You’re probably aware that there aren’t really any good ways to listen to podcasts directly from your Apple Watch anymore. A lot of people have been grumbling about this since watchOS 4 was introduced. The reason for this is that Apple killed a key programming function that allowed background audio apps to run and provide good controls. Since then, podcast apps for the Apple Watch have become few and far between. Overcast is no longer available as a stand-alone on the Watch. And Pocket Casts suffers from problems when attempting to listen directly from the Watch. But there is one app that is providing a good listening experience – with one or two caveats. The app is known as Watch Player.
With Watch Player, you can install your podcasts straight to your Apple Watch without any workarounds or hacks. The app allows you to search for your favourite podcasts or add them by URL. What it can’t do is read directly from your Podcasts app. Once you have your podcasts lined up for transfer, you just have to tap the top left outbox-looking icon. Your podcast episodes will start loading on your Watch.
This is where it gets complicated. The transfer process is speed-controlled by iOS and watchOS. And there’s no way to give it a priority. Which means, there’s no way of knowing how long it’s going to take to be ready to listen to your podcasts from your Apple Watch. You can also send feeds directly to the Apple Watch from the app and then download the episodes directly to the wrist using Watch Player. With this method, however, the transfer rate can be even slower than sending episodes from your iPhone to your Watch. Some estimated that it took almost five minutes to download a twenty-minute podcast.
Once you have the episodes downloaded, you can listen to your podcasts straight from Apple Watch. You no longer need to have your iPhone with you. All you have to do is pair a set of Bluetooth headphones to your Apple Watch. The player offers controls for rewinding and fast forwarding within an episode. You can also skip forward or backward. If you Force Touch the player while listening, you can delete the podcast from your Apple Watch or adjust the playback speed. Unfortunately, you cannot control the volume from within Watch Player. If you want to change how quiet or loud the podcast plays, you have to do so from the Now Playing screen.
You can download Watch Player from the App Store, but it will cost you. Not a lot, but there is a fee for the app. The app looks decent, but it still seems a bit cumbersome in terms of downloading the podcasts to your Watch. It appears that adding music to your Watch is almost as cumbersome, so perhaps Apple will come up with an easier way to do this before long. After all, you want people to use your products and making them easy to use is your best bet.