How to download music to your smartwatch and stream over Bluetooth offline

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It’s probably well understood that smartwatches are mainly a convenience. They serve as an extension of your smartphone, and the dependency means that they can’t really do much on their own. However, there’s a neat trick in Android Wear that sidesteps that fact.

Because smartwatches have their own storage reserves, you can actually store music on the watch. Why would you want to do that? Well, think about how cool it’d be to stream music directly from the watch to Bluetooth headphones, all without the phone or internet signal. We can’t forget that despite the limited functionality, the watch is its own computing power, with a capable chipset and radios.

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This capability is made possible by the integration of Google Play Music in Android Wear. Within the watch’s Play Music app, you’re given the option to “sync” your saved music from the cloud and to play it from either the phone or watch. Let’s walk through the steps to making it happen!

1. Turn on “Download to Android Wear” setting in Play Music app

The first step in the process is to enable the watch’s independent music mode. It’s a setting within the Play Music app called “Download to Android Wear”. Toggling it opens up Android Wear’s music download manager.

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Once you’re all set up, this area is were you’ll specify what music goes to the watch or not. We’ll go over that next.

2. Select the music and sync

AW-Music-17Something to be aware of is as soon as you enable the “Download to Android Wear” setting, the system will jump the gun and start to throw any music that you currently have saved on your phone over to the watch. This is an oversight of the software, because you probably don’t want that. Chances are that you have more offline music on your phone than can fit on the watch.

For instance, I only have 2.1GB of space available on my Moto 360. So I need to be really selective about the music I choose to be on the watch. My advice is to immediately stop the syncing upon enabling the feature.

What Play Music should do instead is not sync anything on initiation, and let the user manually select what content goes to the watch. That’s just the only way, so that you can be crucial about which favorite tunes matter most as you get close to running out of space.

Annoyingly, to stop the initial syncing, you have to uncheck each album that it automatically tries to download. There’s an action icon to the right of each album, which displays the progress of the sync. Simply tap it to deselect the album and you’ll see the item grey out. The available storage space estimation will also update with each interaction, so you’ll be able to how much more music you can download as you go along.

There are a couple important notes about the syncing process:

  1. For some reason, the watch will not sync if the battery is less than 75%.
  2. Downloading music onto the watch is a slow process. One album took me around 10-15 minutes. So you’ll need time and patience to get all your music on there.

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3. Pair Bluetooth headset to watch and start listening

After your syncing is completed, you now have to get your watch and Bluetooth headphones communicating. This is pretty easy. The system pings you to connect your Bluetooth headset as soon as you try to play music that is on the watch. Hit up the Play Music app on the watch and select “Play on Wear”.

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You’ll see an alert pop up that tells you to go into the watch’s Bluetooth settings. The next step should be familiar if you’ve ever paired devices before.

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That’s about it! You can now start streaming and controlling the music playback from the watch, offline. You’ll see your stored albums within the Play Music app. Just swipe to cycle through them.

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 Happy listening! Enjoy the future of audio playback a little early 🙂

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