Though the Apple Watch is now in its fourth generation, music playback is still a struggle if you’re not an Apple Music subscriber.
If you’re are, you’re able to access music storage and streaming directly from the company’s smartwatch, but those who aren’t – like Spotify users – are left in a music-less abyss when it comes to listening from the wrist.
We’ve seen Samsung and Garmin both cater for Spotify subscribers through a dedicated smartwatch app, but there’s still nothing from Apple, despite consistent rumors that one is on the way.
Read this: How to add and play music from the Apple Watch
Until that day, you’re likely to be searching for a workaround. Well, below, we’ll be giving you the details on your options for using Spotify on the Apple Watch. Be warned that there’s no golden ticket here, though, and things will remain pretty limited on this front until Apple starts playing nice with its rival streamer.
What you can do right now
It’s not that using Spotify is a complete non-starter if you’re an Apple Watch owner, it’s just that the integration is limited. Right now, you’re restricted to just basic music control, which is very different to the experience of Apple Music subscribers.
So, if you’re playing music from the Spotify app on your phone (whether that’s simply through the phone itself, an external speaker or some Bluetooth headphones), you’ll get the ‘Now Playing’ widget at the top of the home screen on the Watch. Once you tap through, it’ll pop up with what’s playing, as shown in image above.
From here, you can pause, skip and rewind and toggle the volume using either the screen or the Digital Crown. You can also long-press to bring up an AirPlay to control where the music is beaming to.
This essentially acts as another way to access the music on what would be the home screen of the iPhone, and unfortunately that means you can access standalone music or your wider library.
Is there a solution to the problem?
As we mentioned up top, there’s no bulletproof solution here, since Spotify doesn’t provide a software development kit (SDK) for direct music playback on the Watch.
So, what about the third-party apps? Well, again, it’s not ideal. Seemingly every app developer that’s looked to find a workaround over the past couple of years has, if you read between the lines on forums, been discouraged by Spotify from doing so.
You’re going to have to accept there’s no way to simply port what you’ve got in your library, and the next-best option is to find something that can at least help you have a bit more control over your music. After all, while there’s many third-party apps within the Watch App Store claiming to be your solution to Spotify streaming on the Watch, pretty much all of them are just glorified versions of Apple’s ‘Now Playing’ screen.
Two options for you to try: Serato Pyro and SpotWatch Remote for Spotify. The latter is a paid-for app that offers to give Premium members streaming from the wrist. If you’re paying for the music service, you’ll be able to control what’s currently playing, as well as actually pick and choose songs from different artists, albums or listen to playlists. Again, this isn’t the smoking gun, and it’s quite a buggy experience, but it’s worth exploring.
Serato Pyro, on the other hand, is a little different. Though this app specialises in automatically mixing playlists for you, essentially acting as a personal DJ, it allows you to sync over your created playlists from Spotify to the Watch. You’ll still need to remain connected to your phone, but you can at least select different songs from the wrist here.
Is an official Spotify app coming soon?
This is the million dollar question, and, unfortunately, we simply don’t know the answer. Spotify’s silence on the matter is deafening – particularly as it continues to partner with Apple’s rivals – and we suspect more and more people are finding themselves switching over to Apple Music as a result.
Of course, Apple is notorious for dragging its heels when it comes to approving Spotify updates on iOS, so it’s fair to assume this is an extension of that attitude to its rival.
The lack of word on the subject is particularly frustrating for users given the fact that there was big rumblings around 18 months ago that an official app was in the works, after Spotify hired one of the third-party developers looking to build a workaround, Snowy.
That developer, Andrew Chang, posted back in April 2017: “I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be working closely with Spotify to bring Snowy to the Apple Watch as part of an official Spotify app.”
“Spotify’s powerful iOS SDK made it possible to develop Snowy, but I can’t wait to take things to the next level with the expertise and tools available at Spotify. While I can’t give any estimates as to when it’ll be available, you can rest assured that a Spotify Apple Watch companion app is in the pipeline.”
We’re not sure how long that pipeline is, but the official app is still stuck in it. The recent integration with Garmin watches perhaps suggest that more integrations could be on the way, but there’s simply way to know at this stage. Stay tuned, though, as we’ll be updating this guide with all the details as we receive them.
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