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How to Browse Websites With Your Apple Watch

published by Chand Bellur
February 21, 2023 at 5:52 p.m. PST
  • The first Apple Watch debuted back in 2015.
  • Apple quickly dominated the smartwatch industry, selling over 100 million units in less than five years.
  • The Apple Watch features an embedded web browser; however, users can’t access it directly.
  • You can browse websites on your Apple Watch by adding web addresses (URLs) to iPhone documents, such as emails, Notes, or Reminders.
  • The Apple Watch browser offers limited functionality but can provide useful access to web-based information.

How to Browse Websites With Your Apple Watch

This article assumes that you own an Apple watch and iPhone, you’ve paired both devices, and you have some understanding of their basic operation. If you’re interested in background information, such as what the Apple Watch is and use cases for browsing the web on your Apple Watch, these are presented later in the article.

Before we begin the step-by-step instructions, let’s go through a brief overview of how to browse websites on your Apple Watch. Your Apple Watch comes with a browser pre-installed, but you can’t launch it directly. It’s only there to support other apps which may need a browser. For example, if someone sends you an email with a link, your Apple Watch has a stripped-down browser to display the website.

Using this document-based approach, the easiest way to browse websites on your Apple Watch is to send an email to yourself on your iPhone with the desired link. When you open the email on your Apple Watch, just tap the link, and the website will open in the “hidden” web browser.

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Now that we have an overview of how to browse websites on an Apple Watch let’s go through the steps:

  1. Open Mail on your iPhone. The Mail app appears.
  2. Tap the compose button on the bottom right corner. A “New Message” screen appears.
  3. Add your own email account to the “To” field. Ensure it’s the same one you use for the iOS and watchOS Mail apps.
  4. Type “Link” or something in the subject field to make the email easy to identify.
  5. Write or copy/paste a complete website address (or multiple URLs) in the body of the email.
  6. Press the send button. You should hear a whooshing sound. Your inbox appears.
  7. Press the digital crown on your Apple Watch and find your Mail app. Tap on it to launch it. The Mail app appears, with the inbox in focus.
  8. If the email isn’t already in your inbox, it should be delivered soon. When it arrives, tap on the email summary. Your email message will open on your Apple Watch.
  9. Tap on the link in the email message body. The website opens in the “secret” Apple Watch browser.

That’s it. As you can see, browsing the web on an Apple Watch is pretty straightforward. Website addresses are so lengthy that entering or dictating them into an Apple Watch would be a chore. That’s probably why Apple doesn’t offer a real browser on watchOS.

  • Check your email ahead of time on your Apple Watch to ensure the message with your link(s) is readily available.
  • Google Search is a handy link to send to your Apple Watch, as you can use its search interface to browse virtually any site.

What is the Apple Watch?

If you’re entirely new to the Apple Watch or are considering purchasing one, this section is for you. We’ll take a look at what an Apple Watch has to offer, in addition to its limitations.

The Apple Watch is an iPhone accessory launched in 2015. Still, to this day, you need an iPhone to use an Apple Watch to its fullest. The only exception is that Apple allows administrators (parents, for example) to set up and maintain an Apple Watch for a non-iPhone user, such as a child.

The Apple Watch isn’t helpful for everyone. I purchased my first Apple Watch about a year ago and rarely use it. Since it’s a non-cellular model, I must carry my iPhone everywhere my Apple Watch goes. My iPhone can accomplish everything an Apple Watch can and more.

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I occasionally use my Apple Watch when running; however, I must fiddle with Apple’s workout software when I reach an intersection, waiting for the pedestrian “walk” signal. I usually don’t do this because I need to press the signal button and watch for the light.

Since my running time is grossly inaccurate with my Apple Watch, I stopped wearing it during runs. It also slips when it gets sweaty, which is another thing to fiddle with on a run. Running is a meditative activity for me, so all of the beeps and voices coming out of my watch are distracting.

Even if I silence the watch, it keeps slipping around when it’s saturated with sweat. It does clean up nicely with a microfiber towel or perhaps an eyeglass wipe if it’s really drenched with sweat.

The Apple Watch may be a smartwatch, but when it comes to outdoor running, it’s kind of dumb. There are multiple methods Apple can use to detect that I’m at an intersection waiting for a signal, but they expect me to pause the workout manually. It may be informative if you run on a treadmill, but most exercise equipment offers better fitness tracking than the Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch is excellent when it comes to navigation. I often wear it on a road trip because it taps my wrist when I need to make a turn. The problem with navigation systems is that you may miss an audible alert if music is playing or there’s a lively conversation. With the Apple Watch, you won’t miss a turn, and you can quickly glance at navigation information without taking your eyes off the road.

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I also like to use the Apple Watch while walking around cities. Even though I’ve lived in the Bay Area for decades, I still occasionally get lost in San Francisco. Lots of people do, even people who live in the city. Apple Watch helps me walk around the city, getting directions discretely so I don’t look like a tourist.

For me, this is all Apple Watch has to offer. I bought it mainly because it was on sale and, since I write about Apple products, it seemed like a worthwhile purchase.

Unlike major tech publications, we don’t get free products from any tech company. This is also why we’re honest about products. A corporate piece about the Apple Watch wouldn’t be open about its flaws or lack of bona fide utility. They need free Apple products and access to spokespeople for interviews. It’s a carrot-and-stick approach to handling the media.

The truth is, the Apple Watch isn’t that useful. It’s a fashion accessory and status symbol. You see them worn less today than a few years ago. These days, they’re inexpensive. If you like the experience of wearing a watch that can save you the burden of brandishing your iPhone, the Apple Watch may be for you.

My biggest regret is not buying the cellular model. I figured the data plan would be expensive, but my carrier offers it for $5 a month.

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A cellular Apple Watch is much more independent than its non-cellular counterpart. I don’t take my iPhone 14 Pro Max on runs because it’s too bulky. So if I injure myself, I’m forced to hobble back home. With a cellular iPhone, I can make calls and even get a ride without my iPhone.

I strongly recommend getting a cellular-capable Apple Watch. If money is a concern, buy the lower-cost SE model with the cellular option. It’s cheaper than the standard, non-cellular Series 8 model.

Cellular capabilities are much more critical than health sensors, which lack clinical quality. The less expensive Apple Watch SE models don’t have the electrocardiogram or blood oxygen sensors, but these aren’t medical-grade features.

You can make calls from a non-cellular Apple Watch; however, you must be near your iPhone. It relies on a Bluetooth connection and serves as a speaker and microphone for your iPhone, which handles the call.

Beyond running and navigation, the Apple Watch offers a subset of apps on your iPhone. Mail, Messages, Notifications, Siri, Music, Apple Pay, and many other iOS apps have a watchOS counterpart. All of these are watered-down versions of their corresponding iOS apps.

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Apple Watch has some exclusive apps not found on iOS. For example, Blood Oxygen, Mindfulness, and Heart are exclusive to Apple Watch. The electrocardiogram is not up to clinical standards, so take it with a grain of low sodium salt substitute. I also found the blood oxygen test a bit inaccurate.

I worked at a company that made mobile electronic prescribing products, so I know it takes extra effort to make a medical-grade product. It’s too bad Apple hasn’t achieved this goal.

Despite some misgivings about the Apple Watch’s health applications, there are some solid reasons that elderly or indigent people should own one. Fall Detection will automatically call for help if your Apple Watch detects a tumble. Also, you can quickly call for assistance in an emergency with your Apple Watch.

I purchased an Apple Watch for my elderly mom for these reasons. She enjoys it much more than I do. She wears it all the time and bought a new strap. I also purchased a new strap months ago and have yet to try it on. I just don’t use it much at all. I wear my Apple Watch maybe once or twice a month.

Parents may also find security in equipping their children with Apple Watches. The Apple Watch is much simpler than the iPhone. Moreover, parents can set it up to track their children. With the Apple Watch, you’ll always know where your kids are, and you can message or call them anytime.

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Why Browse the Web With an Apple Watch?

You may wonder why one would want to browse the web on an Apple Watch. Your iPhone and computer offer superior web browsers. The Apple Watch browser is severely limited, but it can be helpful.

There are over 20,000 watchOS apps; however, this pales in comparison to the iPhone. You might not find a corresponding watchOS app for your favorite iOS app, but the developer may offer a companion web app.

One good use case is flight tracking. Although there are watchOS apps for this, they may not offer information for every airline. In this rare case, you could forward the airline’s flight tracking web address (URL) to your Apple Watch. Instead of constantly reaching for your iPhone, you can have this information at a glance.

Many websites — fish trackers, mapping apps, astronomy apps, corporate intranets, etc. — do not offer corresponding watchOS apps. You can bridge this gap by opening these websites on your Apple Watch.

Keep in mind that not every website will work out well. The Apple Watch doesn’t offer a proper web browser for good reason. An Apple Watch is too small to browse the web. There are many problems with rich web applications that use lots of javascript. These often dither down to unusable messes on the Apple Watch. Furthermore, entering large URLs is cumbersome.

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Although the Apple Watch is unsuitable for web browsing, it may be helpful in some situations. We hope the tips in this article will open new possibilities for your Apple Watch.


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