Apple Watch's newest feature is a failure

Apple's third watch features the ability to connect itself to the internet, but it's not living up to it is specifications.
BECK DIEFENBACH/REUTERS

Apple's third watch features the ability to connect itself to the internet, but it's not living up to it is specifications.

The main selling point of Apple's new version of its watch is that the device can connect independently to cellular networks, making it possible to place calls or run navigation on its own without being tethered to the iPhone.

But Apple on Thursday acknowledged that this centrepiece feature is not working as intended.

Apple addressed the issues after two reviews of the watch from the Wall Street Journal and the Verge cited problems with connectivity.

The Apple Watch Series 3 was launched last week, and its first reviewers have already pointed out a major fault in its ...
STEPHEN LAM/REUTERS

The Apple Watch Series 3 was launched last week, and its first reviewers have already pointed out a major fault in its ability to connect to unauthenticated wi-fi.

The watch is supposed to switch seamlessly between wi-fi and cellular networks.

READ MORE: Apple's next watch may reduce reliance on iPhone

In a statement, Apple said that the watch's attempts to connect to certain wi-fi networks causes some problems.

"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."

"Unauthenticated wi-fi networks without connectivity" refer to a very particular - but not uncommon - type of connection.

Networks in places such as Starbucks or in airports, for example, often automatically connect to devices, particularly if it is one that has connected to the network before.

But they also often ask users to take an extra step, such as accepting terms and conditions, before they actually connect. Those dialogues do nott appear on the Apple Watch, which then gets stuck thinking it has joined a familiar network when it has not.

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It is rare for Apple to ship even its early reviewers a product with a notable problem. 

Another notable time was the September 2012 launch of Apple Maps, which placed some landmarks in odd places and made others appear as if they were melting.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook apologised for the rocky Maps launch – a stark contrast to his predecessor, Steve Jobs, who once told people having trouble with their iPhone's connectivity to hold their phones a different way.

A problem connecting to cellular networks would be a blow to an important Apple product and undercut the main reason for buying the US$399 (NZ$544) version of the watch that connects to LTE and carries its own data plan costs.

Yet Apple's explanation indicates that connecting to cellular networks is not the problem – just the device's confusion about when it should stay off of wi-fi

It is not clear when the fix will be released. The new watch is still set to go on sale Saturday.

 - The Washington Post

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