PSA: Don’t Upgrade to WatchOS 4 if you use your Watch to Control Music Playback

If you use your Apple Watch as a remote to control your phone’s music app, do not upgrade to WatchOS 4.

This has actually been in the WatchOS 4 betas since the very first one, but I did not catch it until very recently because I could not be bothered to load the WatchOS betas on my Apple Watches since in my experience, they tend to be unstable and will “brick” your Watch if something happens during the installation/updating process.

To clarify what is going on here, Apple has made delibrate changes to the Music app in the Apple Watch in WatchOS 4, such that you are no longer able to select the source of the music controlled through the app.

In other words;

This.

The above function is now gone and you can no longer select the music source between the phone and the watch.

Why does this matter?

There is only 8GB of storage in the Apple Watch, out of which only a portion of the storage space can be used for syncing music into the Watch. Therefore it does not make much sense to sync music into your Watch, but rather as a controller for your phone’s music in the situations when you have no physical access to your phone.

Me myself, I love (and still do) controlling my phone’s music, selecting the specific song/artist/playlist through the Watch during peak hours in the mornings and evenings when I am usually not afforded the space to put my hand into my pocket to pull out my 7 Plus but still want fine grain control of the music playing in my Beats X (that is connected to my phone).

With WatchOS 4, you can now only play music that is synced to your Apple Watch or, with LTE service from your Apple Watch Series 3 Cellular, stream (and PAY FOR) Apple Music. So it is either I sync a (very small) bunch of music into my Watch, force the Beats X to connect to them rather than connect to the 7 Plus, and control my music from there, or I control my music solely from the phone and resign to just play/pause/skip functions on the Apple Watch’s Now Playing app in WatchOS 4. Which is useless since I have the same controls on my Beats X.

Having bought a launch day Apple Watch (on the worldwide launch day, not Singapore’s), I have seen WatchOS progress from the crap it was on Day 1, to the almost-perfect WatchOS 3. Seems like with WatchOS 4 they are taking some steps forward (like the recently announced heartrate monitor app improvements) and some steps backwards. Kevin Lynch has always been an idiot (and I believe the sole reason behind why progress on WatchOS was so slow and so filled with bad ideas) and it shows.

And this is not everything that is bad about the Apple Watch this October. I have a much larger rant about the Series 3 that was just announced, but I will leave that for a later post.

Some forum postings regarding this issue can be found below;

WatchOS4 totally ruined the Watch for me !! what the hell apple !!
and
Watch OS 4 Beta 1 – Music app doesn’t connect to iPhone library
and
Reddit: Support QuestionCan I still choose my music source with watchOS 4?
among others.

  • Ben Dunton

    I am running Watch OS 4 GM. Have Airpods connected to my phone and controlling playback with my watch. It appears the UI automatically changes to phone if you are playing from phone.

  • Are you able to select a specific song, playlist, artist, while using the Watch? Or can you only control the playback through Play/Seek/Skip/Pause?

  • Bruce

    Unfortunately I found out about this change too late and now have WatchOS 4… Much like yourself I regularly used my watch to control the music playing on my phone (I have a spinal injury and spend a lot of time laying down with my phone out of reach).
    Extremely disappointed with this change and definately would not have upgraded if I’d known beforehand.
    I’m usually really cautious with upgrades and am now kicking myself for being an early adopter.


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