How to use your Apple Watch to get directions

Getting directions and navigating around a new area can be daunting, but the Apple Watch makes it easier and safer. Learn how to get directions on your Apple Watch.

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Image: Apple, Inc.

If you've ever been exploring a new city and tried to get directions on your phone, you've undoubtedly struggled with keeping your eyes on where you're going while also trying to stare at your phone to find landmarks and check on your progress with the navigation route. Your Apple Watch can help you get directions to your destination, whether you're walking, driving, or biking.

SEE: Business pro's guide to hassle-free travel (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

How Apple Watch users can find a location to navigate to

On the Apple Watch, there are two main ways that you can look up an address and use navigation: The easiest way is to ask Siri, and the other option is to use the Maps app's voice search feature.

How to use Siri on your Apple Watch to get directions

To use Siri to navigate to a location on your Apple Watch, perform these steps.

  1. Activate Siri on the Apple Watch by pressing and holding the Digital Crown on the side.
  2. Tell Siri "Navigate to x" where "x" is the address you wish to navigate to (Figure A).

Figure A

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Siri will automatically set the Maps app to navigate to the address you specify in the request.

Cory Bohon / TechRepublic

How to use the Maps app on your Apple Watch to get directions

If you wish to have an alternate route or change from walking to driving or biking directions, you should use the Maps app.

  1. Press the Digital Crown on your watch to go to the home screen. 
  2. Open the Maps app.
  3. Select Search | Dictation (optionally select from the Nearby, Contacts, or use Scribble to type out the address or place name).
  4. Select the correct place/address in the search results listing. 
  5. Select the direction type (Figure B).

Figure B

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When selecting the directions, the available direction types can be selected (driving, transit, walking, etc.).

Cory Bohon / TechRepublic

How to navigate with the Apple Watch

Once you are in the navigation interface by selecting a navigation type in the previous section, your Apple Watch will provide you with feedback when driving or walking in order to help get you to your destination. By raising your wrist, you will see the next action for navigating to the destination (Figure C). 

Figure C

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The next navigation step is available by raising your wrist.

Cory Bohon / TechRepublic

When you're getting close to needing to perform the next step (e.g., left turn, right turn, keep going straight, etc.), the Apple Watch will give you haptic feedback. When needing to turn, the Apple Watch will give off an audible tone if unmuted and a haptic vibration: 

  • When needing to turn left, the Apple Watch will give off a high tone followed by a low tone (tick tock, tick tock).
  • When needing to turn right, the Apple Watch will give off a low tone followed by a high tone (tock tick, tock tick).

When you're on the last leg of the navigation trip, you'll need a slight vibration and again when you arrive.

All of this feedback makes it super easy to keep your eyes on the road and/or street when walking or driving instead of being distracted by your directions. 

How to enable turn alerts on your Apple Watch

You can choose which alerts you receive on your Apple Watch when navigating to locations. To change these alert settings, follow these steps.

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on the My Watch tab | Maps.
  3. Enable or disable turn alerts for Driving, Driving with CarPlay, and Walking (Figure D).

Figure D

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You can customize the turn alerts for your Apple Watch in the Watch app settings.

Cory Bohon / TechRepublic

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