(Credit: Spotify)

As great as mobile phones are these days, sometimes it's inconvenient to dig them out of your pocket, or to carry them around at all. With a smart watch on your wrist, though, you can text, check your messages and notifications, get directions if your watch has GPS, and quickly check out at a cash register. It can also be really handy for listening to music on the go.

In the three years since the Apple Watch launched, it's seen music apps come and go (though Pandora is supposed to be returning soon), and the platform has favored the company's own Apple Music throughout; the Music app is pre-installed on your Apple Watch, your iPhone, and your iPad, which has gone a long way towards boosting its success against rivals whose apps must be sought out and installed by the user.

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Despite this obstacle, the subscription numbers for archrival Spotify have remained strong, so Apple has decided that there's enough room in this town for two -- Spotify (Android, iOS) is finally coming to the Watch, where it will be rolling out "over the coming week." This will mean more (and serious) competition on the device for Apple, but it could also bring a lot of Spotify fans who've been holding off on getting the Watch until it had apps suited to their tastes.

After all, the Apple Watch with LTE starts at $500, and your mobile carrier will want another $15 to $20 a month after all the taxes and fees are calculated. There's also the optional accidental damage protection for $79.

Downloading songs to your watch is still in the works

With Spotify on the Apple Watch, you can stream over Wi-Fi or LTE, control which nearby device is playing your music, skip tracks, rewind, and save music to your collection. The company says that storing music on the Watch itself is still under construction; until that becomes available, you'll need to either stream over the internet to the version of the Watch that has LTE, or have a Wi-Fi connection available nearby.

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The current Series 4 Apple Watch has 16 gigabytes of storage, and the Series 3 has 8GB (though in both cases, about 2GB is used up by the operating system, watchOS). Either capacity should accommodate hundreds of songs, separately from whatever else you're using that storage for.

We should note, however, that streaming music isn't something that you can do all day long, because a smart watch battery can only be so big. Apple rates its Series 4 watches for 18 hours of use between charges, but streaming is a nonstop drain that can cut that number in half, or more. If you're streaming over LTE and using GPS, you may get only four hours.

So if streaming is on your schedule, make sure your Apple Watch is fully charged before you head out in the morning. According to Apple, it takes 90 minutes to charge the Watch to 80 percent, so plan ahead.

Takeaways

  • Spotify is finally coming to the Apple Watch this week, just in time for the holiday shopping season.
  • However, it won't support downloading music to the Watch quite yet. Instead, you need either an LTE or Wi-Fi connection to stream to the device.
  • The LTE version of the Series 4 Watch starts at $500, and your mobile carrier will want another $15 to $20 a month, after all its taxes and regulatory fees are included.

Also see

Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.