Apple Watch is getting a new dedicated Radio app so you can stream playlists, news stations, and the always live Beats 1 Radio, all without an iPhone.
The expensive, but definitely not pointless, Apple Watches have long been criticised for their requirement of an iPhone to do… pretty much anything. Apple’s new radio app for the Apple Watch though finally gives you an excuse to wear your boutique wrist computer without requiring a smartphone that makes it redundant.
The new radio app is separate from the music app on Apple Watch, unlike on other iOS devices. The app will allow you stream news stations for free as well as Apple’s flagship online radio station, Beats 1. If you want to listen to the music channels, beyond the music played on Beats 1, you will need to be subscribed to Apple Music, Apple’s music streaming service in the vain of Spotify.
The new app presents you with all available stations shown by cover in a scroll-able list that uses the ‘Digital Crown’. It will probably look familiar to those who have used the Watch’s native Music app with a design resembling their synced playlists and albums display sections.
From the app you can go straight into a live stream of Apple’s well renowned 24-7, online station Beats 1, which you can select to remain at the top of the list. Below that will be the comprehensive list of radio stations available to tune into which you can also choose to remain at the top of the app so you can tune straight back in when you enter the app. The Radio app works with Apple Watch’s Now Playing app too so its super easy to access the controls and see what is actually ‘Now Playing’.
When you start streaming your station of choice the app gives you a prompt to decide where to play the audio. When it’s playing you can use the Digital Crown to control the volume, stop the stream on-screen and, if listening to music rather than a station (’cause stations are live ya know), skip forward and backwards through tracks.
The app was introduced in a developer preview of Apple Watch’s 4.1 watchOS update. In addition to the Radio app, watchOS 4.1 also improves the Music app by displaying all content in a user’s iCloud Music Library, including tracks downloaded or recently accessed via Apple Music, songs purchased on the iTunes Store, and songs matched with iTunes Match.