Apple Watch watchOS 4.0.1 fixes this odd Series 3 bug

After two generations, Apple has finally given Apple Watch fans the features many of them have been asking for: standalone connectivity. As such, it is, perhaps understandable that it would be less than perfect at its first try. Indeed, some owners of the LTE-enabled Apple Watch 3 experienced a rather amusing but really annoying connectivity issue. Fortunately, Apple was immediately on the case and, in two weeks, now has the fix in the form of the first watchOS 4 update, number 4.0.1.

You know how public Wi-Fi hotspots often redirect to a captive portal the moment you connect to it, either to login, confirm, or serve you ads? Whenever our devices connect to such access points, they usually remember them for convenience, reconnecting to them when in range. And in the case of Apple devices, that AP is sometimes shared among all devices connected to the same Apple ID.

Not a problem when it happens on a smartphone or laptop. But what happens if it's on a device that can't display a browser, such as, say, a smartwatch? That was precisely the case with the Apple Watch 3 LTE models. When within range of such a public hotspot, the smartwatch connects to the Wi-Fi, at which point it tries, and naturally fails, to pop up a browser tab to complete the connection. Since it can't, it remain connected to the hotspot but isn't actually connected to the Internet.

The watchOS 4.0.1 update fixes this exact problem:

"watchOS 4.0.1 fixes issues that in rare cases were causing Apple Watch to join unauthenticated (captive) Wi-Fi networks, such as those found in public places like coffee shops and hotels, which direct the user to a webpage before the network can be accessed."

As the problem only affects some, but not all, Series 3 watches, it seems that the update is only available for them. That said, Apple will most likely also roll out watchOS 4.0.1 to older models just to keep the OS versions in sync.