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Google WiFi - Can't unlock Watch w/iPhone or MacBook w/Watch

hipnetic

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 5, 2010
1,168
474
About a week ago I bought a Google WiFi 3-pack to replace my Apple Airport hub (most recent gen). The Airport was working OK, but in a couple spots of my house, the 5GHz signal strength wasn't great. Also, I liked the fact that the Google WiFI app for my iPhone would let me monitor usage, more easily allow guests access to our network, etc.

I finally hooked up the Google WiFi hubs 2 days ago. During day 1 I hit an issue with WiFi Calling (side note: my house has poor cellular coverage for all carriers - I'm with AT&T - I get about one bar of AT&T coverage inside my house). Because WiFi Calling has never been great for me in terms of handing off the connection (my iPhones will too often want to latch onto that 1-bar of cell signal instead of using WiFi Calling), so I've started putting my iPhone into Airplane mode at home, to force it to use WiFi Calling. Well, in Airplane mode I tried making a call on day 1 and got an error message on my iPhone telling me that I needed to either disable Airplane mode or connect to WiFi, but I was connected to WiFi just fine, and confirmed it by pulling up some websites in Safari. It turns out that there's a longstanding known issue with Google WiFi and WiFi Calling.

One supposed fix/workaround was to change the DNS settings. I tried that and it seemed to work day 1, but then day 2 I had the same issue again. The other workaround that several people claim works is to go into the Google WiFi app and tell it to give your iPhone priority (whatever the wording is). I didn't even bother trying that, because that's not an acceptable workaround, as I may have other people in the house who also need to use WiFi Calling.

Sorry for all of that extra background, because that has nothing to do with the Apple Watch. So on day 2 I ran into another issue which I assumed was due to Google WiFi, but maybe it was just a coincidence and was caused by something else, so I figured I'd post about it here...I couldn't unlock my Apple Watch with my iPhone and I couldn't unlock my MacBook with my (manually unlocked) Apple Watch.

If the problem isn't Google WiFi, the other theory is that I recently bought an iPhone SE as an experiment to see if I could be happy using it instead of the iPhone XS I recently upgraded to, and I just so happened to re-pair my Apple Watch with the iPhone SE on day 1, so I was introducing multiple variables into the mix. So it's possible that by switching from one iPhone to another, I caused something some confusion. But once I hit this issue and couldn't seem to resolve it, I decided to unplug all of my Google WiFi hubs and switch back to the Apple Airport. After doing that, I was able to unlock my Apple Watch with my iPhone and unlock my MacBook with my Apple Watch. So it sure seems like the culprit was Google WiFi.

Has anyone else run into this and, if so, are you aware of a fix? I didn't see anything in the Google support forums about this issue.
 

MisterSavage

macrumors 68020
Nov 10, 2018
2,461
2,404
I think it might be a coincidence. I unlock my iMac with my watch constantly. I'm fairly certain my phone unlocks my watch at home, but I'll try to remember to verify this weekend.

The other workaround that several people claim works is to go into the Google WiFi app and tell it to give your iPhone priority (whatever the wording is). I didn't even bother trying that, because that's not an acceptable workaround, as I may have other people in the house who also need to use WiFi Calling.

Another reason that's not a great workaround is that you can only give a device priority for a maximum of four hours from the Google Wifi app. You'd have to keep doing it over and over again.
 

hipnetic

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 5, 2010
1,168
474
Another reason that's not a great workaround is that you can only give a device priority for a maximum of four hours from the Google Wifi app. You'd have to keep doing it over and over again.
Yup, I was aware of that, too, and that would have been another unacceptable aspect to it.

I'm assuming that you have a decent cell signal at your house and don't need to care about WiFi Calling?
 

MisterSavage

macrumors 68020
Nov 10, 2018
2,461
2,404
I'm assuming that you have a decent cell signal at your house and don't need to care about WiFi Calling?

It's not great but I guess it's sufficient. I use iMessage or Facetime for communicating with most people and don't make many cell phone calls from home.

I did find this Reddit thread where someone suggested that port forwarding is a permanent solution for multiple iPhones in a home.

https://www.reddit.com/r/GoogleWiFi...get_att_wifi_calling_to_work_properly/e3rq07o
 

hipnetic

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 5, 2010
1,168
474
I did find this Reddit thread where someone suggested that port forwarding is a permanent solution for multiple iPhones in a home.

https://www.reddit.com/r/GoogleWiFi...get_att_wifi_calling_to_work_properly/e3rq07o

Ah, thanks, maybe I'll give it another go and try that out. It's not really acceptable that I should have to do that, and it won't help guests in the house, but it might be "good enough" for me to give them a 2nd chance. I think I saw mention of this "fix" in the other thread I found that had the DNS "fix" (that only worked temporarily), but the person who posted it didn't give nearly enough detail to work off of. This thread you've linked to looks to have all of the necessary details.

My other thought, though, is to just return it and buy one or two more Apple Airport Extremes (802.11ac), and hard-wire them via ethernet. From what I've read recently, Apple devices (maybe others) should seamlessly transition from one to another as you move around the house. The iOS app for the Airport doesn't offer some of the neat features that the modern mesh system apps offer. I personally don't need any sort of "family-friendly" features, as our only child is 20 years old. I would like to monitor traffic of devices, to see if something is behaving oddly. And it was nice with the Google WiFi app to be able to grant WiFi access to other iPhones in the house, so that we didn't have to type in the password (though the bigger hassle is with devices like TVs where you have to use a remote control and on-screen keyboard and that feature apparently doesn't work for those things).
 

MisterSavage

macrumors 68020
Nov 10, 2018
2,461
2,404
So funny story, I went to and looked and WiFi calling was off on my iPhone. I remember now that I disabled it when I took a vacation overseas. I turned it back on, put myself in airplane mode, and was able to make a phone call just fine. I'm not sure why it's working for me.

My other thought, though, is to just return it and buy one or two more Apple Airport Extremes (802.11ac), and hard-wire them via ethernet.

Personally I wouldn't do that. Apple discontinued it in early 2018. Even if they're still supporting it with security updates how long can you expect that on a discontinued product?
 

hipnetic

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 5, 2010
1,168
474
So funny story, I went to and looked and WiFi calling was off on my iPhone. I remember now that I disabled it when I took a vacation overseas. I turned it back on, put myself in airplane mode, and was able to make a phone call just fine. I'm not sure why it's working for me
it works fine initially but thennstops working. Report back in a few days if it’s still working for you.
 

athletejmv

macrumors regular
Mar 19, 2011
107
27
So funny story, I went to and looked and WiFi calling was off on my iPhone. I remember now that I disabled it when I took a vacation overseas. I turned it back on, put myself in airplane mode, and was able to make a phone call just fine. I'm not sure why it's working for me.



Personally I wouldn't do that. Apple discontinued it in early 2018. Even if they're still supporting it with security updates how long can you expect that on a discontinued product?

I kept dropping my wifi and purchased a second Apple router. turns out both routers drop wifi randomly. I ended up purchasing the Google mesh network and no problems since. I wouldn't recommend Apple routers, they're not supporting them any longer now that they are discontinued.
 

hipnetic

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 5, 2010
1,168
474
So my wife went away for the weekend, and I figured it might be a good time to give this another try. I unplugged my cable modem and Apple Airport, plugged the cable modem back in, and powered up the Google WiFi again. I followed the instructions of the workaround that was linked to above. Specifically, it involved doing the following:

1) Go into Settings / Network & General / Advance networking
2) Go into DHCP IP reservations, tap the "+" button, find your phone(s), and select them to have reserved IP addresses
3a) Go into Port management, tap the "+" button, find your 1st phone, select it, select TCP, and enter 143 -> 143
3b) Repeat step 3a, but this time select UDP, and enter 500 -> 500
3c) Repeat step 3b, but enter 4500 -> 4500

If you have a 2nd smartphone, you repeat steps 3a-3c, but add one (1) to the numbers listed (e.g., TCP 144 -> 144). For a 3rd smartphone, add another one (1), etc.

So I did that, and there was no immediate change on my iPhone SE. It still indicated that I wasn't using AT&T WiFi for calling. I put my phone into Airplane mode and still no change. I then rebooted Google WiFi and rebooted my iPhone SE. Then, it was working. But I had previously had things working after a Google WiFi reboot, even without having any of this port forwarding, where it would work fine one day and then stop working the next day, so I wasn't sure if I could trust it.

Sure enough, I ran out run some errands, came back, and it was back to not working again. So, now I'll be switching back to the Apple Airport again. I bought the Google WiFi from Bed Bath & Beyond specifically for their 1-year return policy, in case I found the Google WiFi to be problematic. I'll probably hold onto it a bit longer and continue to monitor the threads about this issue. I'm surprised that I'm not seeing a lot more complaints about this issue, but I suspect that people like me who have extremely poor cellular signals for the carrier of their choosing and who rely on WiFi Calling, are probably a fairly small minority.
 
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