Apple Watch Series 0 Understanding Wifi connection to iPhone when making calls.

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by Juzza10, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. Juzza10 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2017
    #1
    Hi All,

    I have a series 0 and I am trying to understand when and how the watch connects to wifi especially the wifi connection to the iPhone, and how this affects the ability to make and receive calls.
    I live in the U.K which means Wifi Calling using iCloud isn't available so the only way to make calls is by having a direct connection to the iPhone either over Bluetooth or wifi. (I can use FaceTime audio but I want to use my mobile operator connection).
    I work across several buildings which use the same wifi but I have noticed that although my watch connects to the wifi no problem it's a bit hit and miss with allowing the calls I.e it appears to have lost connection to my iPhone. I never have problems with my iPad or mac making calls over wifi using my phone connection, just the Watch.
    So my questions are as follows:

    1. Can the Apple Watch perform the initial sync to the iPhone using wifi or does it need to be Bluetooth followed by handoff to wifi when you go out of Bluetooth range? My watch connects to wifi fine but I don't think it is connecting to my iPhone all the time especially if I move in and out of wifi range.

    2. Does the Apple Watch work differently when making calls over wifi through the iPhone compared to the iPad and mac. They always work flawlessly but the Watch doesnt seem to like being away from the iPhone for too long when stuck on wifi.

    I have searched the web for answers but can't seem to find anywhere that explains the wifi connection mechanism on the watch and how it communicates to the phone over wifi. I guess in the US Wifi calling is available so it doesn't matter but in the U.K. it isn't so the only way to make calls on the watch (without using FaceTime audio) is via the iPhone over Bluetooth or wifi.

    Thanks for your help in advance.
    Justin
     
  2. matrix07 macrumors 601

    matrix07

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2010
    #2
    When the watch is out of range of iPhone, there will be a red phone/slash icon appear on the watch, that's when in your case you can not make a call.
    iPad & Mac can receive phone call if it's in the same Wi-Fi network as iPhone. This is not the case with the watch since the watch is using iPhone connection while those two using connection of their own.

    What you wanna do can be solved easily by LTE watch.
     
  3. fischersd macrumors 601

    fischersd

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2014
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    #3
    @matrix07 what? :) Sorry, your last sentence isn't making a lot of sense to me. :)

    I'd really like to understand why you think the watch's using wifi to take calls is different to the iPad or Mac when it's using continuity. :)

    @Juzza10 The watch can actually take wifi calls in one of two ways - via continuity or via GAN/UMA (Wifi calling).

    If you don't have wifi calling available from your carrier (they have to have infrastructure in place to support it), then that feature will not be enabled on the watch.

    The watch prefers to use bluetooth to connect to the iPhone - it's more energy efficient. Also, initial setup is done over bluetooth - the initial pairing / security handshake is over bluetooth. It's only after pairing that your watch learns about the saved networks on your iPhone and will join the 2.4GHz wifi network that your iPhone is connected to.

    As you walk away from your iPhone, the bluetooth signal gets weaker and the watch turns on the wifi radio...switching the connection before it actually loses connectivity with the iPhone over bluetooth.

    As for why voice calls don't work great over wifi when you're several buildings away from your iPhone, but on the same corporate (or school) network - there's latency in that connectivity. Depending on how all of the wifi access points are connected to your corporate network, the speeds between these points might leave a little to be desired. Also, the wifi radio in the watch isn't the most powerful or fastest - newer iPads and Mac's support 802.11AC at much higher bandwidth capabilities than the watch, providing a more robust experience. (pretty sure Apple's still leaving 802.11AC out of the watch as it would deplete the battery too quickly). You have to remember the watch battery's pretty tiny...about the size of a couple dimes.
     
  4. matrix07 macrumors 601

    matrix07

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2010
    #4
    Hmm... yeah, that doesn't make a lot of sense.

    When i was talkiang about the watch I was thinking about "known Wi-Fi" not " same local network". :p
     
  5. Juzza10 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2017
    #5
    Hi Both,

    Thanks for your replies. As you mentioned in the UK we don't have wifi calling. My mac and ipad use my iphone to perform the call (it actually says its using my iphone on the screen) and as I mentioned this works really well (I don't believe bluetooth is required at all and this all works just using wifi) but i'm trying to understand the connection mechanism that the watch uses. My watch makes calls fine on Bluetooth to my iphone but it doesn't always do this when on wifi to my phone. Quite often it will just say call failed even through it is connected to the wifi OK and my phone is also on the same wifi. Very useful to know that the watch connects to wifi prior losing the Bluetooth connection completely. So for my better understanding:

    1. If my watch is connected to wifi on the same network as my phone, is there a time period before the watch needs to connect back to the phone on Bluetooth before it just loses connection?

    2. Does the watch always need to sync with the phone via Bluetooth if either one was turned off and back on again? Or do you think they could connect by wifi (obviously im assuming the watch is capable of connecting to the wifi access point in question already).

    2. When I walk between buildings at work the wifi signal will drop and then come back again. My watch reconnects to wifi and texts and email work fine but it wont actually re-connect to my phone again and therefore calls wont work? I thought it would do. Ive tried this at home also by going outside for 15 minutes and the watch re-connects to wifi but may not resync back to the iphone (obviously it will do if I turn Bluetooth back on the phone but to try this I turn it off on the phone). Does it need Bluetooth to resync again if you completely go out of range? I was hoping that it could do this via wifi?

    Thanks for your invaluable help.

    Justin
     
  6. fischersd macrumors 601

    fischersd

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2014
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    #6
    1. No, if you're outside of Bluetooth range of your iPhone the watch is fine staying on wifi connectivity.

    2. The watch (Series 0 through 2) relies on the iPhone for certain connectivity (such as SMS and voice calls) - if you turn the iPhone off, the only things that will work on the watch are standalone apps that work over wifi. You shouldn't need to reconnect to the iPhone if you reboot the phone. There may be a timeline that the shared security key between them becomes stale if the iPhone was left off for a period of time, but only those internal to Apple would know what that period would be.

    The second 2 - huh? If it reconnects to wifi (at work) but is unable to reconnect to your iPhone, then you likely have firewalls in place at work preventing that connection. (eg. all wireless access points access the internet via the corporate backbone, but they can't necessarily access other peer networks within the company - this is done typically to keep people from setting up servers in insecure areas). Due to this, you're going to need to keep your iPhone with you at work....or talk to your corporate networking team about making an exception to their policies to allow the watch and iPhone to communicate with each other from these peer network segments.

    "resync" isn't the word you should be using...."connect" is a better word. "resync" suggests there's some syncing of data that needs to happen. That isn't the case.

    Why are you turning off the bluetooth on your iPhone? You want to have worse battery life on your watch and iPhone? Like I said, bluetooth is more energy efficient than wifi, so you should let your watch use that connection when in coverage. Doing otherwise is somewhat pointless.

    You should just let the watch connect to the iPhone as it was designed to do. By manually trying to manage these connections, your experience will be less than optimum.
     
  7. Juzza10 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2017
    #7
    Hi,

    Thanks for your reply. I am only performing this experiment to assess the watch to iPhone connection over wifi due to moving in and out of wifi at work with my watch but not being near my phone (my phone stays on my desk). I know for optimum performance you need to have bluetooth switched on. I am just trying to figure out all of the different scenarios.

    I tried some experiments yesterday to assess the wifi connection further. I allowed my watch and phone to connect via bluetooth at home then I turned the bluetooth off. I left my phone at home on the home wifi and took the dog for a walk. When I returned home 25 minutes later the watch did infact connect to my phone again over wifi (checked by making a call and also pinging the phone from the watch).

    If I perform the same experiment but turn either the watch or iPhone off and back on the watch does not connect back to the phone even when they are both on wifi. the watch happily goes onto my home wifi but I can't ping the phone nor make a call on the watch so I don't think there is a direct connection between the 2. I think that if either watch or phone is turned off they need to connect back to each other by bluetooth prior to any potential wifi connection between the 2. This is obviously different to how continuity works with a Mac or iPad to the phone for making phone calls through the iPhone (only wifi is required and not bluetooth).

    Any thoughts on this please?

    Thanks a lot for your help and knowledge, it is helping me a lot.

    Justin
     

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6 October 5, 2017