Apple's watchOS 4.3 revives ability to browse an iPhone's music library from Apple Watch

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited January 25
With Apple's watchOS 4.3 beta, released to developers earlier on Thursday, users can once again peruse their iPhone's music catalog from a connected Apple Watch, a feature curiously removed from watchOS last year.




As seen in the screenshots above, the first watchOS 4.3 beta allows Apple Watch users to access, browse and control playback of their iPhone's music library.

The new OS appears to fully reinstate media controls lost with watchOS 4, including the ability to "love" or "dislike" songs, delete tracks from a connected library and route audio to AirPlay devices.



Apple caused a bit of a stir when it removed support for browsing connected iPhone music libraries with watchOS 4 last September.

At the time, users were able to control songs being played on a connected iPhone via a "Now Playing" screen, but browsing was limited to tracks synced to or stored on an Apple Watch. The situation improved slightly when Apple Music and iTunes Match streaming arrived on cellular-enabled Apple Watch Series 3 devices with a subsequent update, but the inability to browse an iPhone's catalog was for some a glaring oversight.

In previous watchOS versions, like watchOS 3, Apple Watch users were able to search for songs on a connected iPhone by selecting their phone as a source in Watch's built-in Music app. This feature was integral for the storage-constrained device, which even in its current form is maxed out at 16GB of available space. Audio streaming alleviated the problem to a certain degree, but a restriction to cellular versions of the device left owners of GPS only models in the lurch.

Apple released watchOS 4.3 beta earlier today without notes, leaving developers to spelunk through the OS to find new features like iPhone music library browsing.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    Happy this feature is (just about) back!

    repressthischia
  • Reply 2 of 21
    Hooray. I will finally do a software update. More importantly, I might seriously consider the Series 3 now. 

    It it was a frustratingly strange move by Apple. Never explained. The only thing I can figure is that they were desperately trying to push AppleMusic. 
  • Reply 3 of 21
    krawallkrawall Posts: 148member
    Yay! Good news. I think I'll try the beta (not beta 1, of course) of this one, can't wait to have this feature back.
  • Reply 4 of 21
    levilevi Posts: 344member
    Thank god. If you’re not using cellular capable watch, the on device music experience is hardly ideal 
  • Reply 5 of 21
    Hooray. I will finally do a software update. More importantly, I might seriously consider the Series 3 now. 

    It it was a frustratingly strange move by Apple. Never explained. The only thing I can figure is that they were desperately trying to push AppleMusic. 
    I doubt it was such a sinister waxed-mustache-twirling ploy, and more likely an ease of use debate. my SO had often had trouble playing back from the wrong device, jogging away from the house only to have the music halt — not realizing she was navigating and playing back from the iphone, via the watch. a drag because she‘d then stop her run and dick around with the watch some more. she usually failed to switch it over to “local mode” and just ran in silence, pissed off. to her as a non techie having two modes was counter-intuitive. she just wanted to play music on her watch on a run and not have to fiddlly fart with it. the current mode made this use case easier to accomplish. 
    edited January 25 fastasleepCheeseFreezechianetmage
  • Reply 6 of 21
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,038member
    Hooray. I will finally do a software update. More importantly, I might seriously consider the Series 3 now. 

    It it was a frustratingly strange move by Apple. Never explained. The only thing I can figure is that they were desperately trying to push AppleMusic. 
    I doubt it was such a sinister waxed-mustache-twirling ploy, and more likely an ease of use debate. my SO had often had trouble playing back from the wrong device, jogging away from the house only to have the music halt — not realizing she was navigating and playing back from the iphone, via the watch. a drag because she‘d then stop her run and dick around with the watch some more. she usually failed to switch it over to “local mode” and just ran in silence, pissed off. to her as a non techie having two modes was counter-intuitive. she just wanted to play music on her watch on a run and not have to fiddlly fart with it. the current mode made this use case easier to accomplish. 

    Yep. Although everyone and their dog accuse Apple of having evil motivations when "removing options", the truth is that a shitload of options make it confusing and add frustration to 90% of people. I have no doubt that with the vast majority of these decisions, Apple is looking at it from the  perspective of average end user, and how they would intuitively navigate an interface, and not from a technophile's perspective that wants as many options and settings as possible and understands the limits, pros, and cons of each one. 
    edited January 26 PickUrPoisonfastasleepnetmage
  • Reply 7 of 21
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,218member
    Hooray. I will finally do a software update. More importantly, I might seriously consider the Series 3 now. 

    It it was a frustratingly strange move by Apple. Never explained. The only thing I can figure is that they were desperately trying to push AppleMusic. 
    I doubt it was such a sinister waxed-mustache-twirling ploy, and more likely an ease of use debate. my SO had often had trouble playing back from the wrong device, jogging away from the house only to have the music halt — not realizing she was navigating and playing back from the iphone, via the watch. a drag because she‘d then stop her run and dick around with the watch some more. she usually failed to switch it over to “local mode” and just ran in silence, pissed off. to her as a non techie having two modes was counter-intuitive. she just wanted to play music on her watch on a run and not have to fiddlly fart with it. the current mode made this use case easier to accomplish. 
    This is precisely why the did it.

    I was in Jamaica last year and got into the habit of heading to the gym before breakfast. I walked about a quarter mile from our appartment to the gym. Terrible session:  the music kept fading in and out. I thought it couldn’t be the phone because I was a quarter of a mile away. Then I went outside and realised that I could see our apartment at the top of the hill. Vertically speaking I was still about a hundred and fifty odd feet below, so Istill reckoned ‘Nah.’

    Got back to the apartment and Mrs Rayz2016 was not in a good mood. My phone, which I’d left on the bedside table, had started playing my gym list at six-thirty and woken her up. 

    Not sure how the Bluetooth managed that distance; altitude and heat I would guess. 
    fastasleepmainyehc
  • Reply 8 of 21
    cmd-zcmd-z Posts: 29member
    Glad this is coming back, neutering this functionality for the sake of the clueless was a mistake.
    anantksundaram
  • Reply 9 of 21
    I have the Series 3, non-cellular version.  Losing the ability to control my music library from the Watch was the only downside of the new model, but it was a big one.  Looking forward to again being able use the Watch to control music in my vehicle, since doing so is much easier (and safer) than using my particular vehicle’s built-in controls.
    chia
  • Reply 10 of 21
    i usually control music on my iphone with the watch whenever i workout. didn’t notice that it wouldn’t work if you weren’t working out and simply wanted the watch as a remote for operating iphone.
  • Reply 11 of 21
    Any love for audiobooks yet? :)
  • Reply 12 of 21
    19831983 Posts: 1,102member
    The fact that Apple took out that incredibly useful facility from the Watch to begin with was extemely annoying to me! Maybe it was a ruse on Apple’s part to try and get more customers locked into Apple Music? I’m glad they’ve finally come to their senses, and are putting it back, where it should always of been!
    anantksundaram
  • Reply 13 of 21
    airnerdairnerd Posts: 554member
    Glad Apple is either A) listening to feedback or B) have solved the underlying issue that took this away.  I'm still learning the Apple Watch as the AW3+LTE is my first foray into it, but so far so thrilled.  Recently got my airpods and added AppleMusic for the entire family.  Big fans, but still not good at getting around Apple Music on my watch.  Guess Siri is the only way to "browse" music that I haven't added to a playlist or my phone/watch.  #firstworldproblems I know.  
  • Reply 14 of 21
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 572member
    With Apple Music, there is really no need to control your music on an iPhone from the Apple Watch, EXCEPT if you want to play music on AirPlay connected home speakers. It was either allowing Apple Watch to play over AirPlay (which would have been the cleanest solution) or allow the Watch to control the iPhone again. Anyway, I am glad I won;t have to search for my phone when I want to listen to some music at home (which is, more often than not, when sitting with the family in the living room or at the dinner table, the worst places to have a phone with you!).
    trumptman
  • Reply 15 of 21
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,448member
    sflagel said:
    With Apple Music, there is really no need to control your music on an iPhone from the Apple Watch, EXCEPT if you want to play music on AirPlay connected home speakers. It was either allowing Apple Watch to play over AirPlay (which would have been the cleanest solution) or allow the Watch to control the iPhone again. Anyway, I am glad I won;t have to search for my phone when I want to listen to some music at home (which is, more often than not, when sitting with the family in the living room or at the dinner table, the worst places to have a phone with you!).
    You probably hit on the real point. Intentional or not. Homepod is coming and when you can't control music on your phone, then you can't control music on your Homepod. So one attempt to earn money had to outstrip the other. We can't force people to buy Apple Music when they can control music on their phone. However oops, we can't get them to buy a Homepod if they can't control music on it with their Apple Watch. So the slip up had to be fixed up.
  • Reply 16 of 21
    peteopeteo Posts: 325member
    Best news of the day!
  • Reply 17 of 21
    peteopeteo Posts: 325member
    Any love for audiobooks yet? :)
    Or Podcasts?
    beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 18 of 21
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 572member
    trumptman said:
    sflagel said:
    With Apple Music, there is really no need to control your music on an iPhone from the Apple Watch, EXCEPT if you want to play music on AirPlay connected home speakers. It was either allowing Apple Watch to play over AirPlay (which would have been the cleanest solution) or allow the Watch to control the iPhone again. Anyway, I am glad I won;t have to search for my phone when I want to listen to some music at home (which is, more often than not, when sitting with the family in the living room or at the dinner table, the worst places to have a phone with you!).
    You probably hit on the real point. Intentional or not. Homepod is coming and when you can't control music on your phone, then you can't control music on your Homepod. So one attempt to earn money had to outstrip the other. We can't force people to buy Apple Music when they can control music on their phone. However oops, we can't get them to buy a Homepod if they can't control music on it with their Apple Watch. So the slip up had to be fixed up.
    Correct: asking people to have to use the iPhone to listen to music on AirPlay connected speakers was sub-optimal. Asking people to have to use their iPhone to play music on HomePods is even worse. I don't think they can allow to ONLY use voice controls to manage the HomePod (sometimes people want to browse music to chose what to listen to) They have three choices:

    1. Allow remote controlling an iPhone to play via AirPlay (clunky solution but proven to work)
    2. Allow to play music from the Watch via AirPlay (not sure why its not possible, battery or technical limitations?)
    3. Allow remote controlling iPhone and HomePods (may make the UI on the watch a bit crowded)

    I think they are moving top to bottom here.....
  • Reply 19 of 21
    Hooray. I will finally do a software update. More importantly, I might seriously consider the Series 3 now. 

    It it was a frustratingly strange move by Apple. Never explained. The only thing I can figure is that they were desperately trying to push AppleMusic. 
    I doubt it was such a sinister waxed-mustache-twirling ploy, and more likely an ease of use debate. my SO had often had trouble playing back from the wrong device, jogging away from the house only to have the music halt — not realizing she was navigating and playing back from the iphone, via the watch. a drag because she‘d then stop her run and dick around with the watch some more. she usually failed to switch it over to “local mode” and just ran in silence, pissed off. to her as a non techie having two modes was counter-intuitive. she just wanted to play music on her watch on a run and not have to fiddlly fart with it. the current mode made this use case easier to accomplish. 
    What "ease of use" debate? It was easy to use. For me.

    The rest of what you describe, based on your (or someone-you-know) experience, is a software fix.
  • Reply 20 of 21

    Rayz2016 said:
    Hooray. I will finally do a software update. More importantly, I might seriously consider the Series 3 now. 

    It it was a frustratingly strange move by Apple. Never explained. The only thing I can figure is that they were desperately trying to push AppleMusic. 
    I doubt it was such a sinister waxed-mustache-twirling ploy, and more likely an ease of use debate. my SO had often had trouble playing back from the wrong device, jogging away from the house only to have the music halt — not realizing she was navigating and playing back from the iphone, via the watch. a drag because she‘d then stop her run and dick around with the watch some more. she usually failed to switch it over to “local mode” and just ran in silence, pissed off. to her as a non techie having two modes was counter-intuitive. she just wanted to play music on her watch on a run and not have to fiddlly fart with it. the current mode made this use case easier to accomplish. 
    This is precisely why the did it.

    I was in Jamaica last year and got into the habit of heading to the gym before breakfast. I walked about a quarter mile from our appartment to the gym. Terrible session:  the music kept fading in and out. I thought it couldn’t be the phone because I was a quarter of a mile away. Then I went outside and realised that I could see our apartment at the top of the hill. Vertically speaking I was still about a hundred and fifty odd feet below, so Istill reckoned ‘Nah.’

    Got back to the apartment and Mrs Rayz2016 was not in a good mood. My phone, which I’d left on the bedside table, had started playing my gym list at six-thirty and woken her up. 

    Not sure how the Bluetooth managed that distance; altitude and heat I would guess. 
    Oh my, it sounds so complicated for Apple to fix...
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