The Apple Watch is great for many things, but listening to music or podcasts is still problematic. Apple haven’t been able to solve what, on the face of it, seems like a simple challenge: synchronising content to the watch.
While you can now stream music and podcasts, theoretically removing the need to synchronise media, in practise many people (such as myself) live in areas where 4G signal is poor, simply don’t want to, or own a watch without a data plan.
The solution Apple seems to have proposed is to simply mark content you want to be stored on the watch, and let them do the rest, at their time of choosing. This leads to random frustrations because inevitably this “smart synchronisation” doesn’t sync the right content at the right time. Sometimes transfers only happen when the watch is plugged in, other times they seemingly get stuck and drain the battery right down. Due to the fact that watchOS is very restricted in what it can do, there is no room for third party applications to try and do better either. The experience of setting off for a run only to find the latest episode of your favourite podcast isn’t available is surely familiar to any Apple Watch owner.
What I’d like to see is a way to from the watch itself, select a song, album or podcast and have it transferred over from my phone there and then. No “pending”, no waiting for a charger to be attached – just do it right now, so I can go for my run, and please Apple – show a progress bar while you’re at it – like iTunes did in 2001. If having a power source is really needed, then tell me to charge the watch there and then, and instead of nightstand mode, show a progress bar while the watch is on the charger. This functionality needs to be made available to third party applications such as Overcast too.
While I’d love for synchronisation to be automatic and happen at night without me knowing, in practise this doesn’t seem to work. I missed many buses as a teenager waiting for my iPod to sync and while I don’t take the bus as much these days, it’s somewhat reassuring to know things haven’t changed that much as I sit and wait for my Apple Watch to sync before I leave the house. The difference is my iPod would generally work first time.