Wear OS users can finally stream music to the YouTube Music app

After a long wait, Wear OS users can now use the YouTube Music app to stream their tunes over Wi-Fi and LTE. And, as a bonus, users can also add the app as a widget for quicker access to recently played playlists or the YouTube Music browse page.

In a user community post, Google says you will be able to access 80 million songs through the app. In addition to ad-free streaming, the app supports Google’s Smart Downloads feature which automatically refreshes downloaded songs on your Wear OS watch whenever it’s connected to Wi-Fi. There are a few caveats. For example, you must be subscribed to YouTube Music Premium. Also, cellular streaming is not available for iOS Wear OS 2 users.

The road to a Wear OS YouTube Music app has seen many twists and turns. In 2020, Google announced that it would shut down Google Play Music, the only native music streaming app on Wear OS. And while users could migrate their playlists to YouTube Music, there was no YouTube Music app readily available for Wear OS. This essentially left Wear OS users with few alternatives if they wanted offline reading. (Spotify‘s Wear OS app at the time was little more than a glorified remote control.) To add insult to injury, Google then prioritized building a YouTube Music app for the Apple Watch.

YouTube Music didn’t launch on Wear OS until Samsung launched the Galaxy Watch 4 range last summer – and, at first, it was a Wear OS 3 exclusive. Wear OS 2 watches powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 4100 chips about a month later. That said, it was limited to offline reading only. This latest update closes the loop, making YouTube Music a full-fledged music streaming app for smartwatches.

The timing of this update is not surprising. Last week at its annual I/O event, Google confirmed that it would launch the Pixel Watch in the fall. The company also highlighted more app options on Wear OS 3, including several in Google’s own suite of services, like Google Wallet and Google Home. Google and Samsung also recently announced that Google Assistant – another long-awaited feature in Wear OS 3 – will finally arrive this summer. All things considered, you may see this update as part of Google’s larger preparations for the Pixel Watch.

Victor L. Jones