Can You Listen to Music on a Smartwatch?

Smartwatches have revolutionized how we approach smartphones but can wearables allow us to listen to music on the run? With the technology driving smartwatch production accelerating at break-neck speeds, you can already guess that manufacturers have tried to tackle this idea. But with all the brands and models available today, you may have already guessed that the ability to play music will depend on what type of smartwatch you have.

It is possible to play music directly from a smartwatch. Some wearables will offer storage and Bluetooth connectivity to act as a standalone music player. Others can only control music from your smartphone and require that constant smartphone connection.

Smartwatches can improve your music listening experience. This is especially the case if you are an active person and like to take your music on runs or the gym. Some smartwatches allow you to untether yourself from your phone and create a truly portable music system. One issue you might run into, though, even if you have a smartwatch that can play music without a tethered phone, is how you will listen to the audio.

Playing Music On a Smartwatch: Speakers vs. Bluetooth

When it comes to listening to your music, there is only one option: Bluetooth. This will allow you to connect a pair of wireless headphones or earbuds and listen to your tunes without the need for more cords or wires. Like these Bose Sport Bluetooth Earbuds (on Amazon), Bluetooth headphones can provide high-quality audio and are easy to set up.

Limitations to the Built-In Smartwatch Speaker

You may be wondering if you can use the speaker built into your smartwatch. While this may seem like an easy solution and one that limits the number of devices you will need to keep with you, you will run into a few issues. Most smartwatches will not support routing music player audio through the built-in speaker, and a lot of smartwatches will not even contain a built-in speaker.

Some models will allow this function, but the audio you get from your smartwatch will be low-quality. The reality is that the speaker on your smartwatch is for essential functions, like phone calls or voice commands. They are not meant for streaming high-quality audio like music files.

While some smartwatches can gain this function, you will most likely not be able to hear the music that is playing unless you hold your wrist up to your ear. This is why you’ll want to opt for the Bluetooth option.

Smart Watch Music-Playing Capabilities – Apple Vs. Samsung Vs. Sony

Like the Apple Watch Series 6 (on Amazon), Apple products do not support playing music over the built-in speaker. Like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 (also on Amazon), some Samsung watches can play music over the speaker built into the watch but are limited by the quality issues we talked about earlier.

If you still want to listen to your music out loud, then you have some options. Mainly, you will want to go ahead and purchase a good Bluetooth speaker from Amazon like the Sony SRS-XB33, a great all-around speaker that will connect easily to most smartwatches waterproof. Now that you have the audio output figured out, there’s still the problem of how your smartwatch will store and access the songs. 

Using a Smartwatch for Music Without a Phone

Depending on what type of smartwatch you own, you can explore several options. Keep in mind that playing music without a phone is not a feature that all wearable devices share. To accomplish this task, you will need to either 1) have onboard storage for your songs and a way to play them, or 2) be able to use streaming apps independent of your phone using WiFi or cellular.

Fortunately, most popular brands will support one or the other, if not both. Like the Apple Watch, some products aim to make this process as easy as they can by pairing the devices very closely on a software level. Here are a couple of popular smartwatches and their available music options.

Apple Watch

If you are an Apple Music subscriber and have an Apple Watch Series 3 or higher, you can easily stream music over WiFi or cellular independent of your phone. To do this, all you need is access to the app on your smartwatch. If you aren’t an Apple Music subscriber, you can still sync your songs through the Apple Music app. Here is how you do that:

  1. Make sure your Apple Watch is charging and your iPhone is within range.
  2. On your phone, make sure you have Bluetooth enabled.
  3. On your phone, navigate towards the Apple Watch App and find my watch tab.
  4. Find music and tap it with your finger. Then you will want to hit the to add new music.
  5. Find the music you want to share, and then hit the + right next to it. Note: if you are having trouble syncing your music to your watch, you may need to make sure it is downloaded on your phone before starting the sync.

If you are a Spotify user, you will be delighted to find out that after several years of not supporting the standalone feature on watchOS, in November 2020, the support was finally added. This means that if you are a Spotify Premium subscriber, you can use your smartwatch to stream your favorite music and podcasts without the need to be tethered to an iPhone.

Samsung Galaxy Smart Watch

If you have a Galaxy Smartwatch, then you will be greeted with a somewhat similar setup to the Apple watch. To add music to your Samsung smartwatch, you have to follow the steps shown below:

  1. Make sure you have the Galaxy Wearables app downloaded to your phone. 
  2. Your music will first need to be added to your phone
  3. Once it has, open the Galaxy Wearables app and navigate towards the home screen.
  4. You should find a button to add content to your watch. Click that.
  5. Find the Add songs button.
  6. From here, you can either select songs individually or tap All.
  7. Tap done once you are finished.
  8. Once you open the music app on your watch, your new songs should be available. Note: If you own a Galaxy Fit, you won’t be able to do this.

One important thing to note is that Spotify can be used on a Samsung watch. The option to listen to music without being tethered to a smartphone has been available for a while and can be easily set up with just a few steps. You can even download songs to your watch and have them available for offline listening. 

Listening to music on your smartwatch is easy to do, provided you own the correct type of smartwatch from the proper manufacturer. This feature can make your life easier by allowing you not to be tethered to your phone when you want to listen to music or stream a podcast, which has some obvious advantages.

For the most part, manufacturers like Apple and Samsung have come up with easy and intuitive ways to either add music or stream music from your wearables without the need for too much extra. Make sure you have a good pair of Bluetooth headphones, though.

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