The Apple Watch boasts many features, from fitness tracking to social notifications and even games, and of course it can also tell you the time. One handy feature allows users to receive and respond to text messages. In this article, we explain how to send or reply to a text message on your Apple Watch.

Note that for most models this function will only be possible if you're within Bluetooth range of your companion iPhone; the exception is the cellular-equipped Apple Watch Series 3, which can receive and reply to texts anywhere it can get a cellular connection.

How to reply to a text on Apple Watch

When you receive a text message while you're wearing an Apple Watch, you'll be able to respond instantly without having to pull out your iPhone. You'll be alerted to the message with a gentle 'Tap' using Apple's 'Taptic' technology, and an alert will sound if you're not using the device on silent.

Raise your wrist and you'll be able to see who the message came from, followed by the message itself. Lowering your wrist will dismiss the message - it's as simple as that.

If you want to reply, though, scroll down with the Digital Crown (the circular button/wheel on the side of the Apple Watch) and you'll see a range of reply options. At the very bottom you'll find a list of short, smart replies that Apple thinks are relevant to the message - just tap one and it'll be sent off right away. (You can also add your own smart replies in the Apple Watch app for replying to future messages.)

How to send or reply to a text message on Apple Watch

Above these smart replies you'll see four icons.

How to send or reply to a text message on Apple Watch

There's a microphone, which lets you dictate a reply. Tap the dictate button and speak into your Apple Watch. Check that your words have been accurately transcribed, then press send to bring up the 'Send as audio message' and 'Send as text message' options.

The Scribble option is the alternative way to compose your own text reply - whether you use this or dictation will depend on your preferences and how accurate you've found Apple's voice recognition tech. Scribble lets you write out your message on the screen, using the full screen for each successive letter - it's faster than that sounds, and pretty accurate in our experience, but it can take some getting used to.

The smiley face icon lets you respond with an image or emoji: swipe left or right to browse through your options and recent images.

The heart icon lets you draw a simple image while will be animated when the recipient gets it. Presumably this is intended for pictures of hearts, but most of the ones we've seen have been rude.

How to send a text on Apple Watch

If you want to send a brand-new message to a contact, you can do so using the Apple Watch without needing to touch your iPhone.

First, press the Digital Crown to go to the Home screen, then tap messages. You'll be taken to a list of recent messages. Press firmly (this uses Apple's Force Touch technology to differentiate between a press and a tap), then tap New Message.

From there, add a contact and create your message in the same way you would when you're replying to a message.