In what’s been dubbed by some as the “missing iPhone feature”, both iOS 12 and watchOS 5 enable users to make and receive phone calls on their watches, delivering on a promise Apple first made in 2015, when it announced the feature for the iPhone. And it’s coming to the Apple Watch Series 4, and to both the current Series 3 and Series 1, too. So, why is it happening now?
Whether or not you’re a fan of the company, Apple is at the forefront of consumer technology, and that means some groundbreaking ideas that just need time to mature. At the moment, the answer to that question is “apparently”.
The very first indication we had that this was actually happening was via an eagle-eyed reader, who noticed the system status display on his Apple Watch indicating that it would be able to do it.
However, it seems that it’s been available for some time, as some users have reported the option in their Apple Watch app in the last few weeks, and some third-party watchOS apps already had it enabled.
In fact, we ourselves spotted the feature shortly after publishing this article, and we had to make sure it wasn’t a bad extension of our server error.
At first glance, it seems that the same Live Listen feature available for headphones can be used to place and receive calls, via your Watch. That’s the first thing that pops to mind, and it seems that it does work. But, just because you can do it doesn’t necessarily mean that it should be done.
As the new call-integration feature will need your phone to be running at least iOS 12.1 or watchOS 5.0.1 to work, both are currently available on any iPhone that was eligible for the iOS 12 beta. That’s around 82.1% of all iPhone users, according to Apple’s developer site.
However, if you want to be able to place and receive calls on your Watch, you’ll need an Apple Watch Series 4, or an Apple Watch Series 3, which is compatible with watchOS 5 and which you’ll need to upgrade to activate the feature.
Features that are new to the Apple Watch Series 4
What you’ll notice is that the focus seems to be on the dial pad and your Caller ID. At first glance, it looks like you can call any number you can already call on your iPhone – that includes those in the contacts list, because the call doesn’t go through.
However, you can’t make calls from the home screen on the watch, so that’s something that’s going to need addressing. Also, you have to be looking at your Watch to do it, which is a bit fiddly if you’re looking down at your iPhone screen.
Read more: Best iPad games with keyboard support in 2021.
When it does work, though, the interface looks nice and slick. We just have one gripe, and that’s the fact that you can’t directly place a call from the Siri watch face – that means you have to navigate through the rest of the screen first, which is an extra step.
Also, there’s no way to listen to a phone call through the Apple Watch, even if it does work. It seems you can listen to a call over the speaker, but you can’t place a voice call – at least, not yet.
To answer a call, you’ll need to hold down the side button for around a second, and that’s a tiny bit of a fiddle when your phone is sitting a metre away from your Watch.
It’s perhaps a good idea, though, as an easy-to-access option to take calls when you don’t have your phone with you, so that you can ignore that call.