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In watchOS 3 the 'Now Playing' complication played music on your phone when you pressed play, unless you changed audio source to the watch.

In watchOS 4 this defaults to the watch, and so far as I can tell there's no way to change it to the phone.

In practice this means that I will travel somewhere listening to music, arrive at my destination, do something else for a bit, then when leaving I press 'Play' on my watch and it starts a completely different album or playlist from the watch instead of continuing where the iPhone left off (the desired behaviour – and the default if I pressed 'Play' on the iPhone, or in watchOS 3).

Since it's not an LTE watch, and it has very little storage on it for music, this change seems completely bizarre as it means that there's only a small selection of tracks to play ever.

My question: is there a way to disable this, and make the Watch start music via the iPhone instead of the Watch?

  • Some questions: (1) Are you saying, for example, that you could be listening to music on your iPhone while on a train or in a car and then later, after arriving at your destination, you press play on your Apple Watch only to find it starts playing music that's locally stored rather than continuing to play the music you were listening to on your iPhone? (2) When playing music on your iPhone, can you pause/play it from your Apple Watch? (3) When this problem occurs, are your Watch/iPhone still connected? (4) Could the connection between both devices have been broken at some point? – Monomeeth Oct 3 '17 at 5:58
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+50

I believe you are referring to the Music complication. Which is separated from the Now Playing in watchOS 4.

The solution is to use a dedicated Now Playing from now on. It can be also set as a complication which would allow easy access:

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  • Thanks for the answer. It's a pity there's not a smaller complication for 'Now Playing', but this is better than nothing :) – Lauren Oct 6 '17 at 19:15
  • Pisses me off too, guess they are trying to nudge us to sync music to the Apple watch itself. – firedev Oct 9 '17 at 6:49
  • Does using the 'Now Playing' complication enable users to select music from the iPhone? – oa- Oct 9 '17 at 12:55
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Correct, with watchOS 3.x it was possible to use Apple Watch as a kind of remote for iPhone's Music.app:

  • Browse all available music by artist/album/genre
  • Start/stop playback on your iPhone with Apple Watch
  • Change the music source from iPhone's storage to Apple Watch's storage

Answer

Unfortunately, starting with watchOS 4, you can't browse music on your iPhone to start playing it using your Apple Watch.

See also Apple's Apple Watch User Guide on Music/Now Playing for using Music.app with watchOS 4.

watchOS 4 Now Playing screen


Workaround

You may want to use this workaround:

While watchOS 4 will no longer allow a user to browse their iPhone's music library, they can still use the Apple Watch to control it. In fact, it's now easier than ever: A "Now Playing" screen shows up by default when the user is playing music from their iPhone, giving quick access to pause, skip a track, or adjust the volume with the Digital Crown.

However, in order to take advantage of this, users must start the playback of music on their iPhone, then continue controlling it via the Apple Watch.

  • Seems like Apple enjoys removing nice features to piss off users. – Ramy Al Zuhouri Nov 1 '17 at 11:42
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The other workaround I found is using Siri. For some reason, if you go through Siri, the default is iPhone.

  • Yep, I noticed that too! Which leads into another 'work-around' which is that I started using the Siri watch-face so that I could get back into 'Now Playing' much like the 'Now Playing' complication (this allows me to have both my music and calendars up at the same time like how I did on watchOS 3). – Lauren Dec 12 '17 at 18:34

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