Is there a simple way to listen to iTunes U audio in the background? Switching to another app turns the audio off except in this very specific case:

  1. Press the power button to lock the screen. This will immediately turn the audio off.
  2. Double-click the home button to show the audio controls.
  3. Press play. The lecture will begin playing.
  4. Receive a notification (e.g. a text message) while the screen is locked.
  5. Open the notification item from the lock screen. The audio will continue playing while you're in this other app.

Unlocking the phone any other way brings you back to the iTunes U app, which only gets us back where we started.

Is there a simpler way to do this?


I understand your frustration, thankfully, it can be done.

Many video apps, like the YouTube app or the iTunes U App allow you to play the content in the background like music, it just takes a certain trick. The way you do it is two ways, depending on if you want to sleep your iPhone or use other apps while you listen:

Exit the App and then double click the home button, and then swipe to the right to reveal the iPod controls, you should see the youtube or iTunes U app in the place of the iPod Music Icon. Hitting play should continue playing the contents audio in the background while you do other things. Opening another music or sound related app may mute or stop the playing but opening up Safari or checking your mail, text messages, etc should not stop anything.

To have it play in the background with your iPhone in standby mode, i.e., like listening to your music while your iPhone is sleeping. Simply lock your iPhone, the sound will stop. Double click the home button and the iPod controls will show up, press the play button and the audio portion of your iTunes U or Youtube app content should keep playing.

I hope that this information helps you out.

  • Perfect. I didn't realize that the iPod controls could be replaced by other apps. Exactly what I was missing. – Wayne Jul 8 '12 at 0:09

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