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 podcasts without their iPhone nearby. Between Apple Podcasts and third-party developers, there are lots of podcast apps for the Apple Watch. Here are a few apps to help you listen to podcasts on the watch with Bluetooth headphones.

Apple Watch owners gained native support for listening to podcasts directly on their wrists 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 tap the Share icon, then Send Podcast To Watch.

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.

Downloading podcasts over Bluetooth to the Apple Watch will run down its battery, so make sure to keep it charged. As battery life improves and data connections become faster, side-loading podcast episodes will become less taxing on the device.

How to Use MiniCast for 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 can be a deterrent.

  • 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 purchased inside the phone app, the next thing you’ll want to do is make sure the MiniCast app shows up on your Apple Watch; if it doesn't, follow these steps.

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your phone.

  2. Scroll down to MiniCast.

  3. Tap MiniCast.

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

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

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

How to Use Workouts++ for 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 playing functionality on Apple Watch. The idea being people want to listen to music or podcasts while working out, allowing workout apps to enable playback directly from Apple Watch.

After downloading, if you don’t see Workouts++ appear on your Apple Watch automatically, 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. Tap Podcasts, found in the lower menu, then tap the Plus (+) 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, tap 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. Tap an episode to listen.

How to Use Apple Podcasts on the Apple 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 developers and their apps.

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

Conveniently, when you charge your Apple Watch, podcasts that you subscribe to sync to watch automatically. You can also sync podcasts manually.

Apple Podcast app users will see their subscriptions sync automatically and be able to stream or download episodes without the need for their phone.

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

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

  3. Under Add Episodes From, tap Custom.

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

  5. If you can't find your show, open the Podcasts app, find it, and tap 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 removed episodes from the Apple Watch after you listen to them.