YouTube Music for Wear OS 3 won’t work on older hardware

We went hands-on with the long-awaited release of YouTube Music for Wear OS earlier week, and while the app certainly gets the job done, it comes with the requirement for Wear OS 3. Unfortunately, that’s a restriction that can’t be easily overcome, either.

Google first confirmed to 9to5Google that the new YouTube Music and Google Maps applications will require Wear OS 3 earlier this month, but it was assumed by some that at least YouTube Music would be unofficially available on older hardware. After all, Spotify pulled it off.

Unfortunately, we’re sad to confirm that YouTube Music for Wear OS 3 just will not work on older devices. We ripped the APK from the Galaxy Watch 4 and attempted to sideload it on one of our favorite older Wear OS devices, the Moto 360. However, ADB kicked back an error that explains what’s going on. YouTube Music requires a minimum API level of 30, meaning it requires the device to be running Android 11 or higher. As it stands today, all older Wear OS devices are based on Android 9.

If you were hoping that modifying the app would open doors, it seems that route won’t work either. A mobile security analyst and Android enthusiast, @linuxct, confirmed on Twitter that there’s no easy way to get things up and running.

Modifying the app to lower the minimum API level to 28, Android 9, allows it to be installed on older version of Wear OS. However, other portions break. Other modifications required to hit the lower requirement broke support for Google login, which is required to make the app function at all. It’s also noted that the app need to be modified because it requires support for newer APIs that Android 9 can’t handle, so even if the login issue was patched up there’s no guarantee that things would actually work.

RIP YouTube Music on older Wear OS watches. It was just never meant to be. At least more Wear OS 3 watches are around the corner.

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