How to Use Your Apple Watch’s Hidden Web Browser (And Why You Shouldn’t)
The Apple Watch might not include Safari in its list of apps, but the browser is definitely there, just waiting to render web pages. While browsing your favorite websites from your wrist might seem convenient, some obstacles still exist.
Three Ways to Access the Apple Watch Browser
To access the Apple Watch browser, you will need to tap on a link. There are three surefire ways to get a link using stock apps in watchOS. There may be more if you use third-party apps, which you can install using the Watch app on your iPhone or directly on the watch.
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The easiest way to launch the browser is to ask Siri to do so. To do this, press and hold the Digital Crown button to trigger Siri, then say “search for howtogeek.com” or the website you want to launch.
You can also use “Hey, Siri” or just raise your wrist speak if these options are enabled in your Apple Watch settings.
From there, Siri will search the web and offer you a list of websites. Tap “Open Page” to open a website in a browser overlay.
Search engines like Google, DuckDuckGo and Bing allow you to undertake deeper browsing sessions, but often searching directly for what you need is the easiest way to get where you want to go.
2. Use posts
While Siri is the most convenient way to launch the watchOS browser, you can also use Messages. All you need is a link to tap on a Messages conversation. If someone sends you a link, you can tap it to launch the browser and take a look.
To access a web page of your choice using this method, you will need to send the link to yourself. It’s not so bad if you have one Apple Watch Series 7 or later with a full wrist keyboard. Third-party messaging apps may also support this feature.
Finally, you can also tap links in emails. Like the Messages method, this requires a link to be present in an incoming email.
You can type (or dictate) and email a link. Once received, you can tap the link to open the webpage.
We found launching the browser via the Apple Watch imprecise and a bit awkward. And there are several reasons for this.
To begin with, we had some rendering issues on our Apple Watch Series 4. As you can see in the screenshot below from the How-To Geek homepage, the images didn’t appear and l alignment of some elements is disabled.
While performing web searches using Siri is the best method to use, it still requires patience and some thoughtful search cues. For example, telling Siri to “search wikipedia.com” opens an App Store link rather than Wikipedia.
Since Siri includes information from Wikipedia, saying “search iPhone Wikipedia” doesn’t give you a link but a summary of the topic.
You have to remember to say “search the web” for these queries, and even then you have to hope that Bing (which Siri uses) gets the right results.
The other methods are even less useful since you have to use specific web addresses. If you’re using an Apple Watch without a keyboard, you’ll need to use Apple’s “scribble” text input method, which often confuses the letter “o” with the number “0”. This can cause many “.com” links to fail.
The Mail and Messages methods can be made a little more convenient by sending messages to each other, but that’s still not the most enjoyable way to browse the web. Dictating a web address is fine, but if you’re using your voice, it’s best to use Siri.
To make more specific queries, use a search engine as a starting point, such as Google, DuckDuckGo, or Bing.
Sometimes pages open in Reader mode by default, which makes the reading experience more useful at the cost of webpage functionality. If this happens, tap the address bar to switch to “Web View” instead.
Using a browser on your wrist isn’t the most comfortable option. No watch is designed to be used for an extended period. You may experience physical discomfort from holding your wrist in an extended position. Although short browsing sessions are feasible, longer sessions may not be possible.
If you’re serious about browsing the web on your Apple Watch, a third-party browser might be worth overcoming some of the hurdles we discussed above.
Of the free Apple Watch browsers we tried, parity is the only option we recommend. The browser renders a page separately and then sends a snapshot to your Apple Watch, so you don’t have as many rendering issues as you do using the methods above.
The app works as expected, letting you search and enter web addresses just like in Safari.
The interface even makes a few tweaks, like providing shortcuts for common web address prefixes and suffixes like “www.” and “.com” to make things a little easier.
It’s still a little tedious to use on an Apple Watch model before the Series 7 because of the lack of a physical keyboard.
The “scribble” input method doesn’t work very well for precise web addresses, and dictating URLs out loud won’t suit everyone’s tastes.
Leave browsing to your other devices
Your other devices, such as your iPhone or iPad, are much better suited for browsing. Yet there are still plenty of reasons to use an Apple Watch, whether you like outdoor activities like hiking, finding motivation for your fitness journey, or potentially life-saving features like heart health notifications or fall detection.