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What Is the Microphone Symbol on the Apple Watch?

As an Apple Watch user, I was recently frustrated when I noticed a microphone symbol had appeared on my watch face. After some research and testing, I was able to discover what this symbol meant, as well as some other solutions that may come in handy. In this blog post, I’ll be sharing what I learned about the microphone symbol on the Apple Watch, and how to use it to its full potential.

The microphone symbol is an indicator icon that lets you know that the microphone is enabled and that your Apple Watch is listening.  This icon will show when using popular microphone activating apps like memo recorder and Siri, but may also show randomly due to some features enabled.

If you want to know more about these features and how to control them, keep on reading this handy guide, so let’s dive right in!

TopicKey Takeaways/Tips
What is the Microphone Symbol on Apple Watch?The microphone symbol on Apple Watch is an indicator icon that shows the microphone is enabled and the watch is listening. It can appear orange in color and may also appear as an orange dot on the main screen.
Reasons for the Microphone Icon AppearingThe microphone icon may appear when using apps that activate the microphone, enabling environmental sound measurement, or using the Hand Washer app. It may also appear due to an error or bug.
What to Do If the Microphone Icon Appears with All Apps Closed?If the microphone icon appears with all apps closed, turn off the watch, wait a few seconds, and then turn it back on again. The icon should disappear and only appear when using an app that requires the microphone.

What Does the Microphone Symbol Mean on Apple Watches?

The icons at the top of your Apple Watch are designed by Apple to make it easier to understand the current status of your watch and what it’s doing.

As of WatchOS 7 and higher, the microphone symbol has an orange color, although it may also appear as an orange dot on your main screen.

If you see this symbol on your Apple Watch, it means that your watch’s microphone is enabled and the watch is listening to you for various reasons. 

We all value our privacy, so having an icon that says “your watch is listening to you” may sound a little scary. 

However, there’s nothing to be worried about here, as Apple WatchOS is pretty solid software and it’s highly unlikely that your watch is hacked.

Instead, it’s more likely that your watch is activating the microphone for a specific purpose, depending on how you set it up.

As a result, you’ll typically see this symbol if you’re using an app that directly activates your microphone but it can also happen randomly, but more about that in the following section.

Read more: Can you charge an Apple Watch without the charger?

Why Does the Microphone Icon Appear on Apple Watch?

There are several reasons why your Apple Watch may show the orange microphone icon. Here’s a quick look at some of the reasons:

1. You’re Using Apps That Directly Activates the Microphone

One of the most obvious reasons why your Apple Watch is displaying the microphone icon is when you’re using an app that requires the activation of the microphone to function.

This includes apps like Siri, memo recorder, and walkie-talkie as well as third party apps like Shazam. 

As long as the microphone icon disappears when you close the app, everything should be working normally.

2. Environmental Sound Measurement is Enabled

One of the features that are built into the Apple Watch is the Environmental Sound Measurement, which allows the watch to measure the level of noise around you in decibels.

This feature allows the watch to alert you when you’re in a place that is too loud in order to protect your ears. 

When that app is working, the microphone icon will appear randomly, although it only measures the loudness of the environment and doesn’t save the recorded samples.

3. Hand Washer App

The Hand Washer app detects when you watch your hands and help you to keep on scrubbing it for 20 seconds, as recommended by the CDC.

This app also uses the microphone in order to detect the sound of running water along with hand motion in order to operate, so you’ll typically see the microphone icon randomly popping up if you have it activated. 

Read more: Can Apple Watch be worn on the inside of the wrist?

4. An Error or a Bug

Lastly, if you don’t have any of these apps and features activated, you might see the microphone icon showing at your watch’s Control Center.

In that case, an error or a bug might be the culprit behind the microphone symbol showing on your Apple Watch.

This one is usually identified by elimination, so you have to make sure that you have deactivated and closed all the apps and features that use the microphone. 

Depending on the type of error, the microphone icon may pop up randomly or display continuously on the screen.

What to Do If the Microphone Icon Appears With All Apps Closed?

If you’ve closed all the apps that use the microphones and confirmed that your watch is suffering from a bug, simply turn the watch off, wait a few seconds, then turn it on again. The icon should go away and only display when you’re using a mic-enabled app.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the microphone symbol will usually show on your Apple Watch if you use any apps that involve listening to you to indicate that the microphone is enabled. 

This includes common apps like memo recorder and Siri, but can also include some features and modes like Environmental Sound Measurement.

If you have all the apps closed and you didn’t enable any modes that activate the microphone but the icon is still showing, a simple reboot of the watch should fix the problem.