What You Can Do with the Apple Watch without a Paired Phone

Listen to Music, View Photos and More

Apple Watch

If you have an Apple Watch — and perhaps even if you don't — you likely know that much of the device's functionality requires having a smartphone paired with the smartwatch via Bluetooth. 

One of the biggest criticisms of smartwatches and other similar wearables to date is that they're merely an extension of the smartphone, and can't act very independently of your handset. And while it's true that you'll need your phone nearby to enjoy features such as receiving notifications and incoming messages, there are still quite a few things you can accomplish when your phone is back at home or simply turned off.

Keep on reading to discover them.

Play Music from a Synced Playlist

You can pair your Apple Watch with Bluetooth headphones to enjoy music without needing to have your iPhone on hand. To do this, you'll need to go to the Music app and select your Apple Watch as the source. Then you need to scroll down and select Now Playing, My Music, or Playlists.

Note: You can only keep one playlist on your Apple Watch at a time. To sync a playlist, the smartwatch must be connected to its charger. Go to your iPhone and make sure Bluetooth is on, and then go to the Watch app and select the My Watch tab, then Music > Synced Playlist. From there, select the playlist you want to sync.

Read How to Control Music on Your Apple Watch for more details. 

Use the Alarm and Other Time Features

You don't need to have your Apple Watch connected to the iPhone to set alarms and use the timer and stopwatch. And of course, the device still functions as a watch without needing any assistance from your smartphone.

Track Your Daily Movement with the Activity and Workout Apps

The Apple Watch can still display your up-to-date activity stats without being connected to your iPhone. As a refresher, the Activity app on the smartwatch displays your progress toward daily movement and exercise goals. The app also tracks calories and can suggest daily goals, and it breaks your activity down into movement and exercise — the latter of which is any activity performed at a brisk level.

Of course, paired with your iPhone, this app has the ability to display much more information — such as an overview of your daily stats for the month.

You can also use the Apple Watch's app independently of the iPhone. This app shows real-time stats such as elapsed time, calories, pace, speed and more for a variety of different exercise activities. It's a pretty good feature set — maybe enough for some people to question their need for a standalone activity tracker!

Display Photos

Provided you've synced a given photo album via the Photos app, you can view it on your watch even when your phone isn't connected.

Connect to Select Wi-Fi Networks

It's important to note there's a caveat here: Your Apple Watch can connect to a Wi-Fi network if it's one you've connected to previously using the paired iPhone. So basically, if you've used Wi-Fi with your watch and phone paired previously, that network should be accessible if in the future you don't have the two devices paired.

If you can connect with just the Apple Watch, you can enjoy a few more features. You can use Siri; send and receive iMessages; and make and receive phone calls, among other functionality.

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