How to Use the Podcasts App in watchOS 5

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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watchOS 5 introduces a new Podcasts app for Apple Watch, which is designed to let you listen to your favorite podcasts on the watch without the need for the iPhone.

Streaming podcasts works over Wi-Fi or a cellular connection, and you can also use the Podcasts app to play podcasts from a connected iPhone if desired.

Using the Podcasts App on Apple Watch

As with Apple Music, when using Podcasts on the Apple Watch, you will need to have a pair of AirPods or other Bluetooth headphones paired to your Apple Watch.

Once Bluetooth headphones are paired, you will need to tap on the Podcasts icon, which looks like a radio antenna on a field of purple, much like the Podcasts app icon on the iPhone. You can also ask Siri to open it.

The Podcasts app will open up to the most recent podcast among the podcasts you're subscribed to, and you can play it by tapping on it.


Music controls are available by scrolling with the Digital Crown or swiping and tapping on "Now Playing."

Viewing Your Library

To view your library of subscribed podcasts, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Podcasts app.
  2. Scroll down with the Digital Crown or Swipe to get to the list of app options.
  3. Choose "Library."
The Library section of the Podcasts app will let you see all of the different podcasts that you subscribe to in the "Shows" section, and individual episodes in the "Episodes" section.

Scroll through each section using a swipe on the Apple Watch's face or the Digital Crown.

Adding New Podcast Subscriptions

To add new podcast subscriptions on the Apple Watch, you'll need to know the name of the podcast you want to add. You can subscribe using Siri, with a command like "Hey Siri, subscribe to Reply All" or Hey Siri, subscribe to The Daily podcast."

If you would rather listen to a podcast or a specific podcast without subscribing to it, you can ask Siri to play it with commands like "Hey Siri, Play Reply All," or "Hey Siri, Play episode 21 of The Daily."


Outside of subscribing to new podcasts using Siri, there is no way to browse through podcast content on the Apple Watch. If you want to find new podcasts to listen to, you'll need to use the Podcasts app on iPhone.

Offline Usage

Podcasts that are listed in the episodes section of the Podcasts app are downloaded to the Apple Watch and can be listened to even without a cellular or WiFi connection. According to Apple, podcasts are downloaded when the Apple Watch is connected to power and placed near the iPhone.

After an episode has been played, it will be removed from the Apple Watch to make room for new episodes.

Controlling Podcasts on iPhone From Apple Watch

If your phone is connected to your Apple Watch and there's a podcast playing, you'll see an "On Phone" section in the Apple Watch Podcasts app and there will be a little red icon on the Apple Watch's face.


If you tap on the "On iPhone" section in the Podcasts app, you'll see options for "Now Playing" with controls for the current content, a "Listen Now" section that shows recent podcasts, a "Shows" section that displays all of the shows you subscribe to, an "Episodes" section that displays all of the available episodes, and a "Stations" section that displays Podcasts stations created on iPhone.

Article Link: How to Use the Podcasts App in watchOS 5
 

name99

macrumors 6502a
Jun 21, 2004
643
374
But this is still ONLY podcasts, right? Only way to get *your* spoken word content (lectures, audiobooks, whatever) onto the device is to create your own podcast station and all the hassle that entails?
 

name99

macrumors 6502a
Jun 21, 2004
643
374
Am I reading this right? It’s only streaming? So if I don’t have a cellular Apple Watch I still need my bloody phone!
Apple appear to have in mind that they will "automatically" sync audio with the watch so it's cached on the watch; but they seem to make it impossible (or very clumsy) to force a sync of the phone to the watch.
(There is already something similar with Music where you can, in principle, sync a playlist from your Phone to be cached on your Watch; but everything about this feature is so moronically designed that it's practically unusable.)

The thinking behind it seems astonishingly stupid, like they simply cannot imagine that users might be pissed off if they cannot be SURE that their content is on the watch, and then run out of content while away from their phone.

To me it looks like one of these crazy Apple ideas where some idiot designer loses all contact with reality. Usually they fix them (eventually) but we may have a year or two of this idiocy before sanity prevails.
 

jclo

Editor
Staff member
Dec 7, 2012
1,534
2,986
California
Can you download podcasts to the watch to play without an iPhone or cellular connection? This post does not seem to say so.
Sorry, I'll add a section. It does appear to download podcasts onto the Apple Watch so that they can be listened to without a connection. I was able to listen to saved podcasts in my episodes list with airplane mode turned on. I don't see a way to force a download, but it downloads new episodes when connected to power.
 
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KeepCalmPeople

macrumors 65816
Sep 5, 2012
1,288
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San Francisco Bay Area, California
I’m disappointed that you have to be within range of your phone AND on a charger in order to download podcasts.
Typical Apple. My watch has Wi-Fi AND cellular Internet connectivity, but I will not be able to download podcasts using either.
 

sjtidy

macrumors member
Oct 29, 2011
49
10
(There is already something similar with Music where you can, in principle, sync a playlist from your Phone to be cached on your Watch; but everything about this feature is so moronically designed that it's practically unusable.)
How is it unusable? It’s very easy to add playlists to sync, and clearly shows whether they’ve completed or not.

I’m disappointed that you have to be within range of your phone AND on a charger in order to download podcasts.
Typical Apple. My watch has Wi-Fi AND cellular Internet connectivity, but I will not be able to download podcasts using either.
Wouldn’t it kill the battery downloading potentially large files like that?
 

matrix07

macrumors 603
Jun 24, 2010
5,177
1,701
Is there a way to play one podcast then go to another one & tap “Play Later” to make a queue like on iPhone?

What if I tap the first podcast I saw and listen to it until it’s finished, will the watch play the next one (podcast, not episode) automatically or I need to go to the next podcast myself?
 

JimmyHook

macrumors 6502a
Apr 7, 2015
616
1,319
It seems Apple balanced what is easy in a tiny screen versus battery life. So many false things in the comments... I don’t even want to start. Yes, you can create your own audio files and sync them. Yes, you can save podcasts to the watch without “streaming”. You all need help
 

northernbaldy

macrumors 6502a
Jan 13, 2010
758
118
the north, UK
It seems Apple balanced what is easy in a tiny screen versus battery life. So many false things in the comments... I don’t even want to start. Yes, you can create your own audio files and sync them. Yes, you can save podcasts to the watch without “streaming”. You all need help
You need help!
 
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T-Bob

macrumors 6502a
Oct 23, 2013
606
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How is it unusable? It’s very easy to add playlists to sync, and clearly shows whether they’ve completed or not.


Wouldn’t it kill the battery downloading potentially large files like that?
It only downloads when on charger. But for some reason has to side load off phone instead of being able to get it itself. Hopefully next version of watch will be able to do this.
 

name99

macrumors 6502a
Jun 21, 2004
643
374
How is it unusable? It’s very easy to add playlists to sync, and clearly shows whether they’ve completed or not.
Have you tried to use the existing Music app to support LONG-FORM audio, not just Music? I have little interest in Music on my Watch, but I can tell you that trying to use the Music app to support Spoken Word is endless frustration. You begin by marking the spoken work in iTunes not as AudioBook but as Music, then sync a place from iTunes to your Phone. Then sync the phone to your watch. I don't know if it's because the files are longer than normal music files (eg two or three hours, not a few minutes) but the syncing seems to constantly stop and you have to go into the iOS app to restart it.

Then, after all that hassle, you discover it's basically pointless because the Apple Watch refuses to remember your location in long audio. The slightest minor change to the Watch (certainly rebooting it, but I think also just when RAM runs low and it has to kill the Music app to make space in RAM) means your location is lost because Music on the Watch (just like Music on the Phone, and iTunes) is written by one of the few incompetent teams at Apple that doesn't seem to get just how much value there is in remembering and persisting state from one launch to the next. So when you return to Music on the Watch, not only has it forgotten what file, in what playlist it was playing, it has also forgotten where it was in the file.

As I said, it's basically useless if you're trying to listen to long form content for all these reasons
- have to fake the type of the files in iTunes
- sync from iOS to Watch is iffy (maybe just for long files?) and require too much hand-holding
- no state (playlist, file, position in file) is persisted.

These are all minor issues in the sense that they are trivial to fix. But they destroy the usability of the Watch for this purpose; which is a real shame, because when it works, it works delightfully. But then it breaks, and the delight evaporates fast.
 

sergiovr

macrumors newbie
Dec 9, 2018
1
0
Hi, I have been trying to listen to Podcasts whilst running, but about 15 minutes in they stop and say "you are not connected to the internet". Surely if an episode is downloaded to the watch, I should be able to listen to it to the end. Does anyone have this problem or know how to fix it? Thanks
 

ncmrnc

macrumors newbie
May 14, 2018
16
18
Hi, I have been trying to listen to Podcasts whilst running, but about 15 minutes in they stop and say "you are not connected to the internet". Surely if an episode is downloaded to the watch, I should be able to listen to it to the end. Does anyone have this problem or know how to fix it? Thanks
I have noticed this thread has been abandoned. I feel afraid to leave behind the phone now!

Have you found a definitive guide on force syncing or making sure the episode is definitely on the watch before starting a run?

Thanks
 

name99

macrumors 6502a
Jun 21, 2004
643
374
I have noticed this thread has been abandoned. I feel afraid to leave behind the phone now!

Have you found a definitive guide on force syncing or making sure the episode is definitely on the watch before starting a run?

Thanks
The app Overcast claims to sync podcast episodes onto the aWatch so that they run from the watch without needing a phone. I don't care about podcasts per se, so I can't say how well it works.

I can say that the sideloading feature (you upload an audiobook to the overcast website, and it gets synced to your phone and then your watch) DOES work. IMHO this feature is so much hassle to use, and so poorly supported, that I gave up on using Overcast to listen to audiobooks. But podcasts are, presumably, more fire-and-forget (subscribe and then everything should just keep happening) so hopefully for your use case it will work well?
 

T-Bob

macrumors 6502a
Oct 23, 2013
606
299
Castro also sideloads, but via iCloud instead I believe. Not tried it.
 

name99

macrumors 6502a
Jun 21, 2004
643
374
Castro also sideloads, but via iCloud instead I believe. Not tried it.
The problem with Castro is that the UI is incomprehensible to a novice user, there is no documentation, and the author appears uninterested in fixing either of these issues.
I tried it for this purpose and concluded life was too short to waste time trying to reverse engineer a mental model that the author did not want to make known.