watchOS 4.1 makes Apple Watch music playback a lot easier and fulfills a promise Apple made when it first showed off the operating system earlier this year. Now you can get at your complete Apple Music library from your watch whether you’re on Wi-Fi or LTE. Read on to learn how Apple Watch music playback works with this new update.
watchOS 4.1 lets you stream your entire Apple Music library, which is a big step up from the painfully slow process of downloading songs to your watch for local playback. Tap the Music app icon—it matches the Music app icon on your iPhone or iPad—to get at your library plus Apple’s customized playlists.
Your Apple Watch screen is pretty small so navigation cues are a little limited. You can scroll up and down to find what you want to play, then tap to start listening. If you tap Library you can choose from the same Playlists, Artists, Albums, and Songs groupings you see on your iPhone or iPad.
When you’re playing songs the Digital Crown acts as a volume dial; scroll up for louder and down for quieter.
Need to move to higher levels in the Music app interface? Just tap the red category name in the upper left corner. It tells you where you are, but also lets you move back one level.
You’ll also need Bluetooth earbuds, like Apple’s AirPods, paired with your Apple Watch to listen to music, too. If you don’t, your watch acts like a music playback remote for your iPhone.
Apple Music Radio
The Radio app brings Beats 1 and all of Apple’s streaming radio stations to your wrist. Everyone can listen to Beats 1, but you’ll need an Apple Music account to listen to everything else.
Start by launching the Radio app on your Apple Watch. It looks like a dot with waves radiating out from its sides. If you’ve been playing a station on another device, like your Apple TV, you’ll see that first. If not, you’ll see the stations list.
If you don’t see the list just tap Radio to jump out of the current station view. Once you find the station you want to play give it a tap and your music will stream through your paired Bluetooth earbuds.
Hey Siri, Play Some Music
Siri voice control works for music streaming on your Apple Watch, although I found it to be less than reliable. Asking Siri to play Blues Brothers, for example, got me some nice Aphex Twin. Asking for Aretha Franklin, however, jumped right into Think just as it should.
Still, when Siri gets it right, using your voice to control music streaming is a lot more convenient than tapping around the Apple Watch’s tiny screen.