apple's handoff on iPhone

Handoff, which is part of Apple's Continuity, lets you transfer your activities between iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, iPod touch, and Mac. For example, you can start writing an email on your iPad, then switch immediately to your nearby email. Best of all, it's easy to do!

Handoff requirements

Handoff broadcasts activities using Bluetooth Low Energy (BT LE) and transfers them using Wi-Fi, either directly or through iCloud. Handoff requirements include:

  • A mobile device equipped with Bluetooth LE (iPhone 5 or later, iPad Pro (any version), iPad 4 or later, iPad Air or later, iPad mini (any version), iPod touch 5th generation or later, Apple Watch (any version)
  • Logged into the same Apple ID (iCloud account) on all your devices.
  • Connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
  • Mac running OS X Yosemite 10.10 or later.

Bluetooth LE is required because it both uses very little power, and it only works within a very close range. You want Handoff to always be available, but not draining your battery unnecessarily. Likewise, you only want devices that are nearby and under your physical control to pick up your activities. Security and privacy first.

Handoff compatibility

Apple has added Handoff support to the following built-in apps:

  • Mail, Maps, Safari, Reminders, Calendar, Contacts, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and many third-party apps.

Developers can also add Handoff support to App Store apps. Check the app's description for compatibility.

How to enable or disable Handoff on iPhone and iPad

Handoff should be enabled by default. If it isn't, or if you need to toggle it:

  1. Launch the Settings app from your Home screen
  2. Tap General.

    turn on handoff

  3. Tap Handoff.
  4. Toggle Handoff to On.

    turn on handoff

To disable Handoff, repeat the same steps but set the toggle to Off.

How to access Handoff from the App Switcher

When you're using an app on one device and it's available for Handoff, you'll see a message on the bottom of the App Switcher on your iPhone or iPad. For example, if you're surfing the web with Safari on your Mac, you will see a link to Safari on your mobile device.

In this example:

  1. On your Mac, open a website in Safari.

    safari on Mac

  2. On your mobile device, go into the App Switcher.
  3. Tap the message at the bottom of the screen to bring up the Safari page you were viewing on your Mac.

    open handoff on iPhone

It can take a few seconds or more for the app to launch and your activity to transfer over. Once it has, you can continue working right where you left off.

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Updated June 2019: Added iOS 12 information.

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