The brand new Apple Music streaming service seems like a natural for the Apple Watch, yet the service and the device don’t seem very integrated right now.
The use case is pretty obvious. I’m at the gym exercising. I don’t have (and don’t want) my phone with me. I’m wearing my Watch, which is connected to wireless headphones via Bluetooth. And I want to stream music that’s right for my workout using my Apple Music subscription.
There’s already some limited Apple Music functionality on the Watch today. With the arrival of Apple Music June 30 it became possible to assemble playlists from both streamed music and your own collection, then sync them over to your Watch. But you can keep only one music playlist on your Apple Watch at a time, and audiobooks and podcasts aren’t compatible. You can see Apple’s help page on the subject here.
(See our detailed Apple Music hands-on review.)
This is a definite improvement, but with the arrival of the first major upgrade to the Watch’s brains — watchOS 2 — the device will be able to connect directly with a Wi-Fi network. No more dependence on a paired iPhone’s Wi-Fi connection. This should be the catalyst for a major expansion of Apple Music functionality on the Watch. Hopefully.
In short, I want my Watch to connect with the trusted gym Wi-Fi service right when I get there. I want to be able to start Apple Music streams and order up just the right music for my workout according to my whims while I’m at the gym, not at home beforehand.
I want to be able to form streams and playlists from both my own music stored in the cloud and from any of the music I gain access to with my ten bucks a month.
I want to see a decent representation of the New section in Apple Music on the Watch so that I can choose to listen to playlists curated by the editors of Pitchfork or Rolling Stone.
In that same section of the app, Apple editors suggest numerous situational playlists, and one of them is called “Running.” It contains high-energy dance music to keep you pumped up. I want to be able to select and control that stream while I’m running on the treadmill or using the StairMaster.
I want to be able to listen to Beats 1 radio via Wi-Fi at the gym or at Starbucks without my phone. It would also be nice to dial up older segments of shows I’ve missed. Like the Eminem interview! (Not.)
It would also be nice to have some innovative music controls on my wrist. I’d like to be able to skip forward in a playlist with a quick flip of the wrist while I’m on the treadmill at the gym or in the middle of a run outside.
The Watch’s digital crown will be a crucial tool for scrolling through song lists, making selections, and controlling volume level.
And the Siri personal assistant will be even more important. Siri has proven to be fairly versatile for calling up music on the phone, but Siri on the Watch might be a different story. In my tests of Siri on the Watch, she proved to be a bit daft in some crucial areas. Ideally, Siri would be even more capable on the Watch than on the phone, because the Watch’s limited screen space severely limits the effectiveness of visual controls.
As more and more functions, such as Apple Pay, become possible on the Watch sans iPhone, and as more people get used to Apple Music, Watch owners will expect to have broad music functionality on the wrist.
Hopefully, that expanded functionality will show up with the arrival of the first major upgrade of the Watch’s OS — watchOS 2 — this fall.
I asked Apple if this will come to pass, but the company isn’t saying much on the subject right now.