watchOS 4 no longer lets you browse iPhone music library on your Apple Watch

Posted:
in Apple Watch
In a major change to how the Apple Watch operates, users can no longer browse their iPhone's music library after updating to watchOS 4, and instead can only view songs stored on the watch itself.




Previously, users could use Force Touch or scroll up in the Music app's main menu to choose a source. There, watchOS 3 and prior presented the option to view tracks stored on or streamed from a connected iPhone, as well as those stored on the watch itself.

But with Tuesday's release of watchOS 4, there is no way to view the music library from a connected phone. Launching the new Music app in watchOS 4 presents users only with songs that have been synced directly to the watch.

Of course, this is less of a concern for users buying the new Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular on Friday, as it will have the ability to stream music directly without a connected iPhone. However, support for streaming from Apple Music and iTunes Match isn't arriving until October at the earliest, and that feature does not apply to watchOS 4 users without a Series 3 with cellular model.



Other changes to the Music app in watchOS 4 include the ability to automatically add songs that are in a listener's "heavy rotation." Users can also manually select multiple playlists to sync to the watch, though it is limited to 2 gigabytes of storage.

While watchOS 4 will no longer allow a user to browse their iPhone's music library, they can still use the Apple Watch to control it. In fact, it's now easier than ever: A "Now Playing" screen shows up by default when the user is playing music from their iPhone, giving quick access to pause, skip a track, or adjust the volume with the Digital Crown.

However, in order to take advantage of this, users must start the playback of music on their iPhone, then continue controlling it via the Apple Watch.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 52
    "However, in order to take advantage of this, users must start the playback of music on their iPhone, then continue controlling it via the Apple Watch." Ugh. Damn you, Magic Watch!
    huertaja
  • Reply 2 of 52
    subieGDsubieGD Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    this sucks. I always pick playlist from my watch while commuting so i don't have to pull out my phone which i keep in my back pack. sigh
    repressthisSoundJudgmentNY1822huertajaKingPacific
  • Reply 3 of 52
    Once again, Apple downgrades their devices after we've bought them. They did this to the AppleTV when they took away Photos library browsing. WTF is wrong with these people? The list of new Apple hardware I'm interested in buying gets shorter every year.
    edited September 2017 SoundJudgmenthuertajaKingPacific
  • Reply 4 of 52
    emig647emig647 Posts: 2,393member
    I'm actually welcoming this. It seems I'm constantly battling playing music off of the watch vs the phone. Yesterday my phone was just out of reach (in locker room) while I was working out. I started playing music off of the watch, then it switched to the phone middle of playback, then back to the watch, but show the music on the phone while playing a different song off of the watch. I can see how this feature change would get rid of these types of problems.
    repressthisappleismymiddlenamedws-2
  • Reply 5 of 52
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 2,984member
    "However, in order to take advantage of this, users must start the playback of music on their iPhone, then continue controlling it via the Apple Watch." Ugh. Damn you, Magic Watch!
    Interesting. I wonder if this has anything to do with the push to stream from Apple Music? If so, I wonder what this means for local songs storage which is currently limited to 2GB or 250 songs. Storage is going up, so I wonder if Apple expects customers to store more songs on the watch as a result, with less reliance on the iPhone overall?
    repressthisSoundJudgmentdws-2
  • Reply 6 of 52
    mac_128 said:
    "However, in order to take advantage of this, users must start the playback of music on their iPhone, then continue controlling it via the Apple Watch." Ugh. Damn you, Magic Watch!
    Interesting. I wonder if this has anything to do with the push to stream from Apple Music? If so, I wonder what this means for local songs storage which is currently limited to 2GB or 250 songs. Storage is going up, so I wonder if Apple expects customers to store more songs on the watch as a result, with less reliance on the iPhone overall?
    My best guess is that this change aims to resolve the question of "Should I pair my headphones to my phone or to my watch?" If you start playing the music on your phone, you should pair to your phone. If you start playing on your watch, pair to your watch.

    This still doesn't resolve the issue of playing music from your phone while at the gym, but not getting any workout-related audible alerts from your watch, because your Bluetooth headphones are paired with your phone.

    It would seem to me that the best solution to this would be to intelligently route audio alerts from the watch *through the phone* when working out and streaming music from the phone. Otherwise, the alternative would be to force streaming/audio on the watch, draining the battery life of the smaller and less capable device of the two. However, this is just me spitballing and might actually be a major technical hurdle for Apple. It's clearly a problem, though.
    repressthispscooter63anonymist
  • Reply 7 of 52
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,029member
    What a pain, I use this feautre daily.
    KingPacific
  • Reply 8 of 52
    Maybe this is just a re-write, and it will appear again in the next updates?
    mobirdslprescott
  • Reply 9 of 52
    Two things. This software was in public beta a long time. Was this change made after? And you need not upgrade much as you might wish to as first adopters. I am letting you all run a wider public test for me before I update. :-)
  • Reply 10 of 52
    kiowavt said:
    Two things. This software was in public beta a long time. Was this change made after? And you need not upgrade much as you might wish to as first adopters. I am letting you all run a wider public test for me before I update. :-)
    This change has been in effect since the first watchOS 4 beta. One correction, however: Apple does not have a public beta program for watchOS (mostly because if the install fails, you have to mail the hardware in to Apple for it to be fixed). There have only been developer betas of watchOS 4, no public betas.
    edited September 2017 repressthisSoundJudgment
  • Reply 11 of 52
    peteopeteo Posts: 306member
    This is the worst. I used this feature all time while commuting, in the shower and in the pool. Why they heck did they take this out.

    Please leave apple feedback and let them know we want this feature back (maybe they can add it back when they update the watch music app for apple music)

    https://www.apple.com/feedback/watch.html
    KingPacific
  • Reply 12 of 52
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 4,984member
    Once again, Apple downgrades their devices after we've bought them. They did this to the AppleTV when they took away Photos library browsing. WTF is wrong with these people? The list of new Apple hardware I'm interested in buying gets shorter every year.
    “Once again”? Why don’t you provide us a list of such real examples, if you’re pretending this is a trend? 

    Also, I can browse my entire photos library through my Apple TV so don’t know WTF you’re talking about. More FUD, obviously. 
    StrangeDayspscooter63applepieguymmatz
  • Reply 13 of 52
    Why Apple ? Why reduce functionality choices and options.... ???
    KingPacific
  • Reply 14 of 52
    nhughes said:
    mac_128 said:
    "However, in order to take advantage of this, users must start the playback of music on their iPhone, then continue controlling it via the Apple Watch." Ugh. Damn you, Magic Watch!
    Interesting. I wonder if this has anything to do with the push to stream from Apple Music? If so, I wonder what this means for local songs storage which is currently limited to 2GB or 250 songs. Storage is going up, so I wonder if Apple expects customers to store more songs on the watch as a result, with less reliance on the iPhone overall?
    My best guess is that this change aims to resolve the question of "Should I pair my headphones to my phone or to my watch?" If you start playing the music on your phone, you should pair to your phone. If you start playing on your watch, pair to your watch.

    This still doesn't resolve the issue of playing music from your phone while at the gym, but not getting any workout-related audible alerts from your watch, because your Bluetooth headphones are paired with your phone.

    It would seem to me that the best solution to this would be to intelligently route audio alerts from the watch *through the phone* when working out and streaming music from the phone. Otherwise, the alternative would be to force streaming/audio on the watch, draining the battery life of the smaller and less capable device of the two. However, this is just me spitballing and might actually be a major technical hurdle for Apple. It's clearly a problem, though.
    I use my watch in the gym several times a week but haven’t run into this. I guess i’m not listening for audible alerts from my watch, like ever, it’s always on mute. my Airpods are connected to the phone which is playing my music (i bring my phone because i use weight lifting tracker apps on it). 
  • Reply 15 of 52
    nhughes said:
    mac_128 said:
    "However, in order to take advantage of this, users must start the playback of music on their iPhone, then continue controlling it via the Apple Watch." Ugh. Damn you, Magic Watch!
    Interesting. I wonder if this has anything to do with the push to stream from Apple Music? If so, I wonder what this means for local songs storage which is currently limited to 2GB or 250 songs. Storage is going up, so I wonder if Apple expects customers to store more songs on the watch as a result, with less reliance on the iPhone overall?
    My best guess is that this change aims to resolve the question of "Should I pair my headphones to my phone or to my watch?" If you start playing the music on your phone, you should pair to your phone. If you start playing on your watch, pair to your watch.

    This still doesn't resolve the issue of playing music from your phone while at the gym, but not getting any workout-related audible alerts from your watch, because your Bluetooth headphones are paired with your phone.

    It would seem to me that the best solution to this would be to intelligently route audio alerts from the watch *through the phone* when working out and streaming music from the phone. Otherwise, the alternative would be to force streaming/audio on the watch, draining the battery life of the smaller and less capable device of the two. However, this is just me spitballing and might actually be a major technical hurdle for Apple. It's clearly a problem, though.
    I use my watch in the gym several times a week but haven’t run into this. I guess i’m not listening for audible alerts from my watch, like ever, it’s always on mute. my Airpods are connected to the phone which is playing my music (i bring my phone because i use weight lifting tracker apps on it). 
    I run outside with the Nike+ Run Club app. If I have music loaded on my watch and run with just my watch + AirPods, I get both music and workout audible alerts (time and pace every mile, for example). If I want to listen to something that's not on my watch, I bring my phone. My AirPods pair with my phone for music, but I no longer hear any of the Nike+ Run Club alerts from my watch.

    At some point over the last year, I actually had a problem where watch alerts would hijack my W1 headphones (auto-switch inputs) and pause music on the phone, without switching back to the phone or restarting the music. Subsequent updates have made it so you manually select the headphones when you start playing music, which sort of kills some of the functionality but avoids that weird issue.

    It seems to me that Bluetooth technology, even when enhanced by W1, has some source issues when connecting to multiple devices.
  • Reply 16 of 52
    This absolutely infuriates me. I used this function as a remote control for my iPhone on a daily basis since it was quicker to pause and advance music than unlocking the iPhone. I also use this on long flights to listen to my music library without having to have my iPhone out. I've just changed my mind on Apple Watch 3. I'm not particularly enthused about paying at least $10/month for cellular so was going to grab a wifi only Watch 3. Not anymore. Why on earth did they remove this functionality and not move it somewhere else, such as the remote app. Bad, bad move Apple. 
    KingPacific
  • Reply 17 of 52
    I had the 'Music' complication on my ('Modular') watchface. This does not work well onder Watchos 4, because it does not handle the music from my iPhone.
    I changed the complication to 'Current' ('Huidige' in Dutch, I assume 'Current' is the name in English) and all was well.

    Strange that Apple crippled the 'Music' complication and created another with the right (former) behavior.
  • Reply 18 of 52
    dws-2dws-2 Posts: 165member
    thanx_al said:
    This absolutely infuriates me. I used this function as a remote control for my iPhone on a daily basis since it was quicker to pause and advance music than unlocking the iPhone. I also use this on long flights to listen to my music library without having to have my iPhone out. I've just changed my mind on Apple Watch 3. I'm not particularly enthused about paying at least $10/month for cellular so was going to grab a wifi only Watch 3. Not anymore. Why on earth did they remove this functionality and not move it somewhere else, such as the remote app. Bad, bad move Apple. 

    I don't think this article explains the change as well as it could. I have Watch OS 4, and I use it to play, pause, and advance music on my iPhone all the time. In fact, in Watch OS 4, it automatically goes to the correct screen when you play music from your phone.

    What this refers to is if you are storing music on your Apple Watch, and you go to the Watch's music app (looks like an iTunes logo), everything in that music app is just stuff stored locally. If you start a playlist from your iPhone, you'll still have all the remote controls available.
    slprescottHdow
  • Reply 19 of 52
    dws-2 said:
    thanx_al said:
    This absolutely infuriates me. I used this function as a remote control for my iPhone on a daily basis since it was quicker to pause and advance music than unlocking the iPhone. I also use this on long flights to listen to my music library without having to have my iPhone out. I've just changed my mind on Apple Watch 3. I'm not particularly enthused about paying at least $10/month for cellular so was going to grab a wifi only Watch 3. Not anymore. Why on earth did they remove this functionality and not move it somewhere else, such as the remote app. Bad, bad move Apple. 

    I don't think this article explains the change as well as it could. I have Watch OS 4, and I use it to play, pause, and advance music on my iPhone all the time. In fact, in Watch OS 4, it automatically goes to the correct screen when you play music from your phone.

    What this refers to is if you are storing music on your Apple Watch, and you go to the Watch's music app (looks like an iTunes logo), everything in that music app is just stuff stored locally. If you start a playlist from your iPhone, you'll still have all the remote controls available.
    No it doesn't work. I used to be able to go to "library" and choose any playlist on my iPhone. To get controls, I have to manually switch to "now playing". Nowhere can I find the old playlist index that refers back to my playlist library on my iPhone. 
    NY1822
  • Reply 20 of 52
    I don’t understand the impact of this article. Does it mean that I will no longer be able to access iTunes Match on my Watch?
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