"For family members who do not have an iPhone, Apple Watch offers a remarkable set of features that can help them keep in touch with loved ones, be more active, and stay safe," said Jeff Williams, Apple's COO
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Apple family setup
Credit: Apple

Since its debut, the Apple Watch has required an accompanying iPhone to configure it. But with the company's latest watchOS 7 update, parents can now purchase and set up an Apple Watch for children or older family members who don't have an iPhone. 

On Tuesday, Apple debuted "Family Setup," a new feature that allows parents to set up a child's Apple Watch using their own iPhone. With the device, children will be able to make phone or FaceTime audio calls and access apps such as Messages, Maps, Mail, and the voice assistant, Siri.

"For family members who do not have an iPhone, Apple Watch offers a remarkable set of features that can help them keep in touch with loved ones, be more active, and stay safe," Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, said on the company's website.

"With Family Setup, we're thrilled to extend these features to the entire family, so everyone can gain more independence and live a healthier life," he added.

The update is beneficial for parents who may want to communicate with and keep track of their children without them needing to own an iPhone. Parents will also be able to send money to family members using Apple Cash Family.

Apple family setup
Apple iPhone and Apple Watch
| Credit: Apple

Family Setup also adds a new feature called "Schooltime," which will set the device into Do Not Disturb mode when the child needs to concentrate on their studies or online learning.

"During Schooltime, a distinctive yellow circle is displayed on the watch face for teachers and parents to easily recognize, signifying that access to apps is restricted and Do Not Disturb is turned on," Apple says.

"For convenience, parents can also set the schedule on their iPhone so Apple Watch automatically goes into Schooltime during certain hours, or turn it on from Control Center on the child's watch," they continued.

"Downtime," a feature that has been available on other Apple devices, is also available on Family Setup. The option gives children a five-minute reminder before they should step away from their device for a designated amount of time, such as during dinnertime.

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But Family Setup isn't only valuable for children — older adults may find comfort in features like fall detection and emergency SOS available with Apple Watch.

Family Setup requires an Apple Watch Series 4 or later running watchOS 7 with an internet connection or cellular service.

Wireless carriers such as T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon offer LTE availability for Apple Watch for $9.99 a month. Once connected, carriers will provide Apple Watch users with a phone number through a separate plan.