How to sync music and playlists to Apple Watch with watchOS 4 & iOS 11

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited October 2017
If you exercise with an Apple Watch, you'll want to load some music onto it. Thankfully with watchOS 4, Apple now lets you load multiple playlists and albums onto the wrist-worn device. AppleInsider explains how to do it.




Because the Apple Watch is mostly tethered to the iPhone, most tasks for managing the device are done through the dedicated Watch app on iOS. Music on Apple Watch is no different -- you'll manage the songs loaded directly onto the watch from there.

Why would you want to do this? Loading songs onto the Apple Watch means you can play music to a pair of connected Bluetooth headphones, like Apple's AirPods, without having your iPhone nearby.

This is especially useful with the Apple Watch Series 2 and Series 3 models, both of which feature GPS connectivity for tracking outdoor activities without a connected iPhone.

Loading music onto the Apple Watch is especially crucial, since Apple removed the ability to browse an iPhone's music library via the device. And even if you have an LTE-capable Series 3 model, it won't be able to stream Apple Music until watchOS 4.1 launches later this month.

After you open the Watch app, choose Music, and you'll be able to enable a feature called Heavy Rotation. This features both playlists and albums that the user frequently enjoys on their iPhone.

watchOS 4.1 brings changes to the Music app, but the syncing process is the same as 4.0.


Beyond that, there is an Add Music that lets users select playlists and albums of their choosing.

It should be noted that all Apple Watch models feature 8 gigabytes of storage except for the LTE-connected Series 3 model, which doubles that to 16 gigabytes. You cannot, in the current state of watchOS, fill up your watch to the brim, however, as Apple caps the amount of music to be synced.

In watchOS 3, Apple gave users a choice of up to 2 gigabytes of music, or 250 total songs. With watchOS 4, that option has mysteriously disappeared, and it's unclear how the system decides how much music is allowed to be synced to the watch.

Finally, music does not instantly sync to the Apple Watch -- the device must be placed on its charger to begin the transfer process, ensuring the battery is not drained from moving files.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,862member
    This is such a hassle. I absolutely hate Apple Music, but I have no choice because Spotify isn't an option on the Watch.
  • Reply 2 of 20
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 750editor
    Soli said:
    This is such a hassle. I absolutely hate Apple Music, but I have no choice because Spotify isn't an option on the Watch.
    I'm an iTunes Match subscriber and I have been very, very happy with watchOS 4.1 beta LTE music streaming thus far.

    I thought that perhaps Spotify and the like would be able to tap into the LTE streaming capabilities of the Series 3 if they so chose. But I dug a little bit deeper and it turns out that the current APIs in watchOS do not allow third-party apps to do audio streaming. We'll probably have a story detailing that in the near future.
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 3 of 20
    "If you exercise with an Apple Watch, you'll want to load some music onto it." No, I won't. I chiefly play golf, plus I have no wireless earphones. I have triumphed on the field of valor once more!
  • Reply 4 of 20
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 750editor
    "If you exercise with an Apple Watch, you'll want to load some music onto it." No, I won't. I chiefly play golf, plus I have no wireless earphones. I have triumphed on the field of valor once more!
    Golf isn't exercise, it's a leisure sport. Even if you walk all 18 holes.
    StrangeDaysking editor the grate
  • Reply 5 of 20
    Anyone who is thinking of adding music their Apple Watch, be aware: syncing the music is a very slow process.  You may want to consider letting the transfer happen overnight if you're moving a lot of music.

    I've done it on 3 Apple Watches so far (currently in process on a Series 3 with LTE).  What I find mildly frustrating is the lack of a decent progress bar.  In the Watch app on the iPhone it simply says "Updating" at the top.  Occasionally I see what looks like it may be an orange progress bar, but it comes and goes and never really progresses.  On the Apple Watch in the Music app there is a spinning, partial circle for Albums/Playlists, etc., that are waiting and a circular progress bar on the Albums and Playlists that are currently transferring, so at least that's something.

    Still, it's a slow process so don't expect to transfer music a few minutes before walking out the door.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 6 of 20

    Soli said:
    This is such a hassle. I absolutely hate Apple Music, but I have no choice because Spotify isn't an option on the Watch.
    I don't find it to be so much a hassle, aside from the slowness of the transfer.  Choosing music is quick and straightforward and once it's on the Watch is easy to play/navigate/etc.

    Out of curiosity, what is it you hate about Apple Music?  I've heard this from a few long-time Spotify users and the only answer I ever get is "I don't like the interface".  I kind of get that response but only kind of because I use Siri for most of my Apple Music interactions and rarely go into the app itself.  Granted, that may not fit your use case but I'm still curious.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 7 of 20
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,862member

    Soli said:
    This is such a hassle. I absolutely hate Apple Music, but I have no choice because Spotify isn't an option on the Watch.
    I don't find it to be so much a hassle, aside from the slowness of the transfer.  Choosing music is quick and straightforward and once it's on the Watch is easy to play/navigate/etc.

    Out of curiosity, what is it you hate about Apple Music?  I've heard this from a few long-time Spotify users and the only answer I ever get is "I don't like the interface".  I kind of get that response but only kind of because I use Siri for most of my Apple Music interactions and rarely go into the app itself.  Granted, that may not fit your use case but I'm still curious.
    From the iPhone's Music app how I can quickly find a track, create a playlist, and then quickly populate that playlist with all tracks I want to add? This is straightforward on Spotify. I have to go to my Mac to bring up iTunes, which itself is poorly designed compared to Spotify's web UI. As of now, the only way I'm getting Apple Music on my Watch is to use my Mac to download and then download to iPhone to then download to Watch when I really only want it downloaded in one location.
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 8 of 20
    nhughes said:
    "If you exercise with an Apple Watch, you'll want to load some music onto it." No, I won't. I chiefly play golf, plus I have no wireless earphones. I have triumphed on the field of valor once more!
    Golf isn't exercise, it's a leisure sport. Even if you walk all 18 holes.
    Seven reasons golfers are athletes (link)
  • Reply 9 of 20

    This:

    Loading music onto the Apple Watch is especially crucial, since Apple removed the ability to browse an iPhone's music library via the device. 
    ...plus this:

    It should be noted that all Apple Watch models feature 8 gigabytes of storage except for the LTE-connected Series 3 model, which doubles that to 16 gigabytes. You cannot, in the current state of watchOS, fill up your watch to the brim, however, as Apple caps the amount of music to be synced.

    In watchOS 3, Apple gave users a choice of up to 2 gigabytes of music, or 250 total songs. With watchOS 4, that option has mysteriously disappeared, and it's unclear how the system decides how much music is allowed to be synced to the watch.
    = bullshit on Apple's part, sadly.
  • Reply 10 of 20

    nhughes said:
    "If you exercise with an Apple Watch, you'll want to load some music onto it." No, I won't. I chiefly play golf, plus I have no wireless earphones. I have triumphed on the field of valor once more!
    Golf isn't exercise, it's a leisure sport. Even if you walk all 18 holes.
    You should try it some time the real way, carrying the clubs on your back.
  • Reply 11 of 20
    nhughes said:
    "If you exercise with an Apple Watch, you'll want to load some music onto it." No, I won't. I chiefly play golf, plus I have no wireless earphones. I have triumphed on the field of valor once more!
    Golf isn't exercise, it's a leisure sport. Even if you walk all 18 holes.
    Seven reasons golfers are athletes (link)
    You forgot the sarcasm tag. Seriously that’s all just stuff old guys tell themselves to feel better about not actually being athletic. Pick up barbell strength training then let’s talk about power.
  • Reply 12 of 20
    nhughes said:
    "If you exercise with an Apple Watch, you'll want to load some music onto it." No, I won't. I chiefly play golf, plus I have no wireless earphones. I have triumphed on the field of valor once more!
    Golf isn't exercise, it's a leisure sport. Even if you walk all 18 holes.
    Seven reasons golfers are athletes (link)

    nhughes said:
    "If you exercise with an Apple Watch, you'll want to load some music onto it." No, I won't. I chiefly play golf, plus I have no wireless earphones. I have triumphed on the field of valor once more!
    Golf isn't exercise, it's a leisure sport. Even if you walk all 18 holes.
    You should try it some time the real way, carrying the clubs on your back.
    I have no issues with golf — I enjoy it, and was merely trolling back in kind at a troll.
  • Reply 13 of 20
    Pod. Cast. App. Please. 
  • Reply 14 of 20
    "Golf isn't exercise, it's a leisure sport. Even if you walk all 18 holes." 

    My heart rate averages 125 during a round with cart. Watch says I'm burning 1,200 active calories, 1,500 total. However, I try harder and suck more than most people. (Resting heart rate is mid-upper 70s.)
  • Reply 15 of 20
    Anyone who is thinking of adding music their Apple Watch, be aware: syncing the music is a very slow process.  You may want to consider letting the transfer happen overnight if you're moving a lot of music.

    I've done it on 3 Apple Watches so far (currently in process on a Series 3 with LTE).  What I find mildly frustrating is the lack of a decent progress bar.  In the Watch app on the iPhone it simply says "Updating" at the top.  Occasionally I see what looks like it may be an orange progress bar, but it comes and goes and never really progresses.  On the Apple Watch in the Music app there is a spinning, partial circle for Albums/Playlists, etc., that are waiting and a circular progress bar on the Albums and Playlists that are currently transferring, so at least that's something.

    Still, it's a slow process so don't expect to transfer music a few minutes before walking out the door.
    Couldn't agree more.  This is such a weak point with the watch and the user experience.  I've been using my watch to listen to music during my runs for months.  It's so nice to be able to run and listen to music without having to take my phone with me.  Just love it.  But my god is getting music on the watch a pain in the *ss!  It can literally take hours to sync a new playlist onto the watch, and sometimes it doesn't get all the songs on there.  There is no progress bar so I have no idea how close the watch it to finishing the sync beyond browsing the library on the phone to see what's on there.  I don't understand why it's so slow.  It's over my wifi network...does the processor of the watch suck so bad it just slowly chugs through?  It really should take just a couple minutes to put a couple hundred songs on the watch.  I'll keep putting up with it because I love the feature, but it really should be improved. 
  • Reply 16 of 20
    rattlhed said:
    Anyone who is thinking of adding music their Apple Watch, be aware: syncing the music is a very slow process.  You may want to consider letting the transfer happen overnight if you're moving a lot of music.

    I've done it on 3 Apple Watches so far (currently in process on a Series 3 with LTE).  What I find mildly frustrating is the lack of a decent progress bar.  In the Watch app on the iPhone it simply says "Updating" at the top.  Occasionally I see what looks like it may be an orange progress bar, but it comes and goes and never really progresses.  On the Apple Watch in the Music app there is a spinning, partial circle for Albums/Playlists, etc., that are waiting and a circular progress bar on the Albums and Playlists that are currently transferring, so at least that's something.

    Still, it's a slow process so don't expect to transfer music a few minutes before walking out the door.
    It really should take just a couple minutes to put a couple hundred songs on the watch.
    Just for reference, I was setting up a new Series 3 today and adding music to it from an iPhone 7. I was attempting to sync just 3 playlists. I started the process around 4:00 and had to leave at 5:00 and was taking my Watch. Over that roughly 1 hour time span 2 of the 3 playlists completed. 1 has 25 songs, the other has 10. The third playlist was in process when I took my Watch off the charger and I don’t think any songs made it over. Also, the album artwork for the second playlist has not yet transferred. So about 1 hour was good enough to transfer 35 songs. 

    I plan to turn on a couple more playlists as I head to bed so it can do its thing while I sleep. 
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 17 of 20
    I let my series 3 sync songs overnight, as it does take a good while to load to the Watch. 

    But it I can’t understand the stance Apple has against podcasts on the Watch. I love plowing through a couple of shows during my longer runs. 
  • Reply 18 of 20

    Just to be clear, I have to load the music to my iPhone, then load it from there to the watch, correct? 

    Must it be music that I play frequently on my phone, or can I actually choose anything?  And can I then remove that music from my phone without it being erased from the watch?  Because honestly, if I am going to move to using the watch to play music when walking or biking, I don't need it on my phone anymore.

    I don't have a watch yet, but I'm thinking very seriously that this is the year to do so.  I suppose I could wait yet another year to see what Apple puts on next year's model, but that seems pointless, since if next year's model is compelling, I'm sure I can find someone who'll want this one. :)

  • Reply 19 of 20
    You forgot the sarcasm tag. Seriously that’s all just stuff old guys tell themselves to feel better about not actually being athletic. Pick up barbell strength training then let’s talk about power.
    Free-weight training gives me the power I need to take turns whacking it in public with a bunch of men.
  • Reply 20 of 20
    Tracks sync to the Apple Watch at speeds not previously seen since the golden age of dial-up. It's actually incredible, given it is 2017, that it can take several hours just to sync a handful of playlists to a brand new Series 3 watch. It's a feature... not a bug... right?
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