watchOS 3.1.1 disables Lock feature in Control Center—here are four workarounds

By , Dec 14, 2016

watchOS 3.1.1 Control Center Apple Watch screenshot 001

Don’t bother trying to lock your Apple Watch by tapping a dedicated Lock button in Control Center!

That’s because watchOS 3.1.1 update (currently pulled over bricking complaints) has killed that button. It’s not a bug—the feature disappeared from Control Center in the first beta of watchOS 3.1.1.

I’m unsure as to why Apple has tweaked how manual unlocking works, but am certainly not a fan of the change. Actually, I’ve felt so ticked off by this apparent “feature” of watchOS 3.1.1 that I’ve decided to come up with a few workaround solutions for those of us who manually lock our watches before going to sleep.

It’s a feature, not a bug!

Mind you, this issue is real and affects all Apple Watch models with watchOS 3.1.1, as evidenced by feedback sent to Apple, this thread on Reddit and another one posted on the Apple Developer Forum.

In a nutshell, watchOS 3.1.1 no longer displays the dedicated Lock option at the bottom of Control Center when the Wrist Detection feature is enabled. And you guessed right—you’re now forced to disable Wrist Detection in order to be able to manually lock the watch using the toggle in Control Center.

Workaround #1: disable Wrist Detection

On your Apple Watch, go to Settings → General → Wrist Detection, then slide the Wrist Detection toggle to the OFF position. You will be asked to punch in your passcode and tap Turn Off to confirm the operation.

And just like that, the Lock toggle re-appears in Control Center!

watchOS 3.1.1 Wrist Detection off Control Center Apple Watch screenshot 001

Now swipe up from the bottom of your watch face to get to Control Center, then tap Lock to manually lock the watch. On the downside, disabling Wrist Detection prevents auto-locking when the watch is not worn. That said, best thing you make a mental note to avoid forgetting locking the watch manually every time you take it off.

When you turn Wrist Detection off, some Activity information will be unavailable, Auto Unlock will stop working and all your cards on Apple Pay will get removed so this really isn’t the best solution.

Workaround #2: use Water Lock

If you’re anything like me, you’ll forget to manually lock the watch when you’re not wearing it. If that’s the case, leave Wrist Detection on and instead use the Water Lock button in Control Center (it looks like a droplet of water).

Apple Watch series 2 water lock

This prevents accidental interactions with the display.

Your watch face remains visible, but the screen no longer responds to taps and you cannot use apps and other features unless you turn the Digital Crown to disable Water Lock.

Apple Watch Series 2 speaker image 006
The downside: Water Lock is available for Apple Watch Series 2 only and unlocking from Water Lock plays a loud beeping tone to expel any water from the speaker.

Workaround #3: Lock your watch via Workout app

Owners of the original Apple Watch and Apple Watch Series 1 might be interested in this method over other workarounds: start a workout in the Workout app, then swipe right and hit the Lock button to shut down the display and disable touch input.

watchOS 3 Workout lock space gray Apple Watch screenshot 001

To unlock, just turn the Digital Crown. Be sure to avoid saving the workout after unlocking the device to prevent unwanted workout data from being added to Health database.

Albeit clunky, this method works on all Apple Watch models.

Workaround #4: take the watch off & put it back on

Not only is this the simplest workaround, but one that works on all Apple Watch models. With Wrist Detection enabled, simply take Apple Watch off from your wrist, wait a few seconds until the wearable device locks itself, then put it back on.

What about Unlock with iPhone feature?

You can make it so unlocking iPhone automatically unlocks Apple Watch, if it’s worn.

Unfortunately, the Unlock with iPhone feature doesn’t work the other way round: your watch won’t lock itself when the phone is locked, even if Unlock with iPhone is on under the My Watch → Passcode → Unlock with iPhone section in the companion Watch app.

Still dissatisfied? Talk to Apple!

Not sure about you, but yours truly is very annoyed by this change.

I used to hit that Lock button every night before nap time to prevent accidental interactions with the display while I’m asleep. Yes, I’ve been using Water Lock since watchOS 3.1.1 enter beta, but that doesn’t change the fact that the loud beeping heard when exiting Water Lock mode is driving me crazy every single morning.

My current solution: before going to bed I take my watch off, wait a bit until it locks itself, then put it back on.

If you want, feel free to send feedback to Apple about the new way of locking Apple Watch in watchOS 3.1.1 and be sure to let them know you’re not happy with it.

You can do so at apple.com/feedback/watch.html.

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  • fastasleep

    How often do you accidentally interact with the Watch in your sleep? I’ve never had that happen, at least not in any noticeable way.

    • askep3

      I agree, for me the watch wont even turn on when I’m laying down

  • websyndicate

    I never wear it sleeping so yea.

    • Glen Goodwin

      I used to use the manual lock when using my series 2 around or in water. The moving water droplets on the unlocked screen launch apps, make unwanted phone calls and the list goes on. Can’t wait until it dials 911! Now I have to remove my watch before getting it wet.

      Try it yourself and let everyone know how you make out.

      Bring it back Apple!

  • Anonymouse

    ‘Ticked off by this feature’-I see what you did there.
    Seriously though jI don’t think there has been a period in Apple’s history with so many defects/complaints/probkems that are plaguing just about every single device released in the last 12 months. Except Airport Express but they’re not making those anymore. What is going on?

    • fastasleep

      One might ask if there’s actually a need to manually lock the Watch screen on a regular basis that this is somehow a real problem, versus a perceived problem which I find a lot of the recent complaints about various Apple products to be (not that there aren’t real legit problems as well, but I don’t think this is one of them).

  • Firedomain

    I’m just surprised that you wear it to bed… how on earth does the battery last? & when are you charging it? would have thought the battery life would make it useless for sleep tracking…

    • fastasleep

      I can easily make it through an entire day and night on my first gen, it doesn’t use a ton of battery while you’re sleeping. I just choose to charge it at night.

  • JR

    Ive gone basically 2 days with my S1 with out a charge though I just normally take my watch off and charge it while I’m getting ready. So I do sleep with it, I just turn off wake screen on wrist raise.

    • fastasleep

      why bother? unless you’re constantly waving your arm around the right way in your sleep, the impact on battery life if going to be minimal.

      • JR

        because it is one option for preventing screen interaction. Which is mainly the complaint with not being able to manually lock an Apple Watch now and not so much about battery life.

      • fastasleep

        Right, but I guess what I’m asking is if this is actually a problem that needs addressing. I’ve slept with my watch on many times and not like, awoken to find I’ve digital touch-dialed my ex girlfriends in my sleep or something.

      • JR

        Apparently enough are bothered by this “feature” that this article was created. My self I do not have an issue with this. Was just adding to the options for preventing screen interaction.

  • I really don’t get. I didn’t saw that this is missing cause I’ve never seen or used this in my life.

    I’m still trying to understand what kind of situations locking your Apple Watch is so much needed.

    Please anyone?

  • ProllyWild

    Holy sh*t, there was a lock button!?

    Won’t miss it….

  • oh yes. SO annoyed by Apple removing the manually lock option! I used it all the time.

    • fastasleep

      why?

      • Here’s my situation every day at work: I sit at my Mac and receive tons of notifications throughout the day. I have my iPhone sitting in front of me too and it helps me see all the notifications as they come in – acts as a hub for notifications if you will. If Im wearing my Apple Watch, then my iPhone doesn’t show the notifications and I have to take my arm off the keyboard (which it rarely ever leaves the keyboard throughout the day), raise it up and see what the notification(s) is. And I can only see 1 at a time. So prior to OS 3.1.1, I’d just lock the watch and continue to get notifications on my iPhone. Now if I DID have to step away from the computer, I’d just unlock my watch so that I could move about and still get the notifications (on the watch). When I come back to my Mac, I’d lock the watch and continue as normal. So Apple removing the manual lock option for no apparent reason, has disputed my work flow and efficiency. I’d be nice if Apple even gave us the option to choose which buttons are in control center.

  • hmm interesting. I havent thought about using DND. I don’t know if i love that option but I turned off DND mirroring and will test it out. thanks for the info.