watchOS2 Wifi Without an iPhone

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by friedmud, Sep 22, 2015.

  1. friedmud macrumors 65816

    Jul 11, 2008
    Time to figure out just what the Watch can do on Wifi, by itself, with watchOS 2... Here's what I've found so far:

    I took my dog for a walk and when I was a half-mile away from my house and my phone showed it was out of wifi range... I turned off my phone. My Watch showed that it was completely disconnected (of course). Then I walked around outside for about another 15 minutes before returning to my house.

    When I got back to my house it only took ~30 seconds before my Watch reconnected itself to my home wifi (which is secured with WPA2 and is NOT using an Apple router) and showed the green cloud in the Settings glance. Remember, my phone is still completely off.

    Stuff that works (phone completely off, Watch authenticated to the network by itself):

    1. Native 3rd Party Apps! (Dark Sky - it even updated the forecast!)
    2. Messages (sending and receiving, including using Siri)
    3. Lots of the built-in apps

    Stuff that doesn't work:

    1. Email (odd! It shows a little "phone disconnected" icon in the corner and doesn't load new emails!)
    2. FaceTime Audio. Trying to make a call says "Call Failed". Trying to receive a call - it just never comes in. (bummer!)
    3. Using "Remote" to control an AppleTV (bummer!). It just puts up a message saying that it can't find your iPhone on the same network.
    4. Maps. It loads but then says it can't connect to my iPhone and doesn't actually load any maps. (bummer!)
    5. Non-native 3rd party apps (duh!)

    Calendar Weirdness:

    - Calendar "kind of" works. It will open - but like Mail it shows a red phone icon in the upper right.
    - The Calendar will NOT update. I added appointments to my google calendar (using my laptop)... and they DONT show on the Watch!
    - You _can_ add a new appointment using Siri (I said: "Hey Siri, add a dentist appointment to my calendar for 4:00 this afternoon")
    - BUT: That appointment actually does NOT get sent to my Google Calendar!!!!! It shows on the Watch ONLY
    - However: once I turned my phone back on (and unlocked it!) that Dentist appointment was then synced to my Gmail calendar!
    - At that point, my Watch also synced down the other test appointments I had made using Google Calendar.


    watchOS2 does bring more wifi functionality to the Watch. The biggest one is that 3rd party, native Apps CAN run and use the internet without an iPhone. That's HUGE. It was also very reliable about reconnecting to a known network... even one secured with a password.

    But: there is still a long way to go toward Watch autonomy. Email and Calendar are pretty big disappointments.... but even worse is Facetime Audio. I had hoped that Facetime Audio would be useable without an iPhone for those times when you go to the gym and want to leave your phone behind. Major bummer.

    Please add anything you have found!
  2. stusgt67 macrumors regular


    Jul 10, 2015
    United Kingdom
    Yeah...I thought the same! Maybe it's due to battery life and we may need to wait for new hardware to take advantage. Ah well, still really happy with my Watch :)
  3. deany macrumors 68030


    Sep 16, 2012
    North Wales
    thanks for taking the time for this helpful post.

    The facetime audio (no phone) really would be amazing.
    Anyone care to guess the technology involved and time scale for this feature?
  4. friedmud thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jul 11, 2008
    I suspect that the current Watch _can_ do it... it just hasn't been implemented yet. Maybe watchOS3 ;-)
  5. tivoboy macrumors 68040

    May 15, 2005
    facetime audio should be working (at least as much as the phone is on the same wifi network) and true facetime audio and wifi calling was announced at the keynote, so maybe it will roll out shortly?
  6. douglasf13 macrumors 65816

    Jul 2, 2010
    I believe that friedmud's experiments are solely with the iPhone turned off, so we can see what the Watch is capable of when leaving the phone at home. If both the Watch and phone are connected via Wi-fi, there should be many more options available.
  7. friedmud thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jul 11, 2008
    To be clear - FaceTime Audio _does_ work with the Watch... but only when you have an iPhone connected to the same network (or connected with BT of course).

    But without an iPhone around it does not work.

    Here's something weird... it looks like Wifi Calling (like you can get from T-Mobile) might work without an iPhone around!
  8. peteyD macrumors member

    Nov 9, 2009
    Good article, very useful.

    One thing I have found that doesn't work as I had hoped is Music. I subscribe to Apple Music and I was hoping that the watch could connect via wifi to my Apple Music subscription, but it can't. When the iPhone is turned off, you are still restricted to synced music.

    A related disappointment is that I can't use Airplay to send music directly from the Apple Watch to my Airport Express. It works if the iPhone is on, but not if it is off.

    Neither are biggies, just a bit disappointed, but very happy with the many improvements.
  9. peteyD macrumors member

    Nov 9, 2009
    BTW, I repeated the test on calendar appointments. I use iCloud for my calendar, but get the same results. With the iPhone off, I can add an appointment using Siri, but it doesn't get synced to iCloud until the iPhone is back on. Oh well.
  10. friedmud thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jul 11, 2008
    Music is definitely a disappointment. It's one reason why I'm sticking with Spotify until I see how music on the Watch plays out. Who wants to take a bet about a native Spotify app on the Watch (that allows offline music) before Apple gets Apple Music working properly on the Watch?

    Whoever does it first will have my dollars!

    Airplay is a bit of a bummer... but I _do_ love the ability to control my iPhone from anywhere in my house using my Watch while _it's_ doing Airplay to my speakers. Use that all the time.
  11. deany macrumors 68030


    Sep 16, 2012
    North Wales
    Sound like you'd like Sonos and Zoneplay for apple watch.
    I love the Santa Barbara based Sonos company.
  12. friedmud thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jul 11, 2008
    I like Sonos (used it a few times)... but I'm currently in a 1 bedroom apartment (it's actually technically a "studio")... where Sonos is a bit overkill ;-)

    My AppleTV hooked up to my surround sound system plays music "throughout my whole house" just fine ;-)

    When I get back to living in a "real" house again I'll definitely be taking a look at Sonos though....
  13. aarontsuru macrumors regular


    Jul 21, 2014
    Brooklyn, NY
    "watchOS2 Wifi Without an iPhone"

    haven't been able to make this work yet, unfortunately.... forgetting networks didn't work. Blerg.
    So tired of all the updates not working with all kinds of various resetting of things.
  14. friedmud thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jul 11, 2008
    Did you ever get it going? What router?
  15. aarontsuru macrumors regular


    Jul 21, 2014
    Brooklyn, NY
    no, apparently work wifi with the certificates doesn't work... I haven't tried at home since we have a smaller NYC apartment, it's bluetooth range is not an issue. A bummer about work though...
  16. Brien macrumors 68030


    Aug 11, 2008
    Disappointing that some of the things I hoped would work w/o the phone do not... Especially Calendar and FaceTime Audio.
  17. Rocketman macrumors 603


    Maybe 2.1 :D

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