Listening to music from your Apple Watch is a convenient option whether or not your iPhone is handy. But how you listen to your favorite songs on your watch depends on your model and OS version. Any Apple Watch running watchOS 4.1 or higher will let you listen to albums and playlists created on your iPhone. You can also listen to music-streaming apps like Pandora, Spotify, and iHeartRadio, as well as Apple Music (if you’re a subscriber).
If you own an Apple Watch Series 3 or newer, you can do all the above but also link to Apple Radio and any music you’ve synced through iCloud. You can also stream music directly from the cloud. Let’s look at the different ways to listen to music on your Apple Watch.
First, make sure your watch is running the latest OS. Open the Watch app on your iPhone or the Settings app on your watch. Go to General > Software Update. The app will tell you that your software is up to date or it will prompt you to download and install the latest update.
Pair Your Watch
Next, you’ll need to pair your watch with Bluetooth earphones or a speaker. To do this, make sure your Bluetooth device is on and in pairing mode. On your Apple Watch, go to Settings > Bluetooth. Your Bluetooth device should be listed and go into pairing mode. Tap the name of the device. The status should then indicate that it’s connected.
With any Apple Watch, you can sync your albums and playlists with your watch. If you don’t have any playlists, you can easily create them on your phone if you wish. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Bluetooth and make sure Bluetooth is turned on.
Open the Watch app on your iPhone, open the My Watch section, then tap on Music. You can then enable Recent Music to automatically add music you’ve listened to recently. Next, tap Add Music and locate any albums or playlists you wish to add. Choose one and tap the plus (+) icon at the top, then connect your watch to a charger and allow the music to sync.
Listen on Your Watch
Segue to your watch and press the Digital Crown to jump to the home screen. Open the Music app and flip through thumbnails of albums and playlists. Tap the Library entry and browse through all the playlists, artists, albums, or songs that you added to your watch.
Tap an entry you wish to hear. You can play and pause the music, jump to the next track, or go back to the previous track. Adjust the volume by turning the Digital Crown.
You can also listen to music from your iPhone through your Apple Watch. In the Music app on your watch, swipe to the top until you see the screen that lists On iPhone, Now Playing, Radio, and Library. Tap On iPhone, then you can swipe through all the albums and songs playable through your iPhone.
Listen to Apple Radio
With an Apple Watch Series 3 or newer and watchOS 4.1 or higher, you can listen to stations from Apple Radio. From the home screen, tap the Apple Music icon. Swipe through thumbnails for the different stations or tap the Apple Music 1 radio station to hear the current live broadcast.
To play custom radio stations on Apple Radio, you’ll need to enlist the aid of Siri. Play one on your watch by saying “Hey Siri play my [station name] radio station.” Your watch then starts playing the station. Apple Music subscribers can take advantage of an entry called Stations, which will let you listen to different stations by genre.
Listen With Siri
In addition, Apple now offers a special voice plan priced at $4.99 a month, accessible with iOS 15.2 or higher on your iPhone. With this plan, you must use Siri to request songs and albums in Apple’s vast universe. Think of a favorite song, not one already contained in your own library.
Say “Hey Siri, play [name of song]” or “Hey Siri, play the album [name of album] by [name of artist]” or “Hey Siri, play [name of artist] music” or “Hey Siri, play [genre name].” As long as that song is in Apple Music, Siri should accommodate your request.
The music player appears on your watch so you can pause, play, and control the volume of the song. You can stop playback by saying “Hey Siri, stop music.”
With an Apple Music subscription, you can opt to sync your music to iCloud and play it on an Apple Watch Series 3 or newer without having to sync them individually. To set this up, open Settings > Music on your phone and turn on iCloud Music Library. You’re asked if you want to keep your music or delete and replace it. Your best bet is to choose Keep Music.
Alternatively, you can do this from iTunes. On a Windows PC, open iTunes and move to Preferences. In the General tab, check the iCloud Music Library option. Open the Music app on your watch and tap one of the categories to see all your synced music.
Listen to Spotify
Download the Spotify app and open it on your watch. With a free Spotify account, you’ll see a list of recently played music. Tap the playlist or station you want to hear. At the player screen, you can then pause, jump to the next track, or go back to the previous track. You can also pipe the sound through a specific Bluetooth device. With a paid Spotify Premium account, you can play any song you want in any order, listen offline, and avoid the ads. To bounce between the music list and the player screen, just swipe left or right.
Listen to Pandora
To use the Pandora app on your Apple Watch, you’ll need a Watch Series 3 or newer with watchOS 6 or higher and an iPhone with iOS 13 or higher. Download the Pandora app through your iPhone or directly on your watch.
Listen to Pandora from your iPhone with your watch as the remote control, or listen to it from your watch. At the main screen, tap Playing from and select Watch. Tap Stations and select a station to start listening.
If you’re a paid subscriber to Pandora Plus, Pandora Premium, or Pandora Premium Family, you can download music to your phone for offline listening. In the Watch app, tap the Download entry to access your downloaded music.
Download the iHeartRadio app to your phone or directly to your watch. Open the app on your watch and tap Recently Played to hear music you recently accessed. Tap on Your Library to see your stations, podcasts, and playlists. Select the song you wish to hear.
Other Third-Party Apps
Other audio apps you can install and listen to on your watch include TuneIn Radio, Radio FM, and Music TV. However, there is a downside with certain third-party apps. Some apps were designed primarily for the iPhone and have limited or no compatibility with the Apple Watch and Bluetooth speakers or headphones.
Your only option in that case is to play the music through your iPhone (or connect your iPhone to a Bluetooth speaker as a pass-through to your watch). So you still need your iPhone handy to listen to music offered by such apps.
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