YouTube Music app finally lets you stream music on Wear OS – but limits iOS in one key way

Youtube music
(Image credit: YouTube)

YouTube Music on Wear OS is finally able to stream music over LTE and Wi-Fi.

Previously, you had to download an entire playlist to your smartwatch in order to listen to music. In a recent community post, Google explained that users will now have access to over 80 million songs and thousands of playlists on the YouTube Music platform.

As part of the update, the app now comes with Smart Downloads, which refreshes downloaded songs every time your device connects to Wi-Fi. This way, your music isn’t interrupted as it switches connections.

A new YouTube Music tile will be added to Wear OS for quick access to recent playlists or the browsing page. On top of that, the revamped software will offer tailored-made playlists according to your history.

This all sounds like great news and are good additions to Wear OS, but there is a pretty big caveat attached. According to Google, you must be a YouTube Music Premium subscriber. Otherwise, you can’t use these features and are stuck with the old method of downloading playlists. 

Wear OS on iOS supports the Wi-Fi streaming capability but lacks LTE support. Google didn’t state if or when LTE connectivity will be making its way to iOS. The YouTube Music update is just starting to roll out to Wear OS. Instructions on how to stream music are available on Google’s community page.

Analysis: is it too late?

Seen as neglected by Google, Wear OS is getting a ton of new features and some new hardware in the near future. Recently, Google revealed the Pixel Watch during IO 2022. Not much is officially known about the Pixel Watch other than a vague launch window of "fall 2022" (so September-Novbe and exclusivity to Android devices. 

The device was highly anticipated in the lead-up to its reveal with several leaks occurring in the weeks prior to the announcement.

Also, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 will be getting many of the new software updates seen at IO 2022. These changes include the revamped Google Wallet, which now has support for payment cards, and connectivity with the new Google Assistant. 

While it’s good to see Google take more interest in smartwatches and Wear OS, it begs the question if this wave of support is too late. 

None of the smartwatch brands like Fossil will be getting the new Google features, as far as we know. Meanwhile, Apple Watch users number over 100 million and growing. If Google wants a bigger stake in the smartwatch industry, it has its work cut out for it.

Cesar Cadenas

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.