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“Notify When Left Behind” feature is coming to the Apple Watch

A feature has been uncovered in watchOS 8 Beta for those amongst us that are forgetful. Your Apple Watch has gained the ability to nag you if you leave your iPhone or iPad behind.

If you’ve ever forgotten your smartphone at home, you know how annoying this can be. Even worse is forgetting your phone in a public place such as a restaurant. A new feature coming to the Apple Watch wants to make this a thing of the past.

The watchOS 8 Beta is currently circulating around. Announced in June it comes with useful new features such as respiratory info, new mindfulness tools, some additional workout types, along with a handful of other smaller upgrades.

And while all of these features were talked about at the Apple’s Developer Conference, there is one new one that wasn’t mentioned. It’s a very useful one.


“Notify When Left Behind”

The Apple Watch on your wrist can detect if your iPhone is no longer detected near you. The feature has been around in Beta for Apple AirTags for a few versions, but now it works between iOS devices!

your iphone left behind feature coming to the apple watch 247x300 - "Notify When Left Behind" feature is coming to the Apple Watch
Image source: Reddit

The Apple Watch telling you – “Hey, you forgot your phone!” will be a godsend to some of us. Even if you’ve never left your phone behind, there’s always the chance you will.

The feature can be found in the Find My app. This needs to be run initially for the functionality to kick in.

You can locate the app via the Digital Crown on your Apple Watch. Run it and then simply choose the device, iPhone, iPad, etc. You’ll notice an option “Notify When Left Behind”. This can be switched on or off. You may also need to switch on Location Services in the Settings section on your iPhone in order for everything to work properly.

Presumably adding this type of functionality wasn’t too much of a challenge. After all, the Apple Watch has always been aware if it is not close to your phone – as it needs this info to know when to switch from WiFi to cellular.

As mentioned AirTags functionality is part of the Beta, as well. For example, if you attach an AirTag to your car keys, the watch will ping you with a reminder if you’ve left them behind.

Which means you get the best of both worlds. Both AirTags functionality ported over to the Apple Watch, plus the ability for reminders to work between individual iOS devices.

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This is definitely useful functionality and we hope it makes it to the official release in September. Early reports are that it works well. If you want to try out the feature right now you will need to install watchOS 8 Beta.


It also works the other way around

The Apple Watch “Notify When Left Behind” feature is part of a wider rollout that works on the whole Apple ecosystem. The aim of this is to get devices communicating with each other seamlessly.

This means  you can pick and choose from various combinations consisting of devices that can run iOS15, iPadOS 15 watchOS 8 and MacOS Monterey. Basically, this allows you to keep tabs on all devices connected to your Apple ID.

So for example, you can set it up to notify you on your iPhone if you’ve left your Apple Watch behind. Or if you’ve forgotten your iPad. If you want to track non-Apple devices you will need to attach an AirTag to the item to get these types of alerts.

Setting up the “Notify When Left Behind” feature on the iPhone and iPad is similar to the procedure for the iPhone. Basically you need to:

  1. Open the Find my app on the device,
  2. Then tap on the Devices tab along the bottom
  3. You’ll get a list of all the devices connected to your Apple ID
  4. Choose one of them and scroll down in the menu until you see the “Notify When Left Behind” feature under “Notifications”.
  5. Toggle it ON.

The setup options are richer on iOS 15 and iPad OS 15 then on watchOS 8. On these platforms you can also choose to omit some locations. So for example, you can choose your home address as a place where you don’t want to receive these types of alerts.

Whats more, you can also set a range, something similar to GeoFencing. The options are Small, Medium and Large for the range – choose this and select Done to save the changes. This is essentially how far you need to be away from the item in order to get the Left Behind alert.


How to upgrade to watchOS 8 Beta

Apple has made the pre-release software available to the public. But installing Beta versions comes with risks. The software is work in progress so likely to feature some bugs. Plus, once you’ve installed watchOS 8 Beta it is very difficult to revert back to the previous version.

If you’d still like to upgrade, we’ve written a handy guide on how to install watchOS 8 Beta, even if you’re not a developer. Remember, your iPhone also has to be in Beta to run the new Apple Watch software.

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