2022 Apple Watches no longer use iPhone GPS when nearby

Previously, the various Apple Watches used the GPS of the iPhone when it was within reach in order to preserve their autonomy. This had the downside of draining the iPhone battery during a workout while requiring GPS accuracy if the contraption ever lurked in the bottom of your bag. Apple solves the problem with its 2022 vintage of watches: the latest tocantes no longer use the iPhone’s GPS when it is nearby.

The radiolucent windows around the edge of the Apple Watch Ultra screen benefit the GPS antennas in particular. Picture Apple.

This change was not difficult to observe for athletes who had recently purchased a new watch, but had never been clarified by Apple. It is now chosen done: a few lines specify it at the end of an article from Apple support.

Apple Watch Ultra, Series 8, and SE (2nd generation) use Apple Watch’s built-in GPS, even when your iPhone is nearby. To preserve battery life, older Apple Watch models use your iPhone’s GPS when available.

The novelty should delight athletes going out to run with their old iPhone, which will have access to more precise data thanks to the recent chip in their watch. However, this new management of the GPS could still be improved: we would appreciate for example an option allowing to choose which machine takes care of the GPS part during a training. This could be useful for people who prefer to save the battery of their watch (which may be in bad shape in a few years) rather than that of their phone which already includes an accurate GPS.


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