It’s a nice feeling when software works as it should, but that’s not always the case. In the case of the Apple Watch, notifications that are supposed to be tapping on your wrist may not work when you expect them to.
If you’re having problems with your Apple Watch not receiving the notifications your iPhone is putting out, then you’ll want to follow the steps in this piece to troubleshoot what’s going on and fix the problem.
Apple Watch isn’t getting notifications
There is a wide array of situations for why your Apple Watch isn’t providing you with the notifications you expect, but we’ll start with the most simplistic and work our way down to the more detailed troubleshooting steps so you waste as little time as possible.
Whether notifications aren’t tapping your wrist, or they don’t appear on the screen at all, here are some things to look into:
Does your iPhone have Bluetooth enabled? Without Bluetooth, Apple Watch will miss out on many notifications from various apps. There are, however, some apps that use Wi-Fi to grab notifications, such as the Messages app, but you will want to make sure Bluetooth isn’t turned off on your iPhone so that the rest of your notifications are synced properly.
Is the Apple Watch paired with your iPhone? In order for your Apple Watch to get notifications, it needs to be paired with an iPhone that forwards the information to it. Check to see that you have paired your Apple Watch with your iPhone. If you already have, it’s possible that a recent iPhone restore or software update may have kicked your Apple Watch off and it needs to be re-paired again.
Is your Apple Watch in range of a known Wi-Fi network? If your Apple Watch is in range of a Wi-Fi network you’ve used on your iPhone before, then it can check for notifications from many stock iOS apps and even some other apps when your iPhone isn’t in range. If you’re not in range of a known Wi-Fi network, and your iPhone isn’t anywhere to be found, this is why you’re not getting notifications.
Does your iPhone have an internet connection? If your iPhone has no internet connection, and your Apple Watch doesn’t either, then there’s no way for your Apple Watch to get notifications in the first place. This can happen sometimes when you’re in the middle of nowhere with poor cellular reception and no nearby known Wi-Fi networks.
Is the Apple Watch locked? A locked Apple Watch displays a blue lock icon in the Status Bar. When the Apple Watch is locked, it assumes that the user isn’t using it and it prevents any notifications from tapping on your wrist and from displaying on the screen in order to protect your privacy. Try unlocking the device with your passcode to see if notifications work afterwards. Keep in mind that the Apple Watch will auto-lock every time it is removed from your wrist or is restarted.
Do you have Do Not Disturb enabled? With Do Not Disturb, your Apple Watch will stop tapping your wrist and making any sounds until the feature has been disabled. Do Not Disturb is indicated by a purple moon icon in the Status Bar. If you see this, you’ll need to disable Do Not Disturb to receive notifications on the Apple Watch.
Check your Apple Watch notification settings: The Apple Watch has individual settings for notifications; by default, they will mirror your iPhone, but it’s possible that you’ve configured certain apps not to show notifications on the Apple Watch. Ensure that all apps you want to see notifications from are enabled on the Apple Watch from the Settings app on the device’s Home screen.
Ensure haptic vibrations are enabled: If you aren’t getting tapped on the wrist by your Apple Watch like you should be when you get notifications, then check to make sure you have haptic vibrations set high enough from the Apple Watch’s settings such that you can actually feel the feedback from the vibrations. Too low of a setting will cause you to miss notifications and give you the feeling that you’re not being notified at all.
Reboot the Apple Watch: Apple Watch has been known for being glitchy. Try turning it off and on again by pressing and holding on the side button near the digital crown and then sliding the power off slider. Then, press and hold the power button again until you see the Apple logo and wait for it to start back up again.
Delete and reinstall the troubled app(s): If the notification problems are only occuring for certain apps, and not all of them, then the app may have not installed correctly on the Apple Watch. This is a common problem due to the installation process, which is 100% wireless between the Apple Watch and the iPhone, rather than from the Apple Watch itself. Try deleting the app and reinstalling it via the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
Check for software updates for your Apple Watch: If notifications aren’t working at all, try checking for a watchOS update. The watchOS 2 update for the Apple Watch changed the way apps work on the Apple Watch by a long shot, and if you’re still using an outdated version of watchOS, then you might not be getting the full notification experience. You can check for updates from the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
Restore the Apple Watch: If all else fails, you can always try restoring your Apple Watch to factory settings. It’s possible you may have a corrupted watchOS installation, or that something in the software just decided it was going to forget how it was supposed to work. Resetting to factory settings means your Apple Watch should work once again like a brand new and out-of-the-box device.
Contact Apple: If nothing else is working, it’s possible a radio transmitter or a taptic engine inside of the Apple Watch is no longer working and you may need to contact Apple for a repair or replacement. Hopefully this isn’t the case, but it happens. Apple should be able to resolve the problem, however.
Apple Watch is a fun wearable accessory for the iPhone, but when notifications fail to present themselves to you on your wrist as you would expect them to, it can lead to missed notifications that can spoil important events or keep people waiting longer than they want to for a response.
Hopefully after going through with these steps, you have your notifications back up and running again on your device, but if not, we encourage you to share your solution in the comments below to help other readers in a similar scenario.