During Google’s Developer Keynote on Tuesday, Spotify’s product lead for cars and wearables teased an exciting new feature coming to Wear devices: the ability for Spotify’s 356 million users to download music directly to their watch and listen to it when they don’t want to carry their phone (via XDA Developers). The feature isn’t included in the recently released redesign, but Spotify says it’s being worked on.
The news coincided with Google’s announcement that Wear OS and Samsung’s Tizen would be merged. During Google’s I/O keynote on Tuesday, the company promised that the updated OS would bring faster performance and longer battery life to Wear OS watches, which are current issues.
The YouTube Music app is also getting an update, which will allow users to download music directly to Wear devices, allowing them to listen without having to use their phones.
In many ways, Google’s smartwatch OS lags behind Apple’s, including offline music listening. For years, the Apple Watch has been able to play songs downloaded from Apple Music while not connected to a phone, to the point where Google decided to release its YouTube Music app for the Apple Watch ahead of its own Wear OS. When Gizmodo published an article in November about how to listen to music on smartwatches without a phone, its Wear OS recommendation was essentially an app that acted as an MP3 player, requiring the transfer of locally stored files.
Wear OS users haven’t had many options for offline music since Google Play Music was shut down. But now, Google’s Wear watches could potentially overtake the Apple Watch when it comes to offline Spotify playback — you currently need an active internet connection to stream Spotify to one of Apple’s pricier cellular Apple Watch models, a feature added late last year, to get your Spotify on an Apple Watch without carrying around your phone. Other watches, such as Garmin’s flagship Forerunner sports watches and some Samsung Galaxy wearables, have had offline Spotify playback in the past.
In Google’s Wear-specific session from I/O, you can see the Spotify and YouTube Music app reveals for yourself. In the video below, the YouTube Music announcement begins at 2:38, and the Spotify demo begins at 12:50.