How to Use Your Apple Watch’s Hidden Web Browser (and Why You Shouldn’t)

A man with the Apple Watch on his wrist
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The Apple Watch may not have Safari in its list of apps, but the browser is actually there, just waiting to render web pages. While browsing your favorite websites from your wrist might seem like the convenience of your wrist, there are still a few hurdles.

Three ways to access Apple Watch Browser

To access the Apple Watch browser, you need to tap a link. There are three surefire ways to get a link with default apps in watchOS. There may be more if you use third-party apps that you can install with the Watch app on your iPhone or directly on the Watch.

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1. Use Siri

The easiest way to launch the browser is to ask Siri to do it. To do this, hold down the Digital Crown button to trigger Siri, then say “Search for howtogeek.com” or the website you want to launch.

You may also be able to use “Hey, Siri” or simply raise your wrist to speak if you’ve enabled those options in your Apple Watch settings.

Ask Siri to search the web on Apple Watch

From here, Siri will perform a web search 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 conduct more in-depth browsing sessions, but often searching directly for what you need is the easiest way to get where you want to go.

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Open a link from Siri search

2. Use messages

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 in a message conversation. If someone sends you a link, you can tap it to launch the browser and take a look.

Tappable link in Messages for Apple Watch

To access a website of your choice using this method, you must send yourself the link. This isn’t so bad if you have an Apple Watch Series 7 or later with a full wrist keyboard. Third-party messaging apps may also support this feature.

3. Use email

Finally, you can also tap links in email messages. Just like the Messages method, this requires the presence of a link in an incoming email.

You can type (or dictate) a link and email it. Once received, you can then tap the link to open the webpage.

Tappable link in an email message on Apple Watch

Why you should avoid surfing from your wrist

We found starting the browser via the Apple Watch imprecise and a bit awkward. And there are a few reasons for that.

The browser is impractical

First, we had rendering issues on our Apple Watch Series 4. As you can see in the screenshot below on How-To Geek’s homepage, the images weren’t appearing and alignment of some items is disabled.

How-To Geek home page on an Apple Watch

While performing web searches with Siri is the best method, it still requires patience and some thoughtful search cues. For example, if you tell Siri, “Search for wikipedia.com,” an App Store link will open instead of Wikipedia.

Because Siri includes information from Wikipedia, “Search iPhone Wikipedia” doesn’t give you a link, but rather a summary of the topic.

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You have to remember to say “search the web” for these queries, and even then you have to hope that Bing (which uses Siri) will return the right results.

ask Siri for it "Search iphone wikipedia"

The other methods are even less useful because you have to use exact 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 bit more convenient by sending messages to yourself, but it’s still not the most convenient way to surf the web. Dictating a web address is fine, but if you’re using your voice, it’s better to use Siri.

Switch between Reader and Web View on Apple Watch

To make more precise queries, a search engine must be used as a starting point, such as B. Google, DuckDuckGo or Bing.

Sometimes pages open in Reader View by default, resulting in a more useful reading experience at the expense of website functionality. In this case, tap the address bar to switch to “Web View” instead.

Using a browser on your wrist is inconvenient

Using a browser on your wrist is not the most convenient option. No watch is designed to be used over a long period of time. You may experience physical discomfort if you hold your wrist in an extended position. While short browser sessions are feasible, longer sessions may not be.

There are third-party watchOS browser apps

If you’re serious about surfing the web with your Apple Watch, a third-party browser might be worth it to overcome some of the hurdles discussed above.

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Of the free Apple Watch browsers we tried, Parrity is the only option we would 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 with the above methods.

Parrity web browser for Apple Watch

The app works as expected, allowing you to search and enter web addresses as you would in Safari.

The user interface even makes some adjustments, e.g. B. Providing shortcuts for common web address prefixes and suffixes such as “www”. and “.com” to make things a little easier.

Parrity web browser for Apple Watch

It’s still a bit of a hassle to use on a pre-Series 7 Apple Watch model due to the lack of a physical keyboard.

The Scribble input method doesn’t work well for precise web addresses, and dictating URLs out loud isn’t for everyone.

Parrity web browser for Apple Watch

There are other paid Apple Watch browsers to choose from, including µBrowser and Squint Browser, but we wouldn’t recommend spending your money on these tools.

Leave browsing to your other devices

Your other devices, like your iPhone or iPad, are much better suited for browsing. Still, there are plenty of reasons to use an Apple Watch, whether you’re interested in outdoor activities like hiking, looking for motivation on your fitness journey, or want potentially life-saving features like heart health notifications or fall detection.

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