How to use Android Wear's new offline music and Bluetooth headphone features

android wear offline music beauty 2

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Google latest Android Wear update lets you use your smartwatch as a standalone audio player, with no smartphone tethering required. But how, exactly, do you get music tracks into your watch’s onboard storage? And how do you pair your watch to Bluetooth headphones or earbuds? Google doesn’t have clear documentation in the Android Wear app, so I'll show you how to do it here.

First, make sure you’re running Android Wear 4.4W.2. (You can find this system info by going to Settings>About on your watch.) Assuming you’re running the latest OS, your next step is to make sure you’re running the latest version of Play Music on your phone. Once you’ve verified or updated your music app, go into your Android Wear app, and under Settings, hit Resync Apps.

Now go back to your watch, and launch Play Music—you can simply issue an “OK Google” voice prompt and then say “play music” to launch the app. You’ll be greeted by a message that says you don’t have any music downloaded to your watch:

android wear music download

You don’t have any music on your watch yet, but don’t worry. You’re just getting started.

Swiping down on the interface shown above, the text explains you need to enable “Download to Android Wear” in your phone’s Play Music settings, and provides a button to directly connect to this setting. Hit the button, and go to the Settings menu that magically opens on your phone. Now check the box under Download to Android Wear

Next step: Download music to your watch! It’s a simple matter of going to an individual track or album in Play Music, and hitting the download icon in the track display. I’ve circled that icon in red here:

play music download

See the download button I’ve circled in red? Hit it to download an album to your watch.

When you’re loading up your watch with tracks from Play Music—and, remember, your watch’s total capacity is 4GB for everything—you’ll see the following activity on your Wear device: 

android wear loading music

Remember: You have far less than 4GB on your watch for music storage.

For the purpose of this article, I loaded just a small selection of tracks. If you add more than just a few albums, you’ll overload your storage capacity, and be waiting a long time for songs to transfer over Bluetooth. But once songs have moved over, you’ll see an interface like the one below for individual tracks.

android wear play music track interface

It’s always somewhat dazzling to see color photos on your Wear watch.

Swiping left on this interface exposes some player controls. First there’s a shuffle command. Next you’ll find a play list for all the songs in an album. But how will you actually listen to a track? You’ll need to pair Bluetooth headphones or earbuds, as the watch doesn’t have a headphone jack. Hit the play button of any track, and you’ll see the following alert:

android wear pair to headphones

It’s nice that Android Wear walks you through all the steps directly from the watch interface.

After you hit the teal button in the image above, you’ll be dropped into a Bluetooth pairing interface. Assuming your headphones or earbuds are in pairing mode, you’ll see them in the list of available devices. Choose them to pair, and as long as Bluetooth doesn’t let you down, you’ll be off to the races.

Just remember that when your watch is paired with your earbuds, it won’t be paired with your phone. But that’s OK because offline music playback is just that: You’re supposed to use this feature for scenarios like exercise sessions when you don’t want to lug around a big, heavy phone in your pocket.

android wear track list

This is how Play Music renders track lists.

Using Play Music on your watch is relatively intuitive: Swipe up and down to scroll through artists. Swipe left and right to access an album’s track list. When you want to remove tracks from your watch, go back to Play Music on your phone, find those album files, hit that download icon again, and remove the tracks. It’s as simple as that.

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