How to get music on your Wear OS smartwatch

Listen to music from the wrist with these simple steps
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You can store music on your Wear OS smartwatch and hook up a pair of Bluetooth headphones – enabling you to listen to tunes away from your smartphone.

Wear OS devices come with built-in storage, usually 4GB, which can be used to store MP3s.

But how do you listen to music from a Wear OS smartwatch? In this guide, we'll walk through the required steps to getting music on your Wear OS watch, as well as details on pairing Bluetooth headphones.

Make sure your smartwatch is able to store music and is updated to the latest version of Wear before you begin, then follow the instructions below.

1. Download Google Play Music

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While you can control other music apps on your phone from your wrist, including Spotify, Google Play Music is currently the only one that lets you store and play music right from your watch without any need for a phone connection.

1. Open the Google Play Store app on your smartwatch.

2. Download the Play Music app.

3. Sign into your Google account on your watch.

4. Existing tracks and playlists created on the phone or web should automatically appear on the smartwatch.

If the right Google account isn't selected, this can be changed from the app's settings. And if you're looking to create a playlist specifically for your Wear device, we'd recommend doing so on the web or your phone first - it's much easier.

2. Download your music

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Getting tracks downloaded is as easy as pressing and holding on the album or playlist you want to download, or tapping the download button to the top right. Assuming you're connected to a Wi-Fi or cell network, the tracks start syncing.

If you pay for a premium subscription to Google Play Music, you can sync any tracks you like. If not, you can only sync the MP3s that you've uploaded to the service yourself. Note, too, that your smartwatch counts as one of the 10 devices you can use with the app.

To see only the music that you've stored locally on your watch, scroll down to the bottom of the app's opening screen and tick the 'Show' downloaded only box.

Here are those steps again, condensed:

Download music on Wear to play offline

1. Ensure your Wear watch is connected to Wi-Fi or has a cellular connection.

2. Open the Google Play Music app on your watch.

3. Next to the song, album or playlist, tap the download icon. You can press the cancel icon to stop the download.

4. Once the music has been downloaded to your device, it should appear with a tick next to it.

3. Connect your headphones

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Not all Wear OS watches come with integrated speakers, and, even if yours does, it won't be great for listening to music. You need to connect some Bluetooth headphones for that early morning jog, if you haven't already done so.

On your watch, head to Settings > Connectivity > Bluetooth > Available devices to look for your headphones, which need to be in pairing mode (check the instructions that came with the headphones if you're unsure about this).

Read this: Essential Wear OS tips and tricks

The playback controls in the Google Play Music app are all self-explanatory, with the centre button starting and stopping playback, and the ones to the side letting you skip tracks. Tap on the speaker button to adjust the volume.

If you start playing music through Google Play Music on your phone, the same playback controls will automatically show up on your wrist, so you can adjust the volume, pause playback, and skip tracks without taking your phone out of your pocket.

Can you download Spotify on Wear OS smartwatches?

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If you prefer accessing your tunes through Spotify, there is a dedicated app available for Wear OS. You can find and install it through the Play Store.

You can use the Spotify app to browse through your playlists, beam music to a connected device (like a smart speaker or your phone) and to control playback. If you need to start or stop the music, this can also be done from your Wear OS device.

What you can't do (at least not yet) is sync any music over to your Wear OS watch and play it straight from your wrist without a connection to your phone. If you're heading out with just your watch, you'll need to use Google Play Music.

Using older versions of Wear

For those of you stuck on pre-2.0 versions of Wear OS (when it was still called Android Wear), the process is a little more fiddly, but it's still possible to get music on your watch. Again, Google Play Music is key, which you'll need to install on your smartphone rather than directly on your watch.

From the Settings menu in the app on your phone, you'll see an Android Wear section, which doesn't appear if you're connected to a watch running Wear OS 2.0 or above. Toggle the Download to Android Wear switch to On, then tap Manage Wear downloads to choose which of your tracks to sync to the watch.

It's actually a pretty straightforward process, but it does of course rely on you using your phone rather than your smartwatch to manage and sync your music, something Google wants to move away from.

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David is a freelance tech writer who has been writing about technology, gadgets and gizmos for more than 20 years.

You can find his work on The Guardian, Wired, Gizmodo, PopSci, TechRadar, T3 and many other major publications on the web and in print.

He spends all day, (almost) every day testing out, explaining, and reviewing smartphones, laptops, smart home kit, wearables, and other essential devices.

From iOS to Wear OS, from Samsung to Sony, he's got an intimate knowledge of almost everything going on in the world of technology right now. When it comes to wearables, there aren't many smartwatches, fitness trackers and VR headsets that he hasn't tried and tested – which means he has a wealth of experience to draw on when it comes to talking about something new or the market in general.


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