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The Communications Abilities of Your Apple Watch

This chapter from The Apple Watch Book: Master the most personal computer in your life covers the communication abilities of Apple Watch, including calling, texting, and using Digital Touch to reach your contacts. This section also covers how to set up and use Apple Pay on your watch, and more.
This chapter is from the book

The afternoon is upon us, and all the Petersons are hard at work either in the office, the home office, or at school. This section will delve into the communication abilities of Apple Watch, including calling, texting, and using Digital Touch to reach your contacts. This section also covers how to set up and use Apple Pay on your watch, and more.

Making Phone Calls

While at the office Bob has to make lots of phone calls, and he generally does so from his iPhone. However, since Bob has a new toy in his Apple Watch, he wants to use it as often as possible. Apple Watch can make phone calls, and you can even talk to people by holding the watch up to your mouth much like Dick Tracy. There are a few things to keep in mind about Apple Watch telephony:

  • It requires that the paired iPhone be in range.
  • Apple Watch only has a speaker phone, unless you’ve paired a Bluetooth headset to it (more on that later).
  • All phone calls initiated from your Apple Watch actually come from your iPhone, so that’s the number people will see on their caller ID.

To call someone in your contacts from your Apple Watch:

  1. Press the Digital Crown until you’re in the Home screen.
  2. Tap the Phone app icon (Figure 4.1).

    Figure 4.1

    Figure 4.1 The Phone app icon.

  3. The Phone interface appears (Figure 4.2). Your favorites, recent phone calls, and contacts are all listed here.

    Figure 4.2

    Figure 4.2 You can access favorites, recent calls, contacts, and voicemail right from your watch.

    Favorites mirrors your favorites on your iPhone (Figure 4.3). Tap here and then tap the favorite that you want to call.

    Figure 4.3

    Figure 4.3 Favorites mirror those on your iPhone.

    Recents lists all the recent phone calls you’ve received or made (Figure 4.4). If the call was from/to a contact, that person’s name and the label of the number involved with the call is displayed. Outgoing calls are denoted by a small telephone icon, whereas incoming calls have no icon. Any calls in red represent missed calls. Tap any of these to call that person/number.

    Figure 4.4

    Figure 4.4 Recent calls. Any in red are missed calls.

    Contacts allows you to scroll through your entire contact list using your finger or the Digital Crown (Figure 4.5). Tap on a contact to see their picture (if one is assigned to them) and two contact buttons: call and text. Tap the call button and Apple Watch will make the call (Figure 4.6). For contacts with multiple phone numbers you’ll first have to tap the phone number you want to call (Figure 4.7).

    Figure 4.5

    Figure 4.5 Your phone’s contacts are accessible on your Apple Watch.

    Figure 4.6

    Figure 4.6 The phone call screen allows you to mute and cancel a call.

    Figure 4.7

    Figure 4.7 If a contact has more than one number associated with them, you must tap the number you want to call.

  4. When your friend picks up, tell them all about how you’re talking to them from your wrist.

While you’re on the phone call, the duration of the call is displayed, along with a volume bar, a call end button, and the mute button (Figure 4.8). Tapping the mute button mutes your microphone, and tapping the call end button ends the call.

Figure 4.8

Figure 4.8 When you’re on a call, tap the red button to hang up. Turn the Digital Crown to adjust the volume.

Since this call is actually being placed via your iPhone, your friend’s phone will display your normal phone number (your Apple Watch doesn’t have a number of its own). If you turn on your iPhone’s display, you’ll notice a green banner at the top of the screen that says “Touch to return to call” (Figure 4.9). If you tap on this banner while you’re on a phone call via your Apple Watch, the phone call will transfer to your phone, seamlessly. This is called Handoff, and it’s a feature that, well, hands off various activities from one device to another.

Figure 4.9

Figure 4.9 Calls originate on your iPhone, so you can easily switch devices by tapping the green banner.

Calling someone using Siri

You can also call people just by telling your Apple Watch to do so. Siri, Apple’s voice-powered assistant, is able to make phone calls on your behalf. This is great when you’re driving or you just don’t want to have to follow as many steps to make a call. To use Siri to call folks:

  1. Press the Digital Crown until Siri is activated.
  2. Say “Call someone in your contacts” where someone in your contacts is a person in your contacts.
  3. If there is only one match to the name and there is only one phone number associated with that contact, Siri will place the call immediately. If there are multiple matches (name or phone number), all of the matches will be displayed (Figure 4.10). Tap the one you meant. If there are no matches, Siri will display an error (Figure 4.11).

    Figure 4.10

    Figure 4.10 Siri can make calls, but if there are contacts who share names, or have multiple numbers, she needs a little help.

    Figure 4.11

    Figure 4.11 If Siri can’t find the person in your contacts, you’ll get this error message.

Answering calls

It stands to reason that if you can make calls from your watch, you can answer them as well. When your iPhone receives a phone call it will ring, just as it normally does (respecting whatever ringtone/vibration settings you have made), but your Apple Watch will also ring and tap you on the wrist.

If someone in your contacts is calling, their name and phone number displays on the screen along with two buttons: decline (red) and accept (green) (Figure 4.12).

Figure 4.12

Figure 4.12 Incoming calls display the name of the contact who is calling.

Tapping the green button accepts the call and takes you to the phone call interface, where you can mute, change the volume, and hang up.

Tapping the decline (red) button sends the caller straight to voicemail.


Bob always declines any call from an unknown number, so he gets a lot of voicemail. He can check his voicemail without having to fish his phone out of his pocket by following these steps:

  1. Press the Digital Crown until the Home screen is displayed and tap the Phone icon.
  2. Tap the Voicemail button.
  3. Your watch displays your list of voicemails, with the most recent first (Figure 4.13). The name or number of the person call is displayed in white, with the duration of the message and the date underneath in gray. Tap on a voicemail entry.

    Figure 4.13

    Figure 4.13 The Voicemail list includes the name of the contact and the length and date of the message.

  4. Here you see some information about the voicemail you’ve tapped, along with two buttons: call and delete (Figure 4.14). Tap the call button to call the number who left the voicemail and tap the delete button to delete the voicemail completely.

    Figure 4.14

    Figure 4.14 Tap the play button to listen to the voicemail. The green button calls the contact back; the red button deletes the voicemail.

    Right in the center of the screen is the play button. Tap it and you’re taken to the voicemail playback screen (Figure 4.15). The voicemail starts to play, and you can adjust the volume by tapping the plus and minus buttons at the top or by turning the Digital Crown.

    Figure 4.15

    Figure 4.15 When you’re playing back a voicemail, use the Digital Crown to adjust the volume.

    The two buttons at the bottom of the screen skip back 5 seconds (left) and forward 5 seconds (right).

    Force touch or tap the name of the contact/phone number to return to the previous voicemail screen, where you can delete the voicemail.

When you receive a voicemail, a notification appears on your watch (Figure 4.16). Tap it and there’s a playback control right in the notification (Figure 4.17). Tap the play button to listen to it and scroll down, and you’ll find Call Back and Message buttons. Tapping the Message button allows you to send a text message in reply.

Figure 4.16

Figure 4.16 A voicemail notification.

Figure 4.17

Figure 4.17 Tap on the notification and you can play the voicemail right there.

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