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Text messages giving intermittent notifications  



Hey all,

I have a client complaining of intermittent notification sounds coming in to her phone from inbound text messages, ever since around the time she got her Apple Watch. There are several twists and turns here, so please bear with me as I document this. 

Client: "I have my Messages app on my iPhone XS set up to play a sound when I get a text. For the last few months, I haven't gotten any sound notifications. Is that because my iPhone is paired to the Apple Watch I got in December? Is there any way to get notifications on my watch and also get sound notificatons on my phone?"

Me: To turn on the sounds there are a couple of places to check. First thing is to make sure the "silent" switch on the side of your phone is pulled towards you, so there won't be any red showing. The second is to go to Settings > Notifications > Messages, and make sure Sounds is on. 

Client: The switch isn't on silent and sounds is on, but I don't get text notifications. My phone rings when I get a call, but I don't get any sound when I get a text. Any idea about anything else I can do? I have my Apple watch set at "mirror my iPhone".

Me: That is a bit odd. Have you tried restarting your phone?

Client: I have. I've restarted it several times. The first time I get a text after the re-start, I get a notification, but then I never get another one.

Client (later that day): I'm not getting notifications on my watch now, either. I'm only getting them on my iPad. What's the best approach to this? 

Me: I'll need to post this to the forums and get back to you.

Client (next morning):  I just changed some settings and it seems to be working again! I went into Messages in the Apple Watch app. I checked custom, allow notifications and haptics and unchecked sound.

Client (next day): My texts alerts worked for about 24 hours after I changed the settings I told you about. I haven't changed anything and now they're not working again. Any idea what's going on?

Me: Definitely posting to the forums now. 😉 

This seems like such a weird issue. I feel like we need to reset a device. Any thoughts?


1 Answer

When an Apple Watch is paired to the iPhone, and the iPhone "Watch" app -> Message is configured to send notifications to the Apple Watch, then

  • When the iPhone is locked, the Apple Watch gets the notifications
  • When the iPhone is unlocked, the iPhone gets the notifications

As with many things Apple, there are fewer knobs to twiddle so you cannot get every combination/variation you desire, just the ones Apple has provided for.


Also to make sure there is an actual sound on the Apple Watch make sure Apple Watch -> Settings -> Sounds & Haptic -> Volume is turned up, and that "Silent Mode" is not turned on (it is just under the volume setting).