Connecting your Apple Watch to Wi-Fi is certainly nothing new, but the way you have control over the process has gone through some change with the smartwatch’s more recent software iterations.
The basic rule is still the same: if your iPhone is in range, the Apple Watch will piggyback off either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi in order to communicate. However, this naturally gets complicated with a cellular connection and the new ability to choose your own network through watchOS 5.
Read this: Apple Watch tips and tricks
Want to learn how to connect the Apple Watch to Wi-Fi? Read our quick guide below, as we run through how to find, choose and control your options on the watch. And if you want details on how to get LTE on the Apple Watch, jump over.
How to connect the Apple Watch to a Wi-Fi network
As we’ve just alluded to, you don’t really need to do anything for your Apple Watch to connect to Wi-Fi, as long as it’s in the range of your iPhone. If it is, it’ll switch between using the Bluetooth connection and Wi-Fi to communicate, depending on which is the more power-efficient at that moment. Clever, right?
However, while there’s no input needed on your end for the Watch to simply communicate in this instance, you’re going to have to make sure Wi-Fi is turned on in the control center on the iPhone. If you do go out of range and the Watch is connected over Wi-Fi and not Bluetooth (more on that below), a Wi-Fi icon will appear in the control center – that also needs to be turned on.
Choose a Wi-Fi network on the Apple Watch
Above, we’ve talked about how the Apple Watch handles Wi-Fi when connected to the iPhone – but what if the phone isn’t in range? Well, even when your iPhone isn’t nearby, your Apple Watch can still connect to Wi-Fi. However, in order to choose a Wi-Fi network for your Apple Watch connects to, you’ll need watchOS 5 or later.
Here’s how to pick a specific network, for when you’re away from your iPhone and don’t want to use the Apple Watch cellular capabilities.
- Open the Settings app on your Apple Watch and tap ‘Wi-Fi’.
- Your device will then begin searching for networks.
- Tap the name of the network that you want to join. Note that your Apple Watch can only connect to 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi networks.
- If asked, enter the password with the Scribble tool, then tap ‘Join’.
If you’re Apple Watch isn’t connecting, it’s likely due to one of the two below parameters not being met:
- Your iPhone, while connected to your Watch over Bluetooth, needs to have connected to the network at a previous date before the Watch can connect over the Wi-Fi independently.
- Again, the Wi-Fi network needs to be 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz, since the Apple Watch can’t connect to 5GHz Wi-Fi or public Wi-Fi that requires a login or profile.
Turn the Apple Watch Wi-Fi on and off
There are, of course, instances when you don’t want to connect to Wi-Fi, or want to take a break. Maybe your cellular connection is better than the network your Watch keeps joining automatically, or maybe you just want to find out how to turn it back on after going off the grid – either way, here’s how:
- On the Watch, bring the control center up, then swipe up to bring up the view in the image above.
- Tap the Wi-Fi icon to turn off/on the connection. The icon will dim if the device is disconnecting from networks, and light blue when connected.
Note that you’ll need a cellular version of the Apple Watch Series 3 or Series 4 in order to disconnect from Wi-Fi networks. And if you do, Wi-Fi won’t automatically turn itself back on until you repeat the step above manually, enter a new location, restart your device or hit 5am in your location.
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