It’s not very often that I find myself in a situation where I want to browse the internet on a tiny-screen of my Series 5 Apple Watch. However, it’s neat as a party-trick and for some reason it really intrigues people. Probably because you don’t normally expect to see an internet browser running on a device that you wear on your wrist.
Right about now, I’m sure you’re thinking “but there’s no web-browser for the Apple Watch”. Well, you’re sort of right. For one, there actually is a third-party web browser for watchOS, but it’s paid and it’s not very good. However, you actually don’t need to buy an app to browse the internet on your Apple Watch. Here is how you can browse the internet in watchOS 6.
How to Access Internet on Apple Watch
Like I said earlier, using the internet on an Apple Watch is less of a useful feature, and more of an interesting party trick.
- Send yourself an iMessage with a link to a website. I recommend ‘Google.com’. Open the iMessage on your Apple Watch.
- Tap on the link, and it will open in a WebKit browser on your Apple Watch.
The beauty here, is that since this is Google, you can search for anything, and get to any website you want even though you don’t have a URL bar in the browser on your wrist. For example, if I search for ‘8bittoast’, I can then open this website on my Apple Watch; and look, it looks just as stunning on a tiny screen as it does on a 4K monitor, so that’s great.
So, How Does This Work?
As you may have noticed, there’s no such thing as Safari in watchOS 6. So how does this web browser trick work? Well, to understand that, you need to know about WebKit. In simple terms, WebKit is a web rendering engine used by Apple in Safari, and is mandatorily used by any browsers running on iOS as well, which means Chrome on your iPhone is technically using the WebKit rendering engine to display websites.
Anyway, in order to make the Apple Watch a more powerful piece of hardware, Apple brought WebKit support to its smartwatch starting with watchOS 5. This meant the Apple Watch can handle URLs by rendering them straight on the device instead of asking the user to open their iPhone to view links.
Now, WebKit doesn’t care if you’re rendering a PDF hosted on a server, or if you’re trying to access Google. So, as long as you can get a tappable link on your Apple Watch, you can open it in a web browser. Neat, isn’t it?
It’s also sometimes useful when you urgently need to visit a website but don’t want to pull out your iPhone.