We are now very much living in the age of wearables and IoT devices, with the Apple Watch arguably being the industry-leading wearable since its introduction back in 2015.
However, back when it was first launched, there was one major drawback preventing more people from adopting the Apple Watch: it needed an iPhone to pair with before you can unlock its full functionality. Since then, Apple has released the cellular version of the Apple Watch that can work on its own, but now with the recently released iOS 14 and watchOS7, we have another option that’s making this even easier: Family Setup.
In a nutshell, Family Setup allows up to five family members who don’t own their own iPhone to use an Apple Watch, as long as one person has an iPhone with iOS 14.
Here, we will discuss all you need to know about Apple Watch Family Setup and the benefits you can get from it.
So, What Is Apple Watch Family Setup?
Family Setup, as mentioned, is a new feature introduced in the recently released WatchOS7, which essentially allows an Apple Watch to be set up through an iPhone (intended to be a parent’s or a guardian’s), meaning consumers can use the Apple Watch without the need to pair it with said iPhone.
Previously, we have had to always pair the Apple Watch with the iPhone to fully unlock its functionality. Now, for example, we can give the Apple Watch to our elderly parents or children without needing to buy them another iPhone. We also get the benefit of being able to control the Apple Watch from the iPhone remotely.
With Family Setup, Apple Watch users who do not have an iPhone can still use essential features like FaceTime, Medical ID, Health app, Emergency SOS, and various apps on the App Store. The Watch is assigned with its own number, and the iPhone can track the Apple Watch’s location and other control features.
Even in cases when your family member has an Android phone but would like an Apple Watch, Family Setup can be a cost-effective solution.
To summarize, there are two main benefits of Family Setup: cost and control.
How To Use Family Setup on Your Apple Watch
To use Family Setup on your Apple Watch, you’d need:
- At least one iPhone (6S or later) with iOS 14 or later.
- An Apple Watch Series 4 or later with Cellular and an active Apple Watch data plan. The cellular plan isn’t mandatory but would provide the Apple Watch with essential features like messaging, phone calls, location sharing, Find My Apple Watch, and so on.
- Truphone’s Apple Watch cellular plan for all applicable watches.
- All Apple Watches in the Setup must be at least watchOS 7 or later.
- Each Apple Watch and iPhone used must have a unique Apple ID, including your children.
- Each person must sign up for Apple’s Family Sharing plan. At the moment the Family Sharing plan is limited to one family organizer (the iPhone owner) and five other members, so technically we can use five Apple Watches with one iPhone.
Setting up an Apple Watch with Family Setup once you’ve got all of the above is pretty simple, and you can follow these steps:
- Turn on the Apple Watch. If it’s not a brand new Apple Watch, you can erase it so it can be set up as new.
- Open up the Apple Watch app on the family organizer’s iPhone, go to the Apple Watch setup screen, and choose Set Up For Family Member.
- Pair the Apple Watch with the iPhone as usual by scanning the graphic on the Watch’s display with the iPhone’s camera.
- Tap Set Up Apple Watch, agree to the Terms and Conditions, select right/left wrist preference, choose a font size, and then create a passcode.
- Select a family member from your Family Sharing, or you can choose Add New Family Member if the person is not yet a part of your Family Sharing. Simply enter the person’s Apple ID. If you haven’t yet prepared an Apple ID, you will need to go several steps and enable two-factor authentication.
- Toggle Ask to Buy or Location Sharing on or off based on your preference.
- Set up Wi-Fi and cellular data plan (if any), simply follow the steps on screen to activate your cellular data plan if you have prepared one. You can also skip this step and set up Wi-Fi/cellular later.
- Set up Siri, Location Sharing, and more.
- You can set up an Apple Cash Family in this stage, where you can share some amounts from your Apple Pay with your family member. You can control who can send and receive money in this step.
- Continue through the additional setup processes like enabling iCloud, Emergency SOS, and more according to your preferences.
FAQ: Family Setup and Apple Watch
- Can I use Family Setup With a GPS-only Apple Watch?
Unfortunately, the answer is no, you’d need a Cellular+GPS Apple Watch to use Family Setup. It is, however, possible to use Family Setup without using any cellular data plan, as long as the Apple Watch is a cellular model. Keep in mind, however, that not having a data plan would lock essential features like Location Sharing, voice calls, Find My Apple Watch, and so on.
- Can I track my family member’s location with Family Setup?
Yes, but there are some limitations to this. For example, a family member can share their location via the Find My functionality to let you know their location. You can also set up a location notification, which would notify you if a family member has reached a specific predetermined location like their school, so you can check whether your children have arrived at school on time.
You can also set up location notification if you want to check whether a family member is in certain locations you wouldn’t want them to be.
- What can family members do in Family Setup without a paired iPhone?
- Listen to Apple Music
- Download apps from the App Store, subject to the family organizer’s restrictions.
- Make calls
- Send messages
- Use Emergency SOS
- Health App
And many more. If your family organizer allows, in fact, you can technically use almost all features in a cellular Apple Watch.
Apple Watch Family Setup can be a great solution if you are looking to get your family member an Apple Watch but don’t want to also get them an iPhone. You will, however, need the Apple Watch to be the cellular model, and preferably you’d want a family-enabled Apple Watch data to plan to make the most of the Family Setup function.
Setting up Family Setup is fairly easy, and you can follow the steps we’ve shared above to set up your family member’s Apple Watch with just one iPhone in no time.