“A few early Apple Watch Series 3 GPS + Cellular reviewers noticed significant connection problems with their Apple Watch review units,” Serenity Caldwell writes for iMore.
“Essentially, the Series 3 GPS + Cellular watch tries to save battery life at all times by using your iPhone’s connection, or failing that, a Wi-Fi network,” Caldwell writes. “What’s happening here is that the watch is attempting to jump on a so-called ‘captive’ network — a public network with an interstitial login prompt or terms and conditions agreement. (You’ve probably seen these at a Starbucks, McDonalds, or Panera.)”
“In theory, the Apple Watch shouldn’t be allowed to connect to captive networks at all, because there’s no way for it to get through that interstitial layer. Unfortunately, watchOS 4 has a bug where captive networks are being recognized identically to normal saved Wi-Fi networks — so while you’re technically ‘connected’ to a network, you won’t be able to connect to the internet; nor will you be able to go to cellular, because the Watch’s auto-switching prevents you from connecting,” Caldwell writes. “Apple will be releasing a software fix at some point in the future to prevent this, but it’s a pretty frustrating bug to have run into so late in the process — did no engineers visit Starbucks while testing the Series 3 without their iPhone? In any case, no, this isn’t a problem with the watch’s Cellular service.”
MacDailyNews Take: Apple screwed the pooch here. They should’ve caught this and fixed it months ago, not sent it out to reviewers.
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Here we see the limitations of having a closed beta versus a public beta where a glaringly obvious issue like this would have been easily fixed early in the process. Apple should be able to fix this rather easily via watchOS update.
That Apple missed this rather simple issue and allowed review units to go out with it resulting in some pretty bad reviews shows a concerning lack of attention the detail. Apple Watch Series 3 deserved better.
Apple issued a statement to The Verge via email:
We have discovered that when Apple Watch Series 3 joins unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks without connectivity, it may at times prevent the watch from using cellular. We are investigating a fix for a future software release.
The Loop‘s Jim Dalrymple explains Apple Watch connectivity:
The first thing the Apple Watch will try to do is connect to your iPhone. If your iPhone is off or not around, it will try to find a known Wi-Fi network, whether you’re at home or not. If it finds one, it will connect to make and receive phone calls. If it can’t find a Wi-Fi network, it will then connect to the cellular network.
It knows the Wi-Fi networks that it should connect to because it is paired with your iPhone. Whatever networks are on there, will be on the watch too.
You can check to see where your Apple Watch is connected by swiping up on the Watch screen. It will show a picture of an iPhone, Wi-Fi, or cellular connection.