It's something straight out of Dick Tracy, but now fiction has become a reality and you can talk to friends and family from your wrist using the Apple Watch. Here, we explain how to make and answer phone calls on the Apple Watch, and try to give you an idea of what it's like.

Note that for most Apple Watch models you'll need to be within Bluetooth range of the companion iPhone in order to place or receive phone calls. If you've got a cellular-equipped Apple Watch Series 3, however, that restriction does not apply, and you'll be able to answer calls anywhere you can pick up a cellular signal.

How to answer a call on Apple Watch

If someone calls you while you're wearing your Apple Watch (and it's within range of your iPhone, or a cellular model that can work independently of the phone), you'll be alerted by a subtle vibration as well as an audible ringtone if you haven't set the device to silent.

Look at your watch and you'll see who's calling, along with an answer or decline button. If it's someone you want to talk to, tap the green answer button. There's a built-in speaker and microphone, so you'll be able to chat without getting your iPhone out of your bag or pocket.

Should you wish to take the phone call on your iPhone (don't forget that everyone else will be able to hear your conversation if you're speaking through your wrist unless you're using a Bluetooth headset), you can seamlessly transfer the call from the Apple Watch to your iPhone by scrolling up using the Digital Crown and tapping 'Answer on iPhone.'

If you are in a busy meeting, for example, you can mute an incoming call simply by covering the Apple Watch with your hand.

How to make a call on Apple Watch

You can also make a call directly from your Apple Watch.

Often the easiest way to do this is to use Siri, although this depends on how you've got your contacts and relationships set up. (Open your own card in Contacts and you can set your mum, dad, spouse and so on.)

Try saying "Hey Siri" and then "Call Mum," for example.

Alternatively you can open the Phone app from your watch, then tap Favourites, Recents or Contacts, then select someone to call - or select Keypad and type the number in manually. Then tap the green handset icon to dial the number.

If you're still on watchOS 1 or watchOS 2, you can access your favourite contacts by pressing the side button, but in watchOS 3 this was replaced by the (more useful, in our view) dock.