Confusion about wifi functionality of the Apple Watch

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by Macwick, May 17, 2015.

  1. Macwick macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2008
    Apple has said very little about how the Apple Watch leverages wifi, so it's been a bit of a guessing game.

    I initially assumed that if your Apple Watch and iPhone were on the *same* wifi network, the Apple Watch would simply use wifi to connect to the iPhone and would be fully functional.

    This would be *awesome*, as once you got home you could simply drop your iphone and use your watch anywhere in the house to take calls, read emails, interact with apps, etc.

    However, I don't think the Apple Watch and the iPhone talk to each other at all over wifi. Instead, the iPhone just shares known wifi network info with the watch ahead of time, and the watch then connects to wifi to perform some basic functions directly via the Internet.

    Am I understanding this correctly? If so, I hope they update it to allow full functionality when the watch and the iPhone are on the same wifi network (similar to the iPad's ability to make and receive calls if it's on the same network as your phone).
  2. NotSafeForWork macrumors regular


    Apr 9, 2015
    Watch and iPhone communicate over the same wifi network if they move out of Bluetooth range.

    They continue to function as though they are still connected via Bluetooth.

    I do exactly what you describe - iPhone on charger and I wear watch around the house and get all the same connectivity.

    Also works over my office wifi.
  3. lentus macrumors member

    Jul 11, 2010
    then why does it show the not connected icon?
    or maybe i am doing something wrong? how do i know that in fact the watch is connected to wifi?
  4. NotSafeForWork macrumors regular


    Apr 9, 2015
    There is no Bluetooth/wifi icon. However the way you can check for sure is to switch OFF Bluetooth on your phone then it must be using wifi.

    If it isn't working for you then try restarting your watch. Works perfectly for me. There are several threads on this here if you search around.
  5. Mac 128 macrumors 603

    Mac 128

    Apr 16, 2015
    People here use it on their gym's wifi network and leave their phone in their lockers while taking the watch well out of BT range.

    However, I would like to see the ability to directly set up the watch on a wifi network, as there will be times I expect to be without my phone, and it would be great to be able to log onto wifi in a location I had never been before with my phone, in order to send and receive messages.
  6. madsci954 macrumors 68030

    Oct 14, 2011
    You're connecting it wrong. LOL

    In all seriousness, I believe they have to be on the SAME network, including frequency. So if your phone is on the 5 GHz and the watch is on 2.4, they won't connect; the Watch is only able to connect to 2.4 frequencies.
  7. vladzaharia macrumors regular

    Jul 5, 2010
    Frequency would make absolutely no difference, the data is still going through the same router, the only thing that matters is if they're both on the same network (more specifically, that the router has a route from the Apple Watch to the iPhone and back) and that the network does not have any security settings on it that would block local network discovery (which home routers do not usually, business routers might).
  8. lentus macrumors member

    Jul 11, 2010
    this is my problem.. both my wifi networks at work and home have the same ssid whether it is 2.4 or 5 ghz.
  9. CobraPA macrumors 6502a

    Mar 12, 2011
    Lansdale, PA, USA
    This is pretty close to the story. The watch only connects to 2.4G wifi networks. If your router supports 2.4 and 5G, the watch can stay on 2.4G and the phone can move to 5G and they can still connect.

    If you normally use a 5G wifi at home, the watch will have picked up your config at setup and won't have the 2.4G credentials. You can move your phone to a 2.4G network, then restart the watch, and it will pick up the new network settings. (At least that's what we had to do to get it to use wifi itself.)

    Yeah, not sure how to force it then. This is probably a bug, as it should have the credentials, but can't tell to move to the 2.4G band itself.
  10. priscilla55 macrumors regular


    Oct 2, 2013
    Falkirk, Scotland

    This is important to note. My wifi is 5GHz and 2.4GHz and I've had to give them separate SSID's so that I can ensure my phone only connects to the 2.4.

    If the phone is connected to the 5GHz, the watch won't connect to wifi as it doesn't work on 5GHz.

    With them both on 2.4 GHz it works seamlessly for all functions.
  11. clemen macrumors newbie

    May 17, 2015

    It docent mather if the watch is on 2.4 ghz and the phone is on 5ghz.

    Just they are on the same network, and p2p traffic is allowed.

    Check out the attatchment this is a screenshot from my wireless controller, the phone is on 5ghz and the watch on 2.4ghz the watch only directs traffic to servers and directly to my phones internal ip address.

    Attached Files:

  12. iBlazed macrumors 68000


    Feb 27, 2014
    New Jersey, United States
    This IS exactly how it works. If it doesn't work properly for you, then it's time to do some troubleshooting.
  13. clemen macrumors newbie

    May 17, 2015
    For me the part about forget network and reconnect to the wireless network made my watch connect.

    I dont think that the apple watch have access to my phones keychain with the wireless pre shared keys in.

    Therefore we need to reenter the psk while connected to the watch, and then it can connect to the wireless network.
  14. tivoboy macrumors 68040

    May 15, 2005
    it does though

    it does though since if one's iphone is on the 5GZ connection with say an airport express, the watch will NOT connect to the 2.4 ghz connection even of course with the same SSID. I've had to delete the 5ghz connections from our iphones in order for the watch to be able to leverage the same connection and connect over wifi when not in bluetooth range.

    that said, the watch seems to try to do everything possible to stay connected via bluetooth and when one gets about 40 ft. away, it's so slow as to not work. At that point it's better to just drop the bluetooth from the phone (turn it off) if you want to always be able to connect around a house or small office - via wifi.
  15. NavySEAL6 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 13, 2006
    This functionality does not work on my home network for some reason. iPhone is connected to a 5Ghtz Wifi. When I turn off Bluetooth my watch drops connectivity. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong
  16. fischersd macrumors 601


    Oct 23, 2014
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Wrong. The watch is given all of the saved networks on your iPhone, including the keys.

    I really wish people would search before starting new threads...there's gotta be 4 or 5 wifi threads already.

    The watch only has a 2.4GHz radio. It only does 802.11b/g/n, so make sure you aren't using 802.11AC. Make sure your 2.4GHZ and 5GHz each have a unique (different!) SSID. Make sure the 5GHz SSID is NOT on the iPhone, so both are connecting to the 2.4GHz SSID. Someone already mentioned the forget/readd trick to get the watch to pick up the SSID (seem a bit of a bug).

    Oh...and one more thing. The security handshake between watch and iPhone is done over bluetooth, so if you go completely out of bluetooth and wifi coverage, you will need to get back into bluetooth range before complete functionality (e.g. phone) is restored.
  17. Fredo C macrumors member

    Mar 18, 2012
    I realized that if I shut off bluetooth on the phone, the watch had no connectivity because the phone was connected through 5.0ghz.

    I created a 2.4ghz network with a unique name, and connect the phone to that network. When I shut off bluetooth now I can text, receive calls, use apps etc over wifi.

    As someone mentioned, the watch tries to hang on to bluetooth at all costs, so I have found that it is sometimes better to shut off bluetooth and use only wifi.

    Apple really should have equipped the watch to handle 5.0ghz as well. Having to tweak the router settings is probably something the average non-techhy consumer will know nothing about. I tried explaining it to someone I work with and I could see the eyes glazing over.
  18. fischersd macrumors 601


    Oct 23, 2014
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Yeah, when you're at the fringe of bluetooth coverage in your home, performance can be poor, but I heard the performance over BT is better than wifi in terms of battery life, so you're better to leave the BT radio on, unless you've definitely identified the limit from where you normally leave it, and it's really causing inconvenience.

    In terms of AC and 5GHz, I think that's solely a space issue. Maybe they'll be able to cram it in for v2.
  19. Mascots macrumors 68000


    Sep 5, 2009
    What a little conumdrum.

    I think this is patchable to some degree. If the 2.4 and 5 bands exist and have the same name and password, the watch SHOULD be smart enough to at least try for it. I'm surprised it doesn't.

    But if they aren't the same, I see no real way besides sidestepping like you have to do now, anyway, since there's no watch UI to connect to networks and if the band and passwords are different, there's no way to supply that info if the iPhone has never known. Hmmm. Quite the predicament indeed!
  20. ZebraDude macrumors 65816


    Sep 7, 2014
    Naperville, IL
    Could you have network isolation turned on in your router. That option would keep the devices from discovering each other.

  21. Mascots macrumors 68000


    Sep 5, 2009
    So, here's the deal: your iPhone has never connected to the 2.4 band of your router before, so the watch has no reference to that (and doesn't see the 5ghz).

    Connect your iPhone to the 2.4, then you can connect back to the 5ghz from your phone. The difference is that now your watch knows and has the information to access the 2.4 band. It gets convoluted depending on your router set up, though, that that's a basic expiation and fix, if that's right at all. See CobraPA above.
  22. h9826790, May 17, 2015
    Last edited: May 18, 2015

    h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    Few main points for the watch to use Wi-Fi

    1) only 2.4GHz network, 802.11g should be the best choice. It can share the same SSID as the 5GHz network (it works in my network, but some other users report that they must separate the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz network in order to make it work. Anyway, all my access points are the Apple Time Capsule or Airport Express, that may cause the difference).

    2) only use WPA2 personal password. Others may cause problem, such as WPA/WPA2 and WPA2 Enterprise, etc. And don't use super long password (e.g. 64 characters)

    3) must have good Wi-Fi reception. The antenna on the watch is not as strong as the phone. If there is only 1 bar on the phone, most likely your watch can't receive anything. If the signal is too weak, install a repeater to increase the signal strength may fix the problem.

    Once you get the setup right, there is no setting on the watch and everything will work automatically. If still no luck, on your iPhone, forget the network and add it back again may do the tricks.
  23. pakyooh, May 18, 2015
    Last edited: May 18, 2015

    pakyooh macrumors 6502


    Jan 21, 2009

    Followed some of the instructions posted on this thread and my watch can now finally connect to my phone via home wifi.

    First, switch my phone connection from 5GHz to 2.4GHz.

    Deleted ("Forget this network") the 5GHz from my phone.

    Restarted both watch and phone.

    And that's it!

    I turned off the bluetooth on my phone and I'm still able to access apps on my watch while on the 2.4GHz. Waited a minute or so, added the 5GHz back to my phone connection and turned off the bluetooth again and it still works.
  24. AlliFlowers Contributor


    Jan 1, 2011
    L.A. (Lower Alabama)
    Where on earth do you switch your watch connection?
  25. tivoboy macrumors 68040

    May 15, 2005
    pakyook probably meant the phone, not the watch.

    Additionally I don't know if we YET know if the watch actually has WIFI SSID DISCOVERY..

    The phone is required to join a wifi network and the phone and watch must at least first be paired with bluetooth. The phone MAY simply be telling the watch, "I'm currently connected to this network here is the SSID and PW go connect" and the watch goes and connects without actually trying to discover "networks"


    We haven't seen any type of discovery screen on the watch yet, we HAVE seem some screens that show what the wifi connection is currently (I think it was a user with some developer access) but I don't think it was also able to show OTHER networks.

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