While we don’t have any specific recommended apps for this, there are a number of third-party apps on the App Store now that will allow you to select an iPod playlist as an alarm clock. This is a capability that became available in the iPhone OS 3.0 release, when it became possible for third-party apps to access the iPod library on your device.
As with any third-party iPhone app, the key limitation in the case of any of these apps is that they cannot run in the background. This means that you would need to leave the app running prior to going to sleep in order for the alarm to actually sound.
An alternative if you regularly use your iPod or iPhone in the same place (ie, your bedroom), is to look at an iPod alarm clock accessory that provides “Wake-to-Playlist” functionality. Most of the current iHome alarm clocks provide this ability, for instance.
With regards to the built-in Clock application still not being able to use a playlist as an alarm, the only thing we can suggest is that our readers who are concerned about this continue to provide product feedback to Apple requesting this feature at http://www.apple.com/feedback.