How to Listen to Apple Watch Podcasts Without An iPhone

Away from your phone? Catch a podcast anyway

Apple Watch owners can easily listen to Apple Podcasts without their iPhone nearby. Between Apple Podcasts and third-party developers, there are lots of Apple Watch podcast apps.

Listening to podcasts (and other content) on Apple Watch without an iPhone requires an Apple Watch Series 3 (or newer) running watchOS 5 (or later) as well as a Wi-Fi or cellular connection.

There are a few apps you can use to listen to Apple Watch podcasts using Bluetooth headphones, while leaving your iPhone behind. These include:

  • Apple Podcasts
  • MiniCast
  • Workouts++

Downloading podcasts over Bluetooth to the Apple Watch will consume a lot of battery power, so make sure to keep it charged. As battery life improves and data connections become faster, side-loading podcast episodes will become less draining.

Here's how to download and listen to podcasts on an Apple Watch.

How to Use Apple Podcasts on the Apple Watch

Apple Watch owners gained native support for listening to podcasts with the addition of the Apple Podcasts app in watchOS 5; the app is capable of playing and downloading episodes directly to the watch app.

All you have to do is open a podcast app on your iPhone and select an episode. Then select Share > Send Podcast To Watch.

Apple Podcasts app.
Apple, Inc.
What We Like
  • Seamless integration.

  • Streaming and downloading capability.

What We Don't Like
  • Streaming function isn’t available for third-party app developers.

  • Doesn’t have as many features as other podcast apps.

When you charge your Apple Watch, podcasts that you subscribe to will sync to your Watch automatically. You can also sync podcasts manually. Users of the Apple Podcasts app will see their subscriptions sync automatically, allowing them to stream or download episodes without using their phone.

  1. On your iPhone, navigate to Settings > Podcasts and turn on Sync Podcasts

  2. Open the Apple Watch app. Go to the My Watch tab and select Podcasts.

  3. Under Add Episodes From..., select Custom.

  4. Tap the slider for the show that you want.

  5. If you can't find a show, open the Podcasts app, find it, and select Subscribe.

  6. To listen, open the Podcasts app on your Apple Watch.

  7. Turn the Digital Crown to scroll through options.

  8. Tap a podcast to start playing it.

    Apple automatically removes episodes from the Apple Watch after you listen to them.

How to Use MiniCast for Apple Podcasts

MiniCast iPhone app.
What We Like
  • A dedicated app for performing a simple function.

What We Don't Like
  • Sending podcasts to an Apple Watch can be slow.

  • $3.99 may be a deterrent for some.

  • Can't use Overcast to listen.

MiniCast is an app designed to get podcasts directly onto the Apple Watch. While it’s free to download, you’ll need to pay $3.99 to get the app and send podcasts to your Apple Watch.

When you launch the app, it shows an overview of how to use the share button in a variety of podcast apps like Overcast, Apple Podcasts, and Castro to send specific episodes to the MiniCast Apple Watch app.

Once you've purchased the MiniCast app, you’ll want to make sure it shows up on your Apple Watch; if it doesn't, follow these steps.

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.

  2. Scroll down to MiniCast.

  3. Select MiniCast.

  4. Swipe the Display on Apple Watch toggle to enable it.

  5. Open the MiniCast watch app again. Select the episode to download it to the watch’s internal storage.

    This part can take a while, but it will allow you to pair Bluetooth headphones directly to your watch and leave your phone behind.

How to Use Workouts++ for Apple Podcasts

Workouts++ iPhone app.
What We Like
  • Plenty of functionality without being overly complicated.

  • Free.

What We Don't Like
  • Starting podcasts can be slow.

You're not wrong if you think Workouts++ doesn’t sound like a podcast app. There was a loophole in the developer guidelines which allowed workout apps to gain advanced media functionality on the Apple Watch, which allowed for direct playback.

After downloading, if you don’t see Workouts++ appear on your Apple Watch, you can add it using the Apple Watch app on your phone. 

  1. To get podcasts on your watch with Workouts++, start with the phone app.

  2. Select Podcasts, found in the lower menu, then select the Plus (+) button in the top-left corner.

  3. Search for the desired podcast.

  4. Once you add one or more podcast subscriptions, you’ll be able to stream them directly from the watch app.

  5. To download episodes to the watch app, select an episode to begin the download and transfer process.

  6. Inside the Workouts++ watch app, you’ll need to start a workout to see your podcast episodes.

  7. Slide the screen to the left to see available episodes. Select an episode to listen to it.