One of the early promises of an Apple Watch with phone-free, LTE service was the ability to stream music directly from the watch itself — only the Apple Watch Series 3 didn’t launch with that promised feature. Now, more than a month after launch, it’s arrived.
Notifications just started going out for the official version of watchOS 4.1 software, which includes, among other updates, music streaming for Apple Watch Series 3s with LTE. This update had been rumored before; not only was the software expected to arrive before the end of the month (cutting it close there), but a developer had leaked the software release notes last week. CNET also had early access to these music streaming features.
There are two apps for music streaming on the Watch, Music and Radio
As CNET points out, using music streaming on the Watch requires getting comfortable with using Siri for most of your music queries. And there are some, ahem, complications that arise from having two separate native music apps on the watch: in addition to streaming from the Music app, you can also stream from a new “Radio” app that appears on the Watch (Music will run you $10 per month; Radio content is free).
And not surprisingly, this only works with Apple’s own music streaming service — you can’t stream Spotify or Google Play Music directly from the Apple Watch.
Until we’ve had the chance to use streaming music on the Watch ourselves, we won’t be able to give it our full assessment. But with the watchOS 4.0.1. update that appeared to fix the connectivity issues I experienced during my review process; and with this new music streaming option; the Apple Watch Series 3 is now practically the Watch it’s supposed to be.
According to the release notes, other WatchOS 4.1 software updates include:
Sync fitness data with GymKit-enabled treadmills, ellipticals, stair steppers, and indoor bikes for more accurate distance, pace, and energy burn metrics
Ability to disconnect from a Wi-Fi network in Control Center for Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular)
Fixes an issue for Apple Watch Series 1 and later where Heart Rate notifications were delivered when the feature was not enabled
Addresses an issue that prevented Apple Watch (1st generation) from charging for some users
And more. That ability to disconnect from a WiFi network is also notable, because it means that if users are still experiencing issues with the LTE-equipped Watch switching from Bluetooth to WiFi to LTE, the wearer can now manually turn off WiFi. It’s not the user-friendliest fix, but it’s a fix.