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Apple Watch Can Use Known Wi-Fi Networks for Limited Functions Even When iPhone Is Off

Apple Watch Sport BlueA collection of major tech blogs yesterday published their in-depth reviews for the Apple Watch, one of which was Yahoo! Tech's David Pogue, whose opinion fell in line with most other sites, describing the Apple Watch as "light-years better" than any other smartwatch, but "you don't need one."

When discussing the Watch's tethering to an iPhone, Pogue reveals a few pieces of information about the Watch that Apple has yet to comment on in any promotional material for the wrist-worn device, mostly regarding some cellular-related functionality sans iPhone.
And here’s a surprising feature that Apple hasn’t said anything about previously: When the watch is in a known Wi-Fi hotspot, the watch can perform the most essential online functions even when your phone is completely dead, turned off, or absent. It can query Siri, for example, send and receive texts, and send/receive drawings and tap patterns to other watch owners. That’s impressive.
According to Pogue's week-long experience with the Apple Watch, even with the iPhone dead or turned off, his Watch could still perform these basic iPhone-reliant functions like sending and receiving texts and drawings. He never mentions actual phone calls, which are undoubtedly still reliant on full use of an iPhone.

Pogue also mentions the Watch's ability to communicate with an iPhone over both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, meaning the two devices can communicate indefinitely as long as they stay under the same Wi-Fi connection even when they're out of Bluetooth range, a previously known but still notable aspect of the Watch.

The Wall Street Journal's Apple Watch review makes a passing reference to Pogue's claim, though providing fewer details than Yahoo! Tech's piece. "The watch does work (a little) away from the phone," The Wall Street Journal's Geoffrey A. Fowler said. "When you’re around a known Wi-Fi network, the watch can tap directly into it."

Stay up to date on the latest Apple Watch news, from estimated shipping and delivery dates to the newest reviews, before Apple's first wearable device goes up for pre-order tonight at 12:01 AM Pacific Time.

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Top Rated Comments

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18 months ago

How can it send/receive SMS if the phone is dead?


probably imessage.

To all the people saying the apple watch doesn't connect to wifi, just wifi direct to iphone, suck it!
Rating: 29 Votes
18 months ago
To everyone who argued it only uses the phone's wifi: I told you so!
Rating: 15 Votes
18 months ago
Soooo many forum members are going to bed red faced now.
Rating: 9 Votes
18 months ago
"It can query Siri, for example, send and receive texts, and send/receive drawings and tap patterns to other watch owners. That’s impressive."

That is awesome. Don't need my phone at all to send texts and respond to people. The #1 thing I do with my iPhone is texting. I am very impressed since I have about 100 known wi-fi networks on my IPhone.

I wonder if you will eventually be able to make phone calls with just the watch since you can make calls with Wi-Fi/VoIP? Maybe already works with Sprint and now T-Mobile which allow Phone calls over Wi-Fi?

Shouldn't take long though before people start bashing this nice additional information.
Rating: 6 Votes
18 months ago
This is the kind of stuff they should have been talking about months ago. For a lot of the doubters, myself included, one of the biggest weaknesses was that it only could do most functions tethered to the phone. Only NOW are we finding out, and not from Apple, that it has independent abilities. The Apple Watch has a lot of capabilities without the phone and that is huge. Marketing was so fixated on style and appearance, and getting on the cover of Vogue and what it could do through the iPhone, that they have been not mentioning huge features like this. This is a huge screw up by marketing.
Rating: 5 Votes
18 months ago

How can it send/receive SMS if the phone is dead?


Probably by people who don't understand technology writing technology articles.
Rating: 4 Votes
18 months ago
Remember Macrumors before Apple Watch?
Rating: 3 Votes
18 months ago
That's a pretty notable discovery! Up to this point, I think it's been assumed the Watch without the iPhone tethered had zero network capabilities[?]

How can it send/receive SMS if the phone is dead?


I'm assuming since the article said texts, and talked WiFi, they would be through the Messages app (i.e., to/from other iOS/OSX clients).

Side note: I think the model pictured is the exact one I'm buying :)
Rating: 3 Votes
18 months ago

I put money it being able to make a FaceTime Audio call, if not now, in the very near future. If it has WiFi based messaging, WiFi based VOIP services seem like a logical step :)

That of course that would limit it to other iOS/OSX recipients, but in my case, that covers 98% of my friends/family/peers :D


The watch will turn into something very useful over time. It certainly has some novelty features that will turn out to not be useful in the long run but with software updates and then gen 2 models, we'll start to see some really useful features.

People need to remember that the iPhone, while revolutionary, was very limited at launch. The Apple Watch is limited now (but Apple opening it up to all developers will quickly close gaps) but has terrific potential.
Rating: 3 Votes
18 months ago
Macs and non-iPhone iOS devices send SMS via your iPhone, but it's via the iMessage service. Your iPhone doesn't need to be on the same Wifi network. It'll find it, and relay it through your iPhone as long as it's on and connected to the Internet somewhere.
Rating: 3 Votes

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