Do maps work without a phone connection?

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by johngwheeler, Sep 17, 2016.

  1. johngwheeler macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2010
    I come from a land down-under...
    This sounds like a really obvious question, but I can't find the answer anywhere!

    I know the GPS will work on the watch without a paired phone, but does this just record position data for later downloading to a map, or can the watch (series 2) display maps, and therefore navigate, without a phone connection?

    I tried turning off Bluetooth on my phone and could still use the maps, but this may have been read from a data cache.

    If this is possible, this would imply that maps are downloaded to the Watch itself, which I don't think happens with the phone maps.

    Does anyone know?


  2. AdventurousJosh macrumors 6502

    Aug 11, 2008
    I've been asking for weeks, I made a good threat on it with some discussions too.
    Zero answers. If you own the watch bro leave your phone at home load up those maps and start walking.
  3. orbitalpunk macrumors 6502


    Aug 14, 2006
    I'd like to know this as well. whats weird is if I keep my phone connected to my phone but turn on location services on my phone, maps can't find my location and asks me to turn location services on my phone which doesnt make sense when the watch has built in GPS.
  4. moxxham macrumors 6502


    Mar 8, 2015
    Sydney, Australia
    Just tried loading maps without a connection to my phone - doesn't work unfortunately
  5. johngwheeler thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2010
    I come from a land down-under...
    I just tried by disconnecting bluetooth on my phone, and walking about 100 yards from any of my devices. I found that the map still appeared in the same detail as normal over a wide area near my location, but that I couldn't search for "new" locations (I got an error that there was no internet connection). However, if I chose a location from the "near me" list, it would give me directions.

    It seems that a large amount of map data is cached, so even if navigation isn't fully functional, it should still be possible to find out where you are on the map. I'll test this more thoroughly over the next few days, especially when I'm further away from home, in a location that may not have cached the map data.

  6. frumpy16 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 8, 2008
    This like other GPS watches records GPS positions as you go and later reconstructs them onto a map in an app/website.
  7. BarracksSi Suspended


    Jul 14, 2015
    The answer is in knowing how these things work.

    No, you're not going to get much done with Maps without a data connection through the phone.

    In years past, GPS units (TomTom, Garmin, and car navigation systems, mainly) used maps preloaded via DVD-ROMs and flash data cards. They held all road data and a given number of points of interest, and they worked without a cellular data connection. However, they could not get real-time data like traffic conditions, construction detours, updated locations and street names, and more.

    You're not going to get this on the watch, not as far as I know. Apple's Maps continuously downloads data as you pan, zoom, and search, and it does this whether it's on the watch or phone or iPad or desktop. There's one phone app that lets you download a regional map for offline use (great for travelers to avoid data roaming charges), but each region is around a gigabyte in size, and does not update with data for things like traffic conditions.

    And, oh yeah, there's Siri, which always uses a data connection.

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6 September 17, 2016