How-To Geek

Everything You Can Do on Your Apple Watch Without Your iPhone

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Your Apple Watch relies on your iPhone to get notifications, view data, and even send messages and make calls. However, your Apple Watch is not completely useless without your iPhone. Here some things you can do on your watch when your phone is out of range.

View Text Messages, Emails, and Recent Calls

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When your Apple Watch is not connected to your iPhone, you won’t get new text messages or emails, nor will you get notified of calls coming in. However, your watch does store some recent text messages and emails, as well as a log of recent calls. This allows you to browse through text messages and emails you already received, as well as look through any recent calls you’ve made or received, even if your watch is not connected to your phone. You can also see your list of contacts. However, you won’t be able to reply to emails or text messages or send new messages.

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Track Your Daily Activity

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Your Apple Watch does a decent job of tracking your daily fitness activities, and this feature works whether the watch is connected to your phone or not. So, feel free to leave your iPhone at home when you go out for a walk or run. Your watch will still track your movement, exercise, and standing time, as well as the total calories burned, total steps taken, and distance covered in the Activity app or glance.

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Track an Individual Workout

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Similarly, if you want to track information for a specific workout, like your heart rate, mileage, average pace, or calories burned, it can be cumbersome to carry your iPhone with you. Thankfully, these sensors work independently of your phone, so you can launch the Workout app on your Apple Watch and leave your iPhone at home.

Note, however, that if you want to track your GPS location while working out, you will need your iPhone, since your watch does not have a built-in GPS.

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Play Music

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If you enjoy listening to music during your workout, you can do that with just your watch as well–as long as you’re using Bluetooth headphones. The Apple Watch allows you to store up to 2GB of music files on the watch itself in a single playlist. Once you transfer music to your watch using your phone, you can listen to the music with your watch even when it isn’t connected to your phone. Simply use the force touch feature to select the watch as the source of music. Then, you can play music from the playlist on the watch and even shuffle the songs (also using force touch).

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Pay for Stuff and Use Your Rewards Cards, Movie Tickets, and More

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One of the Apple Watch’s best features is the ability to use Apple Pay through the Wallet app. You can store credit and debit cards, rewards cards, movie tickets, boarding passes, and more all in one place. Best of all, you don’ t need your phone to use this feature–you just need to set up Apple Pay for your watch using your iPhone first. Then, you can stop somewhere for a bite to eat or a drink on your way back from a run and still leave your phone at home. Note that you need to have a passcode set up on your watch to use Apple Pay.

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View Photos

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In addition to reserving space for music, the Apple Watch also provides some space to store up to 500 photos locally on the watch. By default, it’ll sync your Favorites album, but you can choose a different album in the Watch app on your phone. Simply add photos to the synced album using your phone and then you can view those photos on your watch even if it’s not connected to your phone. Photos on your watch can also be used to create a custom watch face from a single photo or from the entire photo album.

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Set Alarms, Timers, and Use the Stopwatch

Before smartwatches, there were multi-function watches from companies such as Casio and Timex. They not only told the time, but also allowed you to set alarms and timers and use a stopwatch. Just like these older watches your Apple Watch can perform these functions without your phone connected. You can set multiple alarms, turn them on and off, and time things using the timer or stopwatch. As of WatchOS 2, your watch can also be used as an alarm clock at your bedside with the new Nightstand mode.

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View Glances

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Glances provide a quick way to view information on your watch for apps that support the feature (not all apps do). Simply swipe up from the bottom of the watch and then swipe left and right to view the various glances.

How well glances work depends on the app they’re connected to. If an app doesn’t require talking to your phone, you can view its glances in full without your phone connected.

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Many glances, however, depend on your phone for data. Some will display the most recent data it received, though, and indicate at the bottom of the screen when it was last updated.

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Some glances will display a message when your watch is not connected to your phone, though. You cannot view these glances if your phone is not connected.

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Tell the Time

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Okay, this one was a bit obvious, but let’s not forget that your Apple Watch is, first and foremost, a watch. So it’s a good thing it keeps telling you the time even when it’s not connected to your phone. Apple promises that the Apple Watch keeps time within 50 milliseconds of the global standard. So, if all you need is a simple watch, feel free to leave your phone at home. You can even extend the time your watch tells you the time when your battery is running low using the Power Reserve feature.

You can also customize, add, and delete watch faces on your apple watch without a connection to your iPhone.

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Your Apple Watch may not be as useful when it’s not connected to your iPhone, but at least you won’t be an expensive wrist weight when your phone is not around. Depending on what you’re doing, you can often get by until your watch is reunited with your iPhone.

Lori Kaufman is a writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 02/5/16

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