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What is Apple Watch Family Setup?

The latest Apple Watch software update brought a plethora of new features to the smartwatch, from sleep tracking to customisable watch faces to an app that even helps you wash your hands. The update also introduced a handy new feature for parents: Apple Watch Family Setup.

Family Setup allows your child to take advantage of the features that come with pairing their Apple Watch to an iPhone without actually owning an iPhone.

Read on to find out what Family Setup is and how to set it up.

Related: How to get watchOS 7 on your Apple Watch

What is Apple Watch Family Setup?

Family Setup is a watchOS 7 feature that lets anyone use an Apple Watch without owning an iPhone – as long as someone else in their family does have one.

Family Setup is primarily marketed to parents buying the Apple Watch for their kids, but anyone with an Apple Watch and an iPhone in their family can take advantage of this feature to access some of the perks of pairing the two devices. These include the ability to make phone calls, send messages and share your location with your family.

Because it’s designed for kids, Family Setup also allows the iPhone owner to manage some of the watch’s capabilities, such as ‘Ask to Buy’ which requests approval from the iPhone owner for App Store purchases. However, many of these settings also require permission from the watch owner during setup.

Other parental features available through Family Setup include Location Services for the Find People app, Siri, Apple Cash Family, Messages in iCloud, Health Data, Emergency SOS, Emergency Contacts, Medical ID, Activity, Workout Route Tracking and Photos.

You can even sync up your Screen time settings, or turn on Schooltime to block apps and notifications during school hours.

Read our review of the Apple Watch 6

How to pair your Apple Watch using Family Setup

To use Family Setup you’ll need an Apple Watch Series 4 or later with cellular or an Apple Watch SE with cellular. Your watch will also need to be running watchOS 7 or later. You’ll also need an iPhone 6s or later running iOS 14, along with working Apple IDs for both yourself and your family member in a Family Sharing setup. You can learn how to set up Family Sharing on Apple’s support page.

From there, all you need to do is follow the below steps to pair your Apple Watch using Family Setup:

  • Switch on the Apple Watch
  • Hold the Apple Watch near your iPhone
  • When you see ‘Use your iPhone to set up this Apple Watch’, tap ‘Continue’
  • Tap ‘Set Up for a Family Member’
  • Tap ‘Continue’
  • Hold your iPhone over the watch until it pairs
  • Tap ‘Set Up Apple Watch’
  • Choose a passcode and select the family member that will be using the Apple Watch

From here, you can customise the Apple Watch by adding it to your cellular plan and choosing which features and parental controls to allow on the smartwatch.

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