How to keep 2GB of most recently added music synced to your Apple Watch with iTunes Smart ...

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited April 11
Syncing music to your Apple Watch can be a convoluted, laborious process. But if you want to ensure that the latest additions to your library are automatically available on your watch, iTunes Smart Playlists may be the solution you need.

How to set it up

Open iTunes on your Mac or PC, and choose File, then New, then Smart Playlist.

Keep the default setting: Match music for the following rules. You'll only need to create one rule: Under the first drop-down menu, choose Date Added. And under the second drop-down menu, choose in the last, then type the appropriate number of days/weeks/months that you want your Smart Playlist to apply to.

We're regularly adding music to our digital collection, so for us 365 days was more than enough to ensure we'd always have more than 2 gigabytes of music available. For those who add new albums less frequently, perhaps two or three years would be a better selection.




The key to making sure you max out the limit on your Apple Watch is the next step: Check the Limit to box, enter 2 in the space next to it, and then select GB in the drop-down menu. This is because the Apple Watch is limited to a maximum of 2 gigabytes of music, or 250 songs. For us, 2 gigabytes worked out to 265 songs, so going with capacity gets us the most out of our Apple Watch.

Finally, to ensure it is the most recent 2 gigabytes of songs added to your library, choose most recently added from the drop-down menu to the right of "Limit to."

Of course, you can create Smart Playlists tailored to your needs for all kinds of uses. Perhaps you would prefer to have the 2 gigabytes of songs you most frequently listen to. Or maybe you want to sync songs based on track ratings.

The magic of iTunes Smart Playlists comes in the last check box when creating one: Make sure that Live updating is enabled. This way, every night while your Apple Watch is charging, it will update and sync, and your new music purchases (or whatever you choose to sync) will be included the next morning.




The last thing you'll need to do is open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and choose Music. Select Synced Music and choose your custom, filled-to-the-brim 2-gigabyte playlist. Under Storage Limit, choose 2.0 GB, assuming you aren't opting for the 250-song limit.

You'll have to connect your Apple Watch to a charger for the playlist to automatically sync wirelessly. Once it does, you'll have the maximum amount of music you can store on the wearable device, free to listen to wireless headphones when your iPhone is not within range, such as while running or at the gym.

How it could be better

Of course, this process highlights a number of limitations with Apple's current system. For starters, you need to use a Mac or PC to create a Smart Playlist that syncs through iCloud. Simply put, there is no way to create a Smart Playlist without iTunes on the desktop.




Also, Apple's music storage limit on the Apple Watch appears somewhat arbitrary at this point. As heavy Apple Watch users, we have an additional 4.4 gigabytes of storage remaining, even after syncing the full 2 gigs to the device. It would be nice for Apple to allow users to sync more music if they choose.

Finally, there is no native support for podcast syncing on the Apple Watch. To do this, you'll need to download a podcast and save it as part of your music library, then sync to the watch.

All of these are issues that Apple could address in watchOS 4 and iOS 11. Both of the anticipated next-generation platforms are expected to be announced at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference, set to be held in San Jose June 5-9.

For more on how to get the most out of your Apple Watch, see AppleInsider's ongoing Apple Watch tips series.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    "Open iTunes on your Mac or PC"

    Stopped right there.
    anantksundaramschlack
  • Reply 2 of 12
    "Open iTunes on your Mac or PC"

    Stopped right there.
    Agreed. It's a POS piece of software at this point.
    schlack
  • Reply 3 of 12
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 315editor
    "Open iTunes on your Mac or PC"

    Stopped right there.
    Agreed. It's a POS piece of software at this point.
    Until native Smart Playlist creation comes to iOS, this is the world we live in.
    schlacklolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 12
    schlackschlack Posts: 593member
    Should just be an option in the Apple Watch App. Check a box to fill Apple Watch with most recently played music.
  • Reply 5 of 12
    zroger73zroger73 Posts: 451member
    "Open iTunes on your Mac or PC"

    Stopped right there.
    Agreed. It's a POS piece of software at this point.
    Unfortunately, I agree. iTunes used to be bad. Then, it got good. A few years ago, it started getting bad again. Now, it's a mess. My library has become a shredded mixture of partially duplicated, partially unsychronized, partially-"iClouded" mess of disorganization. My biggest mistake of all time was turning on iTunes Match and iCloud (which I have since turned off, but the mess remains). That's when all the crap started. Before that, I bought songs using iTunes on my Mac and everything synced perfectly with my iPhone. That's no longer the case. Songs inexplicably don't make it from my computer to my phone. Thanks to iTunes (mis)Match, several songs were replaced by a completely different song while retaining the correct song information and artwork. Either I'm getting older or Apple is getting sloppier (or both), but the simple, "it just works" days seemed to have disappeared in favor of needless complexity and problems.
    anantksundaram
  • Reply 6 of 12
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 315editor
    schlack said:
    Should just be an option in the Apple Watch App. Check a box to fill Apple Watch with most recently played music.
    It seems like it would be a no-brainer to include, doesn't it? iPods connected to iTunes have a "fill it to the brim" option. You can even downscale the music quality to 128kbps to squeeze more music onto an iPod. Who knows if this is done for the watch or not.

    Obviously the addition of LTE would solve a lot of the problems with syncing, and potentially add native playlist management. And perhaps (gasp!) add support for multiple playlists. I am very curious to see what kind of battery life Apple could eke out of a watch with LTE-based Apple Music/iCloud Music Library streaming.

    Right now, the Apple Watch and its dependence on the iPhone reminds me of the early days of the iPhone and iPad. The fact that you couldn't even set up an iPad without connecting it to iTunes via USB was Apple's not-so-subtle way of saying "This won't fully replace your computer... yet."
    edited April 11
  • Reply 7 of 12
    jdgazjdgaz Posts: 131member
    Obviously Rome was not built in a day, nor are all the hooks to iOS and iTunes from the watch. Most people I know can handle these minor limitations.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 12
    JTNJTN Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    My only wish is for the Watch to automatically switch to the music on my watch instead of dumbly searching for my iphone that I left in the locker. Turn on BT headphones and voila! the Watch connects to the headphones and my music collection on the Watch plays without having to switch libraries and fiddle with the Watch to get things started. Is that so hard, Apple?
    Royfb
  • Reply 9 of 12
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 315editor
    JTN said:
    My only wish is for the Watch to automatically switch to the music on my watch instead of dumbly searching for my iphone that I left in the locker. Turn on BT headphones and voila! the Watch connects to the headphones and my music collection on the Watch plays without having to switch libraries and fiddle with the Watch to get things started. Is that so hard, Apple?
    I've had a weird bug with watchOS 3.2 onward and W1 headphones (AirPods and Powerbeats3), where the headphones refuse to connect to my watch if my iPhone remains in range. I've taken to putting my phone in airplane mode before I head out for a run to solve the problem, but that kind of defeats some of the convenience of the W1 chip.
  • Reply 10 of 12
    jdgaz said:
    Obviously Rome was not built in a day, nor are all the hooks to iOS and iTunes from the watch. Most people I know can handle these minor limitations.
    Obviously. The fact that many of us can "handle minor limitations" has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that things could be better. There's no need to settle for less.
  • Reply 11 of 12
    DanD1982DanD1982 Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    My watch says the capacity is 5.8 gigs, and with seven apps, 2 photos and synced iMessages and whatever else synced, i have 4.9 gigs left. Can someone tell me how with 2 gigs of music, they still have 4.4 gigs remaining?
  • Reply 12 of 12
    shaminoshamino Posts: 372member
    This is hardly new advice.  I wrote about doing this (for iPods) back in April, 2014.  In my case, I set the smart playlist to "not played in the last 90 days", so my music collection would randomly shuffle through the iPod.  (At the time, it was 50GB of music library and a 4GB iPod nano.)  Every sync removes songs I've already played and replaces them with ones that I haven't.

    That post describes a simplified version of what I've been doing since I got my first iPod mini a long long time ago.  I use two smart playlists.  The first one selects all not-recently-played tracks, prioritized by my star rating.  Something like:

    • 5 stars and not played in the last 30 days
    • 4 stars and not played in the last 60 days
    • 3 stars and not played in the last 90 days
    • 2 stars and not played in the last 180 days
    • 1 star and not played in the last year

    Then I use another smart playlist that randomly selects 3.5GB from that list.  I sync that second playlist to the iPod.  So not only does it cycle my music through the iPod as I play tracks, but the tracks I like best will appear more often than the tracks I don't like as much.

    There is absolutely no reason why you couldn't do something similar for a Watch.

    edited April 13
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