After a year of waiting, Wear OS 2 users are finally getting the YouTube Music app. The move, while overdue, is part of Google’s continuing efforts to make Wear OS 2 better while we wait for Wear OS 3 to roll out to non-Samsung Galaxy 4 smartwatches.
The app will roll out to certain smartwatches running Wear OS 2. That list includes the new Fossil Gen 6 (and its Michael Kors cousin), both GPS and cellular versions of Mobvoi’s Tick Watch Pro 3 GPS, as well as the TicWatch E3. To download, all you have to do is go to the Play Store app. If your Wear OS 2 watch isn’t included on the list, you’ll have to wait a bit longer. Google says the app will roll out to more devices later this year.
Previously, Wear OS had the Play Music app and no other real third-party music app besides Spotify. But the Spotify app was bare-bones and didn’t do much other than act as a glorified remote. When Google pulled the plug on Play Music in favor of YouTube Music last year, Wear OS 2 watches were left without a native music app. Google then released YouTube Music on the Apple Watch—but not Wear OS watches.
The new YouTube Music app has some minor quirks. According to Google’s user community post, the app allows users to “download songs to your watch and listen to music offline or workout to your favorite songs without carrying your phone.” Users get access to their playlists and songs, but as noted by 9to5 Google, it doesn’t appear that there’s a way to actually stream songs directly, they’ll have to rely on downloads. The other quirk is that the watch will need to be on its charger and connected to wifi to initiate offline downloads of music files. The lack of streaming isn’t ideal, but this is something users with GPS-only smartwatches are already familiar with. It just requires users to put a bit more forethought as to when they download playlists.
Wear OS 3 updates won’t roll out to eligible watches until mid-2022 at the earliest. It’s not perfect, but it’s much better than having none at all. Spotify also recently introduced offline downloads for Wear OS 2 users. By any count, going from next-to-zero options to having two viable apps is a marked improvement compared to a year ago. The transition to Wear OS 3 is bound to have a few more bumps down the road, but so far, it’s encouraging to see renewed interest in the Wear OS platform. Android users deserve it.