51 iOS 9 Apps That Support Universal Links (updated Dec 19th)

As I describe here, seamlessness is a killer feature of iOS 9, and Universal Links are one of the best experiences of seamlessness: click a simple URL link, in Mail, Messages, Safari, etc.—and BOOM you're looking at the content or feature right inside the native app.

A long list of apps have already launched that take advantage of two of iOS 9's Search APIs (NSUserActivity and CoreSpotlight). These APIs which expose the apps' content, features, and navigation points when the user searches in iOS 9—not only in Spotlight searches but also within Safari. Examples include IMDB, 1Password, and Dropbox. 

A growing number of apps are supporting iOS 9's third search API, known as Web Markup, which makes seamless Universal Links possible. For apps whose content is also available on the web (think Airbnb), Universal Links allow standard http / https web URLs to open directly in the app on iOS 9 with no delay and no jarring intermediate steps (like passing through Safari on the way). 

Implementing Web Markup and Universal Links is taking app makers a little longer than other iOS 9 updates, because there are two moving parts instead of just one: both the app and the website need to be updated. On the website side, it's not a massive change—there's no need for wholesale changes to web content—but it does require sysadmin attention, including SSL signing of the "apple-app-site-association" file.

Anyway, I'm excited to see the list keep expanding as more apps roll out their updates. The list below shows what I've found so far, and I'll keep updating this post as I find more.

In the list below, the example Universal Links should, on an iOS 9 device with the associated app installed, open directly in-app. (I recently discovered that there's apparently an iOS 9 / Universal Links bug that can bite if you had an app installed before upgrading to iOS 9—this proved to be the case with my Dropbox installation, where Universal Links began working after I deleted and reinstalled the Dropbox app.)

Universal-Link-Aware iOS 9 App/Websites as of 19 Dec 2015

  1. Yelp: app, app-site-association file, example Universal Link
  2. Amazon: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  3. Pinterest: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  4. OpenTable: app, app-site-association file, example Universal Link
  5. The Guardian: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  6. Flipboard: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  7. Citymapper: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  8. Resy: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  9. Houzz: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  10. Chairish: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  11. Foursquare: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  12. B&H Photo: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  13. Join.me: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  14. Twitter: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  15. Dropbox: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  16. Quip: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  17. Estately: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  18. Top10: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  19. Airbnb: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  20. Art Authority: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  21. Periscope:  appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  22. Google Maps: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  23. Medium: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  24. Storehouse: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  25. Timeline.com: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  26. Overcast: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  27. Swarm: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  28. Kayak: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  29. ibotta: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  30. Yummly: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  31. Flickr: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  32. Jet.com: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  33. Shazam: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  34. IMDb: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  35. NYTimes.com: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  36. TripAdvisor.com: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  37. LinkedIn: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  38. Spotify: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  39. SoundCloud: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  40. Groupon: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  41. Kickstarter: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  42. Songkick: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  43. Bandsintown.com: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  44. Livingsocial: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  45. StubHub: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  46. SeatGeek: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  47. Khan Academy: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  48. Facet: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  49. Findery: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  50. Vevo: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link
  51. Etsy: appapp-site-association file, example Universal Link

Apps That May Support Universal Links Soon

In my quest to find new apps that support Universal Links, I frequently run into the case where app makers have an apple-app-site-association file on their web presence, but the app isn't working yet with Universal Links. In other cases, the developer has announced via release notes, etc. that they support Universal Links but the app doesn't actually work yet (e.g., Zillow, Ticketmaster).

My Universal Link validation process is as follows:

  1. Using Apple's validation tool, confirm that the app's web presence has an apple-app-site-association file deployed, and check what URL patterns the app should support.
  2. Paste a valid URL into Messages or Notes.
  3. On an iOS device with the app installed, long-press the Universal Link URL and see if the app has correctly registered itself to handle the URL. If so, the popup will show an option to open the link in the app:
  4. Verify that the app correctly opens the Universal Link. I've seen cases where the app immediately forwards the request on to Safari, or fails to open the specified content.

Below is a list of such work-in-process cases, which I'm hoping are apps that should see Universal Link support soon. Unless otherwise noted, the app maker already has an apple-app-site-association file deployed on their web presence but the app isn't working yet.

  • Netflix
  • Zillow: Announced but not functional.
  • Ticketmaster: Announced but not functional.
  • Instagram
  • Tumblr
  • Shazam
  • Vine
  • Viator
  • BuzzFeed
  • Glassdoor.com: URLs from the website do "open" directly in the app, but instead of opening the linked content, the app simply opens in its prior state, such as the last search run. 
  • RentTheRunway
  • Vimeo
  • Zappos
  • Hotwire.com
  • AllModern.com
  • ebay: Their app-site-association file is clearly in a testing-only mode at this point.
  • Afar.com: Links go to the app, but app doesn't show the linked content ...
  • ChefsFeed.com
  • Instacart

Built-in Magic Pseudo Universal Link Apps

Some of Apple's own apps, and a few 3rd-party apps, support Universal Linking behavior (open URLs direct in the app) but through iOS-level magic instead of the official Universal Links mechanism. Behavior is slightly different than with real Universal Links: for example, no Open In "[app name]" choice gets displayed in a long-press popover. Among the apps in this category:

Music Discovery in Apple Music: My Top 3 Techniques

I can understand Jim Dalrymple's pain around Apple Music.  I know music enthusiasts like Jim with massive, carefully-curated libraries that they care deeply about. I'm a different animal, though, and the flaws that drive Jim bonkers don't bother me so much.

My library is small, 2,685 tracks; but more importantly, my musical tastes are in constant flux, mutating virus-like from one month to the next. I don't care all that much about my historical music library, because I really don't like a lot of the music in it any more! Even my 5-star playlist is too stale to tolerate. So however heinous Apple Music's library curation capabilities are, they don't bother me much.

For me, discovery is the top priority; and there, Apple Music is really delivering. Below are the three discovery techniques I use most often. What makes discovery successful, though, is the quality of human curation that Apple Music is giving me easy access to.

1. "Radio" Tab, Zane Lowe Playlists

Beats 1 is Apple Music's worldwide radio station and Zane Lowe its most influential DJ and music-picker. Beats 1 in general, and Lowe in particular, have a philosophy of just playing great music, independent of genre classifications and music label influence. 

Every week or so, I'll navigate to Apple Music / Radio / Beats 1 / Beats 1 Anchors / Zane Lowe / Playlists, and work my way through several recent playlists. I do my best to keep a completely open mind, listening to every song for at least a minute even if it's from a genre that is foreign to me (e.g., hip-hop). 

2. "New" Tab

The New tab is where Apple Music surfaces all things new, exciting, and hot. New releases, artists, playlists, top songs and albums, special features like "Best of 2015" playlists. New by default shows all genres, but also gives you to select a specific genre.

Here my process is to browse through the various lists, both at the all-genres level and within my (current!) home genre of Alternative, again listening for at least a minute as open-mindedly as possible. 

3. "For You" Tab

For You includes human-curated playlists like "Intro to The Chemical Brothers" and "Drake: No. 1 Rap Songs," along with album recommendations, all based on my behavior and explicit likes and dislikes. The curated playlists are great: I've even spot-checked them by listening to "Intro to ..." playlists for artists I know well and they're spot-on. Here I find myself immersed in specific artists, a different experience from the quick sampling I do under Radio and New.

How Good Is Discovery in Apple Music?

 All new except Adele ...

All new except Adele ...

I started using Apple Music on June 30th, and as of December 14th, I've added 180 new songs from 100 new artists.

For me, there's a special psychology around a streaming music service. Since all music is available to me, it's not too critical that I get all the songs I like into My Music. Instead, I add (a) new artists that I like so I can come back and find more of their music later, and (b) songs that I really love, so that For You can better represent what I like. So for assessing the success of music discovery in Apple Music, the new artist count is by far the most important measure.

How good is 100 artists / 180 songs in a little over five months? While I don't have great data on my pre- Apple Music era, I'm guessing that I discovered no more than one new artist every couple of weeks. With Apple Music, I'm seeing discovery rates 8X higher. And I'm definitely having more fun listening that I have for a long time. 

Why iPad Pro Will Accelerate Apple's Charge into the Enterprise

Apple is in the midst of a multi-year, multi-pronged charge into the enterprise. With iPad Pro arriving imminently, Apple will gain its most powerful enterprise offering yet. More than any iOS device to date, the iPad Pro is a highly-capable professional productivity tool. From where I sit, I'm betting that a significant and growing percentage of Pro sales will be into the enterprise, and that these incremental sales will be key in rekindling growth in the iPad product line.

Read More

10 Reasons I'm Excited About the New Apple TV

Apple introduced the new Apple TV at their Hey Siri event on September 9th, and at the end of the Apple TV segment, Eddie Cue announced late October availability.  So far we haven't heard any further details, but I'm incredibly excited about this thing, and since it is October now, I thought I'd write up a Top 10 about what's stoking my excitement.

(Update: You can now order the new Apple TV with delivery dates starting October 30th.)

10. 3D Images / Useful Parallax

3D images, technically multi-layer images that enable the parallax effect, are an integral part of the reimagined Apple TV experience. iOS has supported the parallax effect for a while (on the lock screen, for example) but there it was a bit of a gimmick. On Apple TV, 3D images are a signaling mechanism to highlight what you've selected with the touch surface. Check out Jen Folse's demo:

 

9. What Did She Say?

Siri voice commands on the new Apple TV are capable of so many useful things, but this is probably my favorite: if you miss what a character just said in your favorite TV show or movie, you can ask Siri, "What did she just say?" and Apple TV will back up 15 seconds, and then temporarily enable closed captions—so you see in text right on the screen what you missed! Amazing, check it out:


8. Apple Music

On my iOS devices and my Mac, I get a full-strength Apple Music experience. But my two second-generation Apple TVs are cut off from all that goodness, so I've very excited that the new Apple TV has a full-strength Apple Music experience. In my opinion, it's even better than iOS. Check it out:

 

7. Cinematic Screen Savers

Apple actually went out and filmed gorgeous, exclusive-to-Apple-TV slow-motion HD video to use as the new Apple TV's screen savers. They even adapt to your time of day. This is truly breathtaking cinematography:

(Update: at least temporarily, you can view all of the Cinematic Screen Savers here.)

6. New "Home" Button on Remote

The new Siri Remote adds a Home button, which takes you all they way back to the Apple TV home screen, no matter where you start. The new remote still has a Menu button, which does what it always has, taking you back a level. There's a subtle and important difference in the Menu button behavior, though: apps retain their level state, so if for example you return to the Movies app after having jumped to Home, you'll be exactly where you were—browsing documentaries, say—when you return. Also, if you double-press home, you get a multitasking view where you can easily switch between apps. Very nice!

5. Remote Over Bluetooth

The old Apple TV remote used traditional line-of-site infrared technology, meaning that the remote only worked when you could actually see the little black Apple TV box. With the new Apple TV, feel free to hide that black box deep in your electronics cabinet, because the Siri Remote talks over Bluetooth.

 

4. Universal Search

On today's Apple TV, I often have to slog my way from one content app to another (Movies, HBO Go, Netflix, etc.) to find a particular title. With the new Apple TV's Universal Search, I can search for content across all the major sources—iTunes, Netflix, HBU, Hulu, and Showtime—with a single search. The search results show me exactly which sources have the title I'm after. Awesome! 

 

3. Apps and App Store

The new Apple TV has a fast A8 chip and its own iOS-like high-powered operating system, tvOS—all to support full-bore apps and a full-scale App Store. Apple TV apps are a game-changer, and not just for games. Chad Evans' demo of the MLB At Bat app shows what's possible—just incredible:

 

2. Siri Remote Voice Control

I'd can only imagine that Apple invested tens of thousands of effort-hours getting Siri to work so seamlessly through the Siri Remote, and to provide such an incredibly useful voice repertoire. Jen Folse shows it well:

 

1. Siri Remote Touch Control

In a recent episode of Horace Dediu's Critical Path podcast, he made a great point: the Siri Remote is the first-ever "thumb-touch" interface. Before the new Apple TV, touch interfaces have been all about using our pointing fingers to navigate around. Again, I can only wonder at the tens of thousands of hours that it had to take to get this so right, so perfect. 

iOS 9's Killer Feature? Seamlessness.

I attended WWDC in June and have spent many hours since watching and re-watching WWDC session videos. I've had iOS 9 betas running since June and last week I cut over to iOS 9 and watchOS 2 on all my primary devices. Along this journey, I think I've identified iOS 9's killer feature, the one thing that changes everything and will have impact for years to come—seamlessness.

Haven't heard of it? Well, that's because seamlessness isn't actually a specific iOS 9 feature. Rather, it's the result of a multitude of iOS 9 and Apple infrastructure capabilities that mesh together to provide a groundbreaking new experience.

Apple showed us an interesting chart at WWDC: iOS users spend 86% of their time in apps, versus only 14% on the web. Seamlessness is all about unlocking that 86%: the content and features that live within apps, along with how we interact with them. Seamlessness is also about shattering the barriers, web-to-app and app-to-app, that have limited awareness and effectiveness up to now.

 Craig Federighi presenting iOS 9 search at WWDC15

Craig Federighi presenting iOS 9 search at WWDC15

Apple has taken smaller steps towards seamlessness in the past, including custom URL schemes and most recently iOS 8's Handoff feature. But iOS 9 takes us far, far beyond, meshing a wide range of local and cloud features to deliver a new, cohesive app-plus-web experience.

 Craig Federighi shows off deep linking and Return to Search button

Craig Federighi shows off deep linking and Return to Search button

From a user's perspective, the wonder of seamlessness surfaces mainly in search and navigation. In both Safari and Spotlight search, my search results now represent the content and features of my apps. Search results are richly formatted and directly actionable: one touch deep-links me directly to the specific app content (say, an Airbnb listing or Yummly recipe) or feature (such as the Steps feature in Apple's Health app) that search found for me. I'm also given a return link, "Back to Search," that brings me directly back to search results. So as a user, I get a simple, web-like search experience, but for content and features living inside my apps that until now have been locked away inside the walls of the app.

Although this search experience is simple for the user, there's an incredible array of technology and infrastructure hiding beneath the surface to make this all happen seamlessly. Apple provides three separate search APIs for developers in iOS 9: one to index app content, another to follow the flow of user activity within the app, and a third to map web content to its in-app equivalent. All three APIs are essential to get the kind of seamlessness that we're seeing in iOS 9. Likewise, to deliver highly relevant search results and enable discovery of new apps and app features, Apple maintains two separate search indexes: a private on-device index and a public cloud index. If I'm searching for a good recipe for fish, the search results I see from Yummly are influenced not only by my own content and interactions, but also based on what other Yummy users have done and found. I might even get a recommendation for the New York Times recipe app if that app has a popular salmon recipe. Apple manages all of this while carefully preserving user privacy, using techniques like "zero knowledge proof" when moving private behavioral data into the cloud. 

Deep app linking is fundamental to both search and navigation in iOS 9. Through the new search APIs, app developers expose important content, features, and navigation points inside their apps, and enable the app to open immediately to any of these deep link destinations. (And also get back, thanks to ubiquitous "Back to ..." buttons.) And besides exposing "where can I go within this app," deep link destinations also enable iOS to capture a running stream of "where am I now in this app," similar to a browser's history of pages visited. The new search APIs also enable the developer to richly describe each deep link destination, with detailed descriptions, thumbnail images, keywords and even domain-specific data like prices and ratings. So iOS 9 now has a treasure trove of information to leverage in delivering a rich, seamless search and navigation experience. 

But what about the web? And what about interacting and sharing with others who might not have the same set of apps I do? So often, content and functionality that exists inside an app also exists on the web—consider Twitter, Airbnb, and tons of other cases. Is there a way to extend seamlessness beyond my mobile device and encompass the web and sharing?

It turns out that the answer is yes. iOS 9 introduces a new form of web-compatible deep link URL known as Universal Links. The URLs themselves are nothing new, and actually that's the point: these are normal http or https URLs that point to normal web pages. The Universal Link magic happens when the app developer / website owner informs Apple, through a combination of app entitlements and web server content, that this website's URLs map to deep link destinations within their app. Anywhere that iOS 9 encounters a Universal Link—be in Safari or Mail or Messages or another app—it can open that link directly in the app. If the app isn't installed, then iOS 9 gracefully falls back to opening the URL in Safari. Links to tweets, recipes, Airbnb listings, LinkedIn profiles—all can now open directly and seamlessly in their native apps. Website owners can even mark up their Universal Link-associated web pages with descriptive metadata such as thumbnail images, ratings, and review counts, which then surface as rich, actionable Safari or Spotlight results. And again, behind this simple user experience is a major infrastructure investment. To make this all work, Apple has actually built its own web crawler, Applebot, to maintain a huge and rapidly-growing cloud repository of every deep app link on the web and its associated metadata. (I'm tracking a growing list apps that support Universal Links here.)

App developers have an added incentive to invest in implementing iOS 9's new search and deep linking features: discoverability. Given a high relevance match, Safari and Spotlight search will return app search results even for apps that aren't yet installed. The example used at WWDC was a search for "sprained ankle," which returned app results to relevant content within several medical reference apps, based on other users having found that content useful. Developers will want to get their iOS 9 updates rolled out ASAP, since every user interaction helps populate Apple's cloud index and increase app discoverability. The result can be exposure to millions of new potential customers. 

One final note: although iOS 9 arrives today, seamlessness in its full glory will take time. Developers need to update their apps and websites, and then it will take time for Apple's cloud index to populate and reach critical mass. I'm guessing two to three months before seamlessness is really rocking. 

See also: a running list of apps that support Universal Links.

 

Apple Watch: Silent Awareness

The Ring/Silent switch on my iPhone is perpetually set to Silent. Mine might be a minority opinion, but I detest the noise of an unmuted phone—the blaring ringtones, the bleeps, bloops and chirps announcing texts, emails and tweets. I opt for silence—or at least as much silence as can be had when the motor-driven vibration unit inside my phone is noisy enough to summon a crowd of Living Dead zombies.

Before Apple Watch arrived, my semi-silent iPhone setup had the Ring/Silent switch set to Silent, vibration on for incoming calls and alerts, and manually-enabled Do Not Disturb for times when loud vibration was unacceptable. Although it delivered a limited degree of quiet, this setup had a serious drawback: tons of missed calls and notifications. I regularly missed my phone's alerts altogether, and even more often, sensed an alert but was unwilling or unable to do more than twitch irritably as I was vibra-poked. If success entails noticing an incoming alert and then taking informed, appropriate action, I'd estimate my pre-Watch success rate at about 20%.

What's behind this abysmal success rate? Location, location, location. Where's my phone? Jammed in a vibration-damping pocket, locked, screen hidden, inaccessible without an awkward, multi-step effort. Where are my eyes, my senses? Otherwise engaged. Where's my mind? Elsewhere.

It's no wonder that I so often fail to register my phone's vibratory cries for attention. Even when a vibration does break through and tickle my consciousness, my reptillian brain is the first responder. The lizard-brain delivers lightweight situational advice, and does it quickly. Lizard-brain's good advice, though, often leads directly to the failure scenario.

 Not a good place to drop your phone.

Not a good place to drop your phone.

Let's say I'm crossing the Franklin Street Bridge over the Chicago River and get a call. Here's how lizard-brain is likely to see things:

WALKING. HIGH, WATER DOWN THERE. WINDY. BRIDGE SHAKING.
HMMM IS THAT A BUZZ?? YES ... POCKET BUZZ. MAYBE PHONE CALL.
REACH FOR POCKET ...
NO!! DANGER!! DO NOT ATTEMPT TO UNPOCKET PHONE!! NO!! 

Failure: even though I felt the alert, I make an uninformed decision to not take a call. (It's successful from lizard-brain's perspective, however: neither my body nor my phone ended up in the river.)

Or let's say I'm sitting on the couch next to my napping daughter and a call comes in:. Here's the lizard mindstream:

SHE'S SLEEPING. GOOD. DON'T WAKE.
BUZZ!! BUZZ LOUD ANGRY WASP. LOUD. OH NO SHE'S STIRRING!!
EMERGENCY!! MUTE THAT BUZZ!! EMERGENCY!!
GROPE FOR PHONE IN POCKET FIND THAT LOCK BUTTON 
GROPE PUSH ALL BUTTONS STOP THE BUZZING

Failure: another uninformed decision to not take a call, spastic phone groping, and a significant noise intrusion.

The in-pocket phone is invisible and, blind groping aside, unactionable. To see and act, I must unpocket and unlock, a stop-everything, step-aside, devote-all-attention effort. To unpocket, I must swap out the lightweight lizard-brain daemon and load in heavyweight Higher Consciousness. In so many situations, as in the above examples, unpocketing is at best unattractive and at worst infeasible. This was my world, pre-Watch.

Apple Watch delivers the silence I've been seeking (details below), but more critically catapults my aware-responsive rate from 20% to 80%.  Behind this improvement is again location, location, location. Where's my Watch? On my wrist, unsheathed, unlocked, a subsecond gesture away from screenlit, direct-connected to my nervous system through that most basic and powerful sensory input, tactile touch. Where are my eyes, my senses, my mind? That's no longer a concern, because Apple Watch cooperates with the reptilian mind, asking only a tiny slice of mental processing power and speaking the direct language of touch through its Taptic Engine. 

 New call and alert settings with Apple Watch in the mix.

New call and alert settings with Apple Watch in the mix.

In my Watch + iPhone alerting setup, my iPhone is set to Silent/No Vibrate, and thus completely cedes all alerting to Apple Watch. My Watch is configured to be sound-effect-free, using only Taptic and visible alerting. In contrast to the phone's snarling vibratory alerts, Taptic alerts are inaudible, and in practice I've found them to be so good at getting my attention that added sound effects are unnecessary. Taptic's silent operation also eliminates my need for manually-set Do Not Disturb: Taptic is safely discrete in all situations. 

Let's rejoin lizard-brain and reexamine the two scenarios. Crossing the Franklin Street Bridge over the Chicago River:

WALKING. HIGH, WATER DOWN THERE. WINDY. BRIDGE SHAKING.
TAP!! WRIST TAP! WATCH.
OK, QUICK GLANCE SAFE, RAISE, GLANCE.
AHA CALL FROM JOHN YES I SHOULD TAKE IT
OK, SAFE TO WATCH-ANSWER. RIGHT HAND ACROSS TAP ANSWER.
SLOW DOWN, INVOKE FULL ATTENTION.
LIZARD TO BACKGROUND.
I step to one side. 
I carefully unpocket my phone. 
I touch the green bar to pick up call on phone.
I continue my call with John.

Success: I'm aware, responsive, safe.

 
 Incoming call on Apple Watch: send to voicemail or answer.

Incoming call on Apple Watch: send to voicemail or answer.

 

Sleeping daughter:

SHE'S SLEEPING. GOOD. DON'T WAKE.
TAP!! WRIST TAP! WATCH.
RAISE, GLANCE. STEVE!
STEVE CAN WAIT.
RIGHT HAND ACROSS TAP IGNORE.
STILL SLEEPING. GOOD. DON'T WAKE.

Success: I'm aware, informed, appropriate.

Watch on wrist, my days are a continuous stream of scenarios like these. Case in point: as I've been revising this paragraph, I've quickly and discetely dealt with two incoming calls (one step-away-and-call-back, one send-to-voicemail), several texts, and one new voicemail notification. All successfully.

My wife doesn't yet realize how badly she wants an Apple Watch, but I'm pretty sure that she'd benefit even more than I have. Beth is also a fan of quiet and discrete, so like me, she keeps her phone switched to Silent. But in her case, that setting is largely irrelevant, because she rarely carries her phone—or even a purse with her phone. As a result, Beth's reachability rate is maybe 5%—when our older kids need to reach her, they often call or text me instead. 

Recently it dawned on me that Apple Watch had a Wi-Fi radio in addition to Bluetooth, and that Apple had to be doing something useful with that extra radio, or else it wouldn't be in there. I dug into the question online, did some experiments of my own, and made a very interesting discovery. Regardless of physical proximity, if Apple Watch and iPhone are on the same Wi-Fi network, they stay connected. And being connected, Watch can do all its usual connected tricks, including all of the aware-and-responsive scenarios we've examined in this post.

 
 Apple Watch connected to iPhone. Over Wi-Fi, that can span an entire house.

Apple Watch connected to iPhone. Over Wi-Fi, that can span an entire house.

 

I realized that I'd been thinking of the Watch as fully functional only within fairly close proximity to my phone. But Wi-Fi range is basically our entire house! Beth could leave her iPhone charging upstairs, and with an Apple Watch on her wrist, remain fully connected, aware, and responsive throughout the house. Another location challenge, gracefully handled by Apple Watch.

Way back in May 2013, Tim Cook said in a Wall Street Journal AllThingsD interview, "I think the wrist is interesting. The wrist is natural." Yep. Location, location, location.


Just a note of appreciation for a number of deeply-reasoned Apple Watch articles recently, which provided inspiration for mine.