Designed as a versatile companion to the iPhone, the Apple Watch uses the GPS and Wi-Fi in your iPhone to give you the full experience. That’s why the very first step before you can start using the Watch is pairing it to an iPhone in iOS’s Apple Watch application.

But even though the wearable device wasn’t conceived as a standalone product, it can still do a few tricks on its own, without having a paired iPhone in range. Here are seven different things the Apple Watch can do without being tethered to an iPhone.

Tell time and use alarms, timers and stopwatch

Your Apple Watch doesn’t need an iPhone to let you use the watch face, alarms, timers and the stopwatch. This includes checking the time in cities around the globe using the World Clock app.

Apple Watch Clock teaser 001

Tip: You can set timers up to 24 hours using the Timer app on the Apple Watch. To set a timer for longer than 12 hours, force-press the Watch screen while adjusting the timer, then tap 24.

Track your activity

Your Apple Watch monitors how much you stand, move and exercise without its paired iPhone. The Activity app keeps track of how often you stand up, how much you move and how many minutes of exercise you do.

The Activity rings can be put right on your watch face as a Complication, accessed through a Glance or viewed directly inside the Watch’s Activity app. The device suggests goals based on your previous performance.

The Activity app on your iPhone synchronizes data with your Watch while keeping a long-term record of all your activity. In addition, all of your data is automatically stored in the iPhone’s Health app while avoiding duplication.

Apple Watch Activity teaser 001

Tip: To change your move goal, force-touch the screen inside the Activity app on your Watch. Every Monday, the Watch will notify you about the previous week’s achievements, letting you adjust your daily Move goal for the coming week.

Track workouts

You can manage your individual workout sessions on the Watch, set specific goals and summarizes your results without having an iPhone nearby. That’s because that the device can learn about your stride enough over time to start accurately track workouts without an iPhone.

Apple Watch Workout teaser 001

“If you’re working out where GPS is unavailable (for example, indoors), Apple Watch uses the stored information about your stride to measure distance,” says Apple. Early tests have confirmed that the Apple Watch is as accurate a standalone fitness tracker as dedicated devices like the GPS-enabled Garmin FR 610.

Tip: You only need to run with Apple Watch and your iPhone a few times to help the Workout app use the iPhone’s GPS to calibrate your stride. As a result, you’ll be able to run on a treadmill or outside without your phone and still get a really accurate workout summary.

Play music

You can listen to songs on Bluetooth headphones or speakers from playlists that have been synchronized on your Watch without your iPhone nearby. To put songs on your Watch, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tap My Watch, go to Music > Synced Playlist and choose the playlist of songs you want to move to Apple Watch.

Apple Watch Music teaser 001

Tip:You must place the Watch on its charger to complete the syncing process. Playlists containing songs you want to listen to on your Watch can be created in the iPhone’s Music app.

Enjoy your photos

Similar to music, you can display photos from synced photo albums on your Apple Watch, even if the paired iPhone is unavailable. By default, the Watch syncs the photos you’ve tagged as favorites on your iPhone, but you can change the album it uses at any time.

Apple Watch Photos teaser 001

To browse synced photos on your Apple Watch, open the Photos app on the device and then tap a photo. You can now swipe left or right to see others, drag to pan or turn the Digital Crown to zoom in or all the way out to see the entire album.

Tip: To choose the photo album to store on Apple Watch, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tap My Watch, go to Photos > Synced Album, then choose the album. You can create a new album for Apple Watch photos using the Photos app on your iPhone.

Make purchases with Apple Pay

Making purchases with Apple Pay on your Apple Watch when an iPhone isn’t nearby is not only possible, but works flawlessly. An Internet connection isn’t required to pay for purchases from your wrist, in stores that accept contactless payments.

Apple Watch Apple Pay teaser 001

Tip: If you unpair your Apple Watch, disable your passcode, or turn off wrist detection, you can’t use Apple Pay. To set up Apple Pay on the Watch and choose which credit or debit cards to use on the device, use the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.

Connect to stored Wi-Fi networks

Although the Apple Watch can’t configure new Wi-Fi networks on its own, it can connect to those you’ve set up on the paired iPhone (since there’s no way to input Wi-Fi login details directly on the Watch).

Apple Watch sunset 001

It’s important to note that the Watch must connect to your iPhone over Bluetooth at least once when you move to a new Wi-Fi network so it can get the new Wi-Fi login details. This may pose additional headache if a Wi-Fi system at your workplace requires you to log on each day by opening a browser tab and putting in your credentials.

Tip: Some users may experience issues with the Watch refusing to connect to the home Wi-Fi network: fix this by switching DHCP from an Airport to a Netgear router.

While it would have been better if the Apple Watch could have been used standalone 100 percent, I personally think it’s pretty great that the device doesn’t require an iPhone for all of its functions.


  • George

    I’m confused with the couple making out

    • Ali

      She is wearing an Apple Watch.

      • mike

        And maybe her partner is analogous to the Apple Watch’s iPhone.

      • George


      • Benedict

        ..her activities in the next hours will be tracked. 🙂

      • Ali

        Was suppose to be a joke, but okay.

    • Waleed

      Dats for attracteeng Viewerz! EH

    • Drocx

      You didnt notice the word companion in the first sentence? That’s the reason 🙂

  • Rodriguez Barnett

    I hear that…if you connected to an existing wifi network on your Apple watch and leave your iPhone at home, the Apple Watch will still be able to receive phone calls and text messages. Is that true?

    • Carlos Alvarez

      That is true. It happened to me a couple days ago. I was able to send/get both SMS and iMessages, phone calls, and see some glances like weather. I was not able to run apps that depend on the phone, but could run apps that are standalone watch apps.

  • Zed

    Where is the
    1: Things your Apple Watch can do that your iPhone can’t
    2: Things your Apple Watch can do that other smartwatches can’t do

    • Anthony Snyder

      Good question, there is a list there. I could name a few.

    • Michele Ruzic

      3: Things you can buy instead spending $350+ for an useless apple watch

      • mjtomlin

        How about…

        4: Things you can do other than wasting your time reading and posting in an article about a product you obviously have no interest in?

  • Tommy Gumbs

    So basically it is an ipod with limited wifi capability that you wear on you wrists. But it can track movement.

    Sound like users would be better off with a Garmin watch. I mean why would i want to look at pictures on a small screen? And music is cool. But ehhhh….not worth the price.

    • Anthony Snyder

      Because it looks so much better than a Garmin watch and you have the ability to improve its features by connecting your phone. Garmin watch can’t do that.

      • Tommy Gumbs

        Debatable. I will ultimately boil down to the reason behind buying the device you choose. Apple was really close with hitting a home run though. Hopefull the watch doesnt meet the same faith as the 5C and never make it to gen2.

      • smtp25

        Aren’t they going to do a 6c?

      • Tommy Gumbs

        Who knows.

      • Tommy Gumbs

        And actually garmin devices do receive updates and more functionality peridically.

      • Michele Ruzic

        wow really awesome, I really want to browse twitter or instagram or BIA 3 or facebook or call someone using Apple watch. Watch which can track your sleep but you cant use this feature due his battery. I tried several watches (including Apple watch) and I find them so useless

      • Rowan09

        You owned one and returned it?

    • smtp25

      Lol did you buy a Garmin and trying to feel good about it now?

      • Tommy Gumbs

        No, I don’t have a Garmin watch. I have 3 Garmin cycling computers though. I will be probably getting a Garmin watch to track health stats while training.,,,but my sponsors will take care of that. 😉

    • Michele Ruzic

      true, I find this smartwatches so useless, who’s so crazy to browse Instagram, twitter or call someone (excluding tim cook) or play games on that screen

  • Vvbreaker

    I know you mentioned the Apple Pay, but does Apple Watch works with Passbook without a paired iPhone ??

  • Salli Mae

    nice pic….. so thats what two douchebags look like when they kiss……