Apple Watch dictation when device is not connected to iPhone

Is is technically possible that Drafts could receive dictation input on a non-cellular Apple Watch when out of range of its paired iPhone?

I understand it is possible (for audio) in an app such as Just Press Record but I was wondering if something like this is feasible in Drafts. I think it would be a great feature if there was way to do it, or a workaround available.

If the watch is non-cellular and out of range of direct contact to the iPhone, how could any watch app communicate with its counterpart on the iPhone?

If you mean that you want it to be held on the watch until it is back in communication with the iPhone and then sync, then it does do this currently. I’ve just tested it to make sure it is true with latest releases and it worked fine for me on my series 4 watch and iPhone 8+.


watchOS 7 and greater support on-device dictation. Drafts is just using watchOS/Siri dictation, so it supports what the system supports. I think there are some limitation to it, but it should work in most cases, as long as the language you use is supported on-device.

Note that even when on-device dictation is not available, the phone is still not required, just a network - whether that be cellular or wifi.


@sylumer @agiletortoise Thanks both, I will try to explain it better:

If I add input from the ‘scribble’ feature, for example, when I am outside range of my iPhone and Wifi a draft is created which is synced when back in range.

If I understand @sylumer correctly it is possible to retain dictated text when the watch is not connected, however I get a Dictation failed error when I try to input using this method, which I had assumed is a hardware limitation.

I’m using English (Ireland) on my iPhone which is mirrored on the watch.

In the watch settings General > Dictation the following message is show if that is relevant:

Support for on-device dictation in English (United Sates) on your watch is downloading.

(Apple Watch SE and iPhone 6S, both latest OS)

All I’m saying is that if on-device dictation is available on your Watch, Drafts can use it and it will work. Sounds like your Watch is trying to install on-device dictation libraries from that message. If that’s been going on a long time, maybe something went wrong.

If you resolve the issue in watchOS, you should be good to go. I don’t really have any pointers for that - maybe reset the watch? You should be able to dictate offline in other apps as well (Mail, etc.).

(Just tested on my Watch, and offline dictation is available and working, so I do think it’s just an issue with your Watch that needs to be resolved)


Thanks for your help. I started a support ticket with Apple. I’ll share the outcome here later in case any other Drafts users have the same issue, but as you say it seems to be an issue with my Apple Watch.

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After re-pairing the Apple Watch and iPhone and changing the app dictation language to English (US) - I had to do delete English (UK) Keyboard on the iPhone for it to persist - the on-device dictation works.

Might be useful for non-US English speaking Drafts users to know they can avail of this feature by changing the default language.

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As a UK English writer can I just say “Aargh!” ? :slight_smile: Seriously, this might be a dictation dictionary thing. As in “anything other than US English requires a dictation dictionary that’s off-board”.

I realize that could be a little off-color for a UK English writer :wink:

As far as I know Apple is offering the on-device dictation service in US-English only for now. I had to download the dictionary to get it to work which was fiddly. I imagine the offering will expand over time.

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As I have a cellular watch I’m probably OK. And the inconvenience of not being able to dictate while “running” is very slight. Every word a “huffy puff”. :slight_smile: So I think I’ll pass on converting to USAn. :slight_smile: