Wear OS: Users finally stream music on YouTube Music app

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

In a user community post, Google says you’ll be able to access 80 million songs via the app. On top of ad-free streaming, the app supports Google’s Smart Downloads feature that automatically refreshes songs downloaded to your Wear OS watch whenever it’s connected to Wi-Fi.

However, there are a few caveats. For instance, you have to be a YouTube Music Premium subscriber. Also, cellular streaming isn’t available for iOS Wear OS 2 users.

The road to a Wear OS YouTube Music app had many twists and turns. First, in 2020, Google announced it would shutter Google Play Music the only native music streaming app on Wear OS. And while users could migrate their playlists to YouTube Music, there wasn’t a readily available YouTube Music app for Wear OS. That essentially left Wear OS users with few alternatives if they wanted offline playback. (Spotify’s Wear OS app at the time was little more than a glorified remote control.) Then, to add insult to injury, Google prioritized creating a YouTube Music app for the Apple Watch.

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

The timing of this update isn’t surprising. Last week at its yearly I/O event, Google confirmed it’d launch the Pixel Watch in the fall. The company also highlighted more app options on Wear OS 3, including several within Google’s services, like Google Wallet and Google Home.

In addition, Google and Samsung also recently announced Google Assistant yet another long-awaited Wear OS 3 feature would finally arrive sometime this summer. So all could view this update as part of Google’s more extensive preparations for the Pixel Watch.

In January 2021, Google concluded its acquisition of wearables manufacturer Fitbit; upon its information of the purchase in November 2019. Google’s chief of hardware, Rick Osterloh, said it would be “a possibility to invest even more in Wear OS and introduce Made by Google wearable devices into the market.”

At Google I/O in May 2021, Google declared a substantial update to the platform, internally termed Wear OS 3.0. It incorporates a new visual composition inspired by Android 12 and Fitbit exercise tracking features. Google also revealed a partnership with Samsung Electronics, collaborating with Google to unify its Tizen-based smartwatch platform with Wear OS.

In addition, it has devoted itself to using Wear OS on its future smartwatch creations. The underlying codebase was also elevated to Android 11. WearOS 3.0 will be open to Wear OS devices operating Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 system on a chip. It will be an opt-in upgrade demanding a factory reset to install.

WearOS can synchronize forewarnings from a paired device and sustains voice control with the “OK Google” hotword and gesture-based input. In addition, WearOS incorporates Google services like the Google Assistant and Google mobile services (including Gmail, Google Maps, and GooglePay) and third-party watch apps from Play Store.

The user can lift from the watch face to access their notifications, down to access a short settings panel, from the left to view their personalized Google feed, and the right to view Google Fit. Thru Google Fit and similar applications, Wear OS supports ride and run track.

Furthermore, devices containing heart rate sensors can perform a reading on-demand or at intervals throughout the day. In addition, the watch can control media being played or streamed on paired devices.

WearOS (also known just as Wear and formerly Android Wear) is a version of Google’s Android operating system devised for smartwatches and other wearables. By pairing with smartphones running Android version 6.0 “Marshmallow” or newer or iOS rendition 10.0 or more unique with limited support from Google’s pairing application, WearOS incorporates Google Assistant technology and mobile notices into a smartwatch form factor.

WearOS supports Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi, 3G, LTE connectivity, and features and applications. Watch face styles hold round, square, and rectangular. Hardware manufacturing associates include Asus, Broadcom, Fossil, HTC, Intel, LG, MediaTek, Motorola, New Balance, Qualcomm, Samsung, Imagination Technologies, Huawei, Skagen, Polar, TAG Heuer, Suunto, and Mobvoi.

Canalys calculates that over 720,000 Android Wear smartwatches were shipped in the first six months. As of 15 March 2018, Wear OS kept between 10 and 50M application installations. WearOS accounted for 10% of the smartwatch market in 2015.