Spotify’s Apple Watch app lacks one big feature: you can’t directly stream songs or download them to play later. The Watch app’s just a remote control for Spotify on your phone, computer, or smart speaker. It kinda blows, but hopefully Spotify will add the features at some point soon because, with WatchOS 6, it’s now theoretically possible.
But until Spotify upgrades its app, the only choice is to make a compromise. Here are your options.
Keep Your iPhone Nearby
The Spotify Watch App is really good—if your iPhone is nearby. You can use it to select tracks, control playback (even with Siri), and do everything else you could want. Except, of course, actually play music.
You have to use Bluetooth headphones with your Apple Watch anyway, so if you’re going for a run, ride, hike, or gym workout, stash your phone in a small out-of-the-way bag or pocket. Sure, it’s not ideal, but at least it means you can still listen to all your favorite Spotify playlists.
If you really don’t want to keep your iPhone on hand, then you need to make some bigger compromises.
Try Apple Music
Unsurprisingly, Apple Music is by far the best-integrated streaming service with the Apple Watch. Both the Music and Radio apps are fully featured and work as you’d expect. Download tracks to your Apple Watch, and they’re available for offline playback whenever you want. Or, if you have an LTE watch, just play and stream music as normal.
The downside of this is that Apple Music isn’t Spotify. It doesn’t have your existing library, listening history, saved songs, or custom-generated playlists. It’s an alright music streaming service—but it’s not the one you’re currently using.
But that could change. Apple Music offers a three-month free trial to new subscribers and occasionally offers a one-month free trial to people who’ve tried it before but didn’t sign up.
After the free trial, Apple Music costs $9.99/month, the same as Spotify, so it’s probably a bit silly to keep paying for two services that do almost exactly the same thing. It’s up to you to decide whether streaming and offline playback on your Watch is worth switching streaming services.
If you do decide to move, check out Soundiiz. It’s a free service that can port your Spotify playlists and songs to Apple Music, so you don’t have to start again totally from scratch.
Go Old School and Buy MP3s or Rip CDs
Like most people I know, I’ve moved exclusively to streaming music. I grew up just as the iPod was taking off so I never really had a gigantic CD collection, but I did have a big MP3 library. If you’re in the same boat, it may be time to break it out again.
Spotify is very convenient, but if you only want to listen to music while you work out, you don’t need your full library. There’s no reason you can’t go old school and curate a small exclusive collection of dedicated workout tracks on your Watch. I’ve genuinely enjoyed revisiting my old MP3 collection and putting together a playlist of tracks I used to run to about 15 years ago. It’s a serious throwback!
The simplest way to make playlists for your Apple Watch is with the Music app on a Mac or iPhone, or iTunes on a PC. Then, to sync the playlists to your Apple Watch, open the Watch app on your iPhone and go to Music, add Music, and select the playlists you want available. Pop your Apple Watch on its charger and let it do its thing. It might take a while for the tracks to transfer, so it’s best to leave it overnight.
The Apple Watch is continuing to mature as a platform, so there’s some hope that over the next year or two Spotify will release a fully featured app. Until then, you have to decide what compromise works best for you.