How to play music on your smartwatch

For many people, music is an integral part of exercising. But not everyone wants to rummage around with their phone while out and about or working up a sweat. That’s where smartwatches can come in handy. While you can control music on your phone with almost any smartwatch, quite a few can play music on the device as well.

Whether it’s an Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, Garmin, Fitbit or Wear OS watch, you have many options for listening to music. A lot depends on what service is supported and what operating system your watch is running on. Some have options for offline playback, via downloadable playlists or onboard music storage. If your smartwatch has LTE, you may also be able to stream music directly to your wrist.

Keep in mind that you’ll probably need Bluetooth headphones, as not every smartwatch has a speaker. To download playlists for offline playback, you almost certainly need a subscription to the music service of your choice. That’s not to say you can’t listen to music for free. You can, but your phone-free options are much more limited.

Here’s a breakdown of the key players by platform and how to get started listening.

A new Apple Watch watch face

First, make sure you have an Apple Watch Series 3 or newer, with the latest possible version of watchOS. While you can listen to music on the Series 2, you can’t install the latest OS versions on it; Apple stopped supporting watchOS 7. The Series 2 is also five years old, so you probably won’t have a good experience. You can check if you are aware of watchOS by going to the Watch app on your iPhone, selecting General, then Software Update.

The easiest way to stream music on the Apple Watch is with, you guessed it, Apple Music. Not only is it pre-installed on the watch, but if you have an LTE watch with an Apple Music subscription, you can stream directly to the wrist. All you have to do is ask Siri to play an artist or song title. You can also browse your library directly from the Music app on the watch. If you don’t have an LTE watch, you have the option to download playlists for offline playback.

You can also jump to the Watch app on your phone, scroll to the Music app menu and load up your playlists and albums from there. This might be an easier option if you want to set things up on a bigger screen.

Plus, Apple has a ton of third-party apps in case you’ve already subscribed to another service. After years of customer complaints, Spotify has now added support for offline playlists and downloads on the Apple Watch. All you need to do is go to the App Store on the wrist of the watch, download the Spotify app and log in. Spotify also works with Siri as long as you add “on Spotify” to the end of your request.

While Apple Music and Spotify are the two most common music apps for the Apple Watch, there are plenty of other options. Pandora and Deezer also support offline playlists. There are also apps like TuneIn and iHeart Radio if you prefer radio. Cloudy, Spotify and Apple Podcasts are also good options if you prefer to listen to podcasts.

Keep in mind that not all third-party Apple Watch apps are created equal. While some work perfectly, others are not specifically optimized for a good viewing experience. Also, not every app supports offline playback, and apps that do often require a subscription.

Most of the pre-installed apps on the Galaxy Watch 4 come from Samsung.

If you have Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 or Watch 4 Classic, you can just scroll down to the Wear OS section below. The process is a little different if you’re still using a Tizen OS watch.

Spotify was one of the few partner apps available on Tizen watches, but it’s been a while since it’s been updated. (And it probably won’t be updated, as Samsung has gone all-in with Wear OS.) complained On forums about a degraded experience, so we don’t recommend using the app.

Many of Samsung’s older Tizen watches—for example, the Galaxy Watch 3, Galaxy Watch Active and Active 2, and the Galaxy Watch—have onboard storage so you can load music files directly onto them.

How Android users can add music through the Galaxy Wearable app:

  • Load the desired songs on your phone
  • Hit Watch settings and then Manage content or Add content to your watch
  • Crane add songs
  • Select the desired files or press All in the top left corner.
  • Once you hit Done you can play music on your watch through the Music app.

iOS users must have an iPhone 6 or later with at least iOS 12:

  • Load the desired songs on your phone
  • Open the Galaxy Watch App
  • Navigate to the Home bottom left tab
  • Select Add content to your watch

Samsung supports MP3, M4A, AAC, OGG and WMA files. However, you cannot export music from streaming services such as Spotify or Google Play, which use encrypted files.

The Fossil Gen 6 is a big watch, but looks good on my wrist

If you have a Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 or Watch 4 Classic, this is easy. These watches are the first (and for now only) watches with Wear OS 3. That means they have the Google Play Store right out of the box.

Right now, your top app picks are Spotify and YouTube Music, both of which support offline playback. (You must be a paying subscriber, though.) Android users can also follow the steps outlined in the previous section to physically load music onto the watch. However, the Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic do not support iOS.

Right now, non-Samsung Wear OS watches run Wear OS 2. It will stay that way until we get another batch of Wear OS watches or Google finally releases the update sometime later this year.

Wear OS 2 users didn’t really have good options for listening to music for a while after Google closed Google Play Music. That is no longer the case. The Spotify app now also supports streaming and offline playlists for Wear OS 2 watches. Google has finally brought YouTube Music to Wear OS 2 too. Keep in mind that you need a subscription and you can only have offline downloads – no streaming.

Start:

  • Navigate to the Google Play Store
  • To download Youtube music on your watch
  • To register to your YouTube Music account
  • Tap the song or playlist you want to download
  • Press the download icon

By far the easiest way to listen to music on a Fitbit smartwatch is to use Spotify, Deezer or Pandora.

The Spotify app is more of a music control app. It doesn’t support offline playback, so your phone must be nearby with the Fitbit app in the background and connected to the internet. You also need a Spotify Premium account.

Pandora and Deezer come preloaded on the Fitbit Ionic (which was recently recalled), Sense, and Versa series (excluding the Versa Lite). You must have a paid subscription to both services, as well as a Wi-Fi connection. Deezer users can download their playlists, while Pandora users can download their most played stations or popular curated Workout stations.

You can also use the Fitbit Connect app to transfer your own files to your device (the only exceptions are the Fitbit Sense, Versa Lite Edition, and Versa 3). The app is free to download here – just scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page.

Fair warning: This is an annoying process that Fitbit has outlined here under “How do I download playlists to my Fitbit watch?” section. Once you’ve expanded that section, scroll down to the Mac or Windows drop-down menus for step-by-step instructions.

The Garmin Fenix ​​7S on top of a book and next to coffee.

Garmin currently supports four major music streaming services: Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer and iHeartRadio. You can download all apps via the Connect IQ store. (Again, you’ll need a subscription.) But once you’ve downloaded the app in question, navigate to your watch’s music/media widget. From there, you can select the service of your choice and you will be prompted to sign in to your account. Once that’s done, you can start syncing your music and playlists.

Most Garmin watches come with music storage; you can see the list here† But as with Fitbits, loading your personal libraries onto the watch can be a tedious process. You need the . to download Garmin Express app on your computer and from there follow the detailed step-by-step instructions for both Mac and Windows users on how to manage your music and audio files.

Correction, March 9, 2022, 9:30 a.m. ET: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Spotify offline playlists were not available for Wear OS 2. We regret the error.

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