Some reviewers’ Apple Watch Series 3 ‘LTE issues’ due to easily-fixable Wi-Fi bug

“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.

9 Comments

    1. That would be Google, DavGreg. Have you been associating with kent or mike lately? You have become incredibly negative with respect to Apple, and the reason is unclear.

      This is simply an easily fixed configuration bug on a *pre-release* version of the product. This issue will be fixed before the new watch ships to retail, guaranteed.

  1. And of course, the market goes nuts and the stock price tanks based on early unsubstantiated news, as is usual with Apple.

    Why doesn’t the market treat most other companies in a similar fashion?

  2. The other problem with the verge review was that the reviewer deliberately took the watch to an area with poor cellular coverage (I’ve surfed that beach) and then complained about that coverage. It’s incompetent at best, and disingenuous at worst. She did a similar thing with the previous Apple Watch review in which she attempted to use the gps underneath a tree canopy where she knew there would be no signal.

  3. “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.”

    It also shows the ineptitude, microsoftish like, of those engineers in charge of that piece of software.

    There’s also the imbecil rationale of how it is designed to work/connect. Here the imbecil rationale:

    “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.”.

    Can you imagine how long that (getting the successful connection) will take? If all you want to see (glance?) on your watch is the weather (which should take one second or less after you swipe/tap), then you are screwed. That imbecil rationale also has a lot of IF conditions, unbelievable!

    Obviously the protected/interstitial wi-Fi was a plain and stupid oversight Apple’s part.

    The right way for the watch to connect is to USE ITS OWN CELLULAR CAPABILITY FIRST. The other connectivity options should be attempted/tried later/afterwards by the software, and IF found/successful then ASK THE USER if he/she prefers to use any of these alternate connectivity options FOR NOW, instead of the watch cellular capability.

    You are welcome.

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