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The Apple Watch’s electrocardiogram feature (ECG) can provide far more accurate heart rate readings than typical optical sensors and could even identify potential arrhythmias. But just how accurate is the ECG on the Apple Watch? How do you access it? And what do you do with that information? Read on, and we’ll explore the answers.

Read more: What is ECG, and why does it matter?

What does the Apple Watch ECG app do?

An electrocardiogram measures electrical signals from the heart. Since your heart is a muscle, it requires an electrical impulse to trigger contractions. As a result, it is possible for an electrocardiogram to measure the timing and strength of your heart rate. The result is a far more accurate reading than would be possible with an optical monitor. The ECG app compatible with the Apple Watch Series 4, Series 5, Series 6, and Series 7 provides users with on the spot ECG readings.

Using your Apple Watch ECG app, you can determine the following:

Irregular heart beat rhythms indicative of atrial fibrillation, or AFib

You exact heart rate at any given time

Heart attacks

Blood clots or a stroke

Other heart-related conditions such as congestive heart failure, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or other forms of arrhythmia

The Apple Watch ECG app is not intended to replace medical care or professional assessment. If you experience chest pain, tightness or pressure, or symptoms you think make be a heart attack, contact emergency services immediately.

In short, the Apple Watch ECG app allows you to take on-demand readings and record the results in Apple’s robust Health app. This allows users to keep tabs on their heart health and can cue individuals to seek medical assistance. Possible results in the ECG app include the following:

Sinus rhythm: This is a healthy pattern between 50 and 100BPM considered normal.

Atrial fibrillation: This is an irregular and possibly high pattern.

Low or high heart rate: This is a heart rate under 50BPM or over 120BPM.

Inconclusive: This means the recording can’t be classified.

Poor recording: Unique to ECG version 2, this means the quality of the recording was not adequate to provide a classification.

Of course, the reading to look out for is “atrial fibrillation.” If this is your result, assess how you are feeling, and consider booking a visit to your physician. Keep in mind that many things can affect your heart rate, such as exercise, emotional stress, or alcohol consumption. For example, if you have just completed a workout, your heart rate may likely be high. The best time to take a reading is when you are otherwise calm.

Identify atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that can cause an irregular and possibly rapid heart rate. You may find that your resting heart rate is above 100 beats per minute. This can cause other symptoms such as dizziness, breathlessness, and tiredness. Using the Apple Watch ECG app, users can test their heart rate if they start to feel unwell. There are also different types of atrial fibrillation:

Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation: Episodes that come and go

Persistent atrial fibrillation: Lasting for seven days or more

Long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation: Lasting for a year or longer

Permanent atrial fibrillation

Seeing as atrial fibrillation can come and go, a doctor might fail to pick up symptoms during a visit. This is where having a device that can potentially flag symptoms becomes useful. The Apple Watch might also be able to identify other forms of tachycardia, such as atrial flutter. Atrial flutter is similar to atrial fibrillation but has a more organized/less chaotic waveform.

View and share information

Once you have completed an ECG reading, you can review your results in the Health app on your paired smartphone. The ECG waveform and its associated classifications will automatically save as well as any noted symptoms. From the Health app, you can even save a PDF of your results to share with your doctor. This makes the Apple Watch ECG especially useful in helping individuals share important data with their medical team.

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Take cues to see your doctor

Thanks to the electrical heart rate monitor located on the back of the device and in the Digital Crown, the Apple Watch can provide an ECG “similar to a single-lead” ECG. This is not the same as the 12-lead ECG that doctors offer. The latter records signals from different angles across the heart to provide 12 separate waveforms.

It is important not to mistake the Apple Watch for a medical device. The Apple Watch ECG app should not be used to diagnose any condition as mentioned above. Despite Apple’s warnings, there is always potential for users to place too much stock in their readings.

The best way to think of the Apple Watch ECG app is as a cue to go and see a doctor.

How to set up the ECG Apple Watch app

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

To start using the ECG app on your Apple Watch, you first need to set it up in the Health app. This process will install the app on your device and provide it with the necessary permissions.

Open Apple’s Health app and scroll down on the Summary screen until you see the ECG widget under Get More From Health. Tap Set Up.

Follow the on-screen prompts which will include submitting your age. Unfortunately, the Apple Watch ECG app is not intended for those under the age of 22.

Related: Fitbit vs Apple Watch: Which is the best ecosystem for you?

How to take an ECG reading on Apple Watch

Launch the ECG app on your Apple Watch.

Rest the arm wearing the watch on a table or your own leg. Try to move as little as possible.

Place a finger from your opposite hand against the Digital Crown and wait until the app signals the process is finished. This should take 30 seconds.

See also: The best fitness trackers you can buy

Apple Watch ECG app FAQs

The ECG app makes it easy to share your readings with your doctor. You should share your results if you have any concerns about your heart health, receive concerning readings, or experience any concerning symptoms. Additionally, you can speak to your doctor about the usefulness of at-home readings in regards to your personal medical history. Like all tools, the Apple Watch ECG app can provide inaccurate results. It is important to trust your medical care to professionals.

Yes, an electrocardiogram can be called an ECG or an EKG.

While we have not conducted a side by side study for comparing ECG accuracy, a number of Apple alternatives also feature ECG sensors that have been approved by the FDA. This certification is an important distinction to look for when choosing a device based on its ECG capabilities.

If your Apple Watch ECG app is not working there are a number of solutions to try. First, make sure that your Digital Crown is clean and free of debris. If you still receive inconclusive results, check to see if you have the latest update on your device, or try restarting your iPhone and Apple Watch. Finally, you may need to uninstall and reinstall the ECG app.

The Apple Watch ECG app is a potentially useful tool, as long as it is used appropriately and with an understanding of precisely what it is and isn’t capable of providing. Additionally, the Apple Watch isn’t the only smartwatch with ECG capabilities. Check out the follow reviews to read more about alternative devices.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 review

Fitbit Sense review

Withings ScanWatch review

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What Is Offload App And How To Use It On Iphone, Ipad

Seeing the Storage Almost Full alert on your iPhone? In these situations, Offload App is a handy solution to manage space. You can use it automatically or manually to free up local iPhone storage. This tutorial will teach you what app offloading is, how to enable it, and how to re-download offloaded apps.

What is Offload App on iPhone and iPad?

In the earlier days of iOS, you had two options for an app: you either kept it on your iPhone or you deleted it. If you kept it, the app and its data continued to occupy local storage. If you deleted the app, the app itself and all its local data was gone.

In iOS 11, Apple introduced the option to offload apps. This is somewhat of a middle ground between keeping and deleting an app.

When you offload an app, the app itself is deleted, which clears local storage. But the app documents and data are still saved locally on your iPhone. Once you reinstall the offloaded app, you can keep using it like before as the app data is still saved. In other words: As opposed to deleting an app, which nukes its binary and data out of orbit, offloading ensures that app data, along with user settings and documents, remain on your device.

Given the increasing app sizes, it is sensible to offload apps to keep local iPhone storage unoccupied. And thanks to the availability of Wi-Fi pr cellular, downloading an app is quick and easy.

So, whether you have a 16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB iPhone, or one that’s full, offloading apps is a great way to optimize storage. You can do it manually or have your iPhone offload apps automatically.

How to manually offload apps on iPhone and iPad

Open Settings and tap General.

Tap iPhone Storage and give it a while to load.

From the list of apps, tap the app you want to offload.

Tap Offload App and confirm.

Can I offload all apps?

You can offload all third-party apps you downloaded from the App Store and several Apple apps like TV, Music, Mail, Files, Maps, Books, Reminders, Podcasts, Contacts, Calendar, Shortcuts, Measure, Home, Compass, Stocks, FaceTime, Tips, iTunes Store, Translate, Calculator, Weather, Voice Memos, Notes, Magnifier, and all other Apple apps like iMovie, Numbers, Pages, Keynote, Apple Support, Apple Store.

You cannot offload or delete Photos, Phone, Safari, Wallet, Messages, and Health apps.

One interesting thing to note is that if you have an Apple Watch paired with your iPhone, you cannot delete or offload the Watch and Fitness apps. But if you don’t have an Apple Watch paired, you can offload or delete the iOS Watch app.

If you offload or delete the FaceTime app, you can continue to make FaceTime calls from the Phone or Contacts app.

How to automatically offload apps on iPhone and iPad

Manually finding and offloading apps can be a chore. If you struggle to keep local space free, you can let your iPhone offload apps automatically to optimize storage. Once you enable it, your iPhone will automatically offload apps that you have not used in a while.

Here’s how to set automatic offloading of apps on iPhone and iPad:

Open Settings and tap General.

Tap iPhone Storage.

Under Recommendations, tap Enable next to Offload Unused Apps.

Caution: Some people enable this, forget about it, and then worry as they have to re-download the app again.

How to re-download an offloaded app

Even after you offload an app, its app icon stays on the Home Screen and App Library. You’ll see a download arrow before the app name, which signifies that this app is offloaded. Tap the app icon to download it again. As mentioned, the app data is still on the device.

Finally, you can also search for the app in the App Store and tap the download button.

Check out next:

Guide: How To Use The Apple Music App On Apple Tv

Maybe you just bought your first Apple TV or perhaps you’ve only used it for shows and games. The Music app on Apple TV works very much like it does on your other devices. You can discover something new, manage your library, and search for a particular song, album, or artist.

Don’t take the Apple Music app on your Apple TV for granted. Use it for background music as you work or pump up the volume for a get-together with this guide to using Music on Apple TV.

Your Music on Apple TV guide

This guide is divided by the sections you see in the Music app on Apple TV. So, browse them all or use this table of contents to jump to a certain spot.

Listen Now


Here, you can Browse featured videos or albums, view Apple’s picks, check out new music, listen by mood, see what’s hot or what’s been updated, and much more.


Take a scroll through the Videos section if you enjoy music videos. You can browse by featured, new, genre, essentials, and live music.

Actions for videos

Plus sign: Add the video to your library.

More (three dots): Select from actions like Go to Artist, Add to Library or Playlist, Play Next, Love/Unlove, and Suggest More/Less Like This.

AirPlay: Pick your device from the list.

Shuffle: Shuffle the play order for the videos in that category.

Repeat: Automatically play the video again.


Radio is the section you want for radio shows. Browse the sections for radio hosts, interviews, local, international, or stations by genre.

Actions for radio shows and stations

More (three dots): Select from actions like Go to Artist, Play Next, Create Station, Love/Unlove, and Suggest More/Less Like This.

AirPlay: Pick your device from the list.

Shuffle: Shuffle the play order for the radio shows in that category.

Repeat: Automatically play the show again.


For all of the music you save and playlists you create, head to the Library section of Music on Apple TV. You’ll see navigation on the left side that lets you switch from Playlists to Songs to Composers. Below that, you have genres that categorize your music for you.

Certain areas in your Library navigation can be sorted, shuffled, or simply played.

You can sort playlists by type, title, recently added, or recently played. But you can sort albums, songs, and complications by artist, title, or recently added. And finally, you can sort songs within the genres by title, recently added, oldest first, or newest first.

Now Playing

This shows what you are currently playing. For instance, if it’s a song, you can use actions to view the lyrics and see more songs like it. Or if it’s an album, for example, you can swipe to see the other songs on it, add it to your library, or go to the artist detail page.

Actions for songs

If you’re playing a song that you’d like to add to your library or see the lyrics for, this is easy. While the song is playing, you’ll see two buttons below the artwork and two above it.

Plus sign: Add the song to your library.

More (three dots): Select from actions like Go to Album or Artist, Add to Library or Playlist, Create Station, View Full Lyrics, Love/Unlove, and Suggest More/Less Like This.

AirPlay: Pick your device from the list.

Actions for albums

You have similar actions for an album and its songs as those above. In addition, when you select an album, you’ll see the following action buttons on the detail screen as well as the screen when playing a certain song from the album.

Add: Add the album to your library.

Shuffle: Shuffle the play order for the songs in the album.

Autoplay: Enable for continuous music playing automatically.

Go to Artist: Go to the artist details page to see additional songs, albums, videos, a biography, similar artists, and more.

More: Select from actions like Go to Artist, Add to Library or Playlist, Play Next or Later, Love/Unlove, and Suggest More/Less Like This.


The Search feature lets you find artists, songs, lyrics, albums, and more in the Music app. Hold the Microphone button to dictate or use the letters to spell out your search term.

You can also scroll down through sections. You’ll see everything from music genres like pop, rock, and  country, to themed categories like focus, motivation, and sleep.

Wrapping it up

And there you have it! Your complete guide to using Apple Music on your Apple TV. If you notice differences in the app on your own Apple TV then what we’ve listed here, keep in mind this guide is based on tvOS 14.

Over to you! Let us know your favorite sections, features, or actions in the Music app on Apple TV. And for more, take a look at how to disable explicit music and podcasts or manage your Apple Music queue on Apple TV.

How To Use Apple Watch With Gym Equipment

Your Apple Watch and cardio machines inside gyms can talk to each other. Using your Apple Watch with gym equipment like treadmills, ellipticals and indoor bikes gives you a better, more complete set of metrics such as heart rate, distance, speed, elevation and so forth. iDB lays out ways to use Apple Watch with gym equipment, including how to pair your Apple Watch with cardio machines and how to start and end a workout on the gym equipment.

What is GymKit?

GymKit is Apple’s technology platform that lets you connect Apple Watch workouts with cardio equipment such as treadmills, ellipticals (crosstrainers), stair steppers and indoor bikes. Spinning bikes, resistance machines and other equipment are currently unsupported.

Syncing Apple Watch data with GymKit-enabled machines gives you the most accurate distance, cadence, pace, energy burn and other metrics possible. Your heart rate continue to be measured by the heart rate sensor built into the watch, but gets displayed on the machine’s screen. Apple explains that only a software update along with a small upgrade of the contactless NFC sensor is required in order to add GymKit compatibility to these machines.

With GymKit, important stats like your heart rate, distance, speed, floors climbed, incline, pace and calories is always in sync between the watch and your favorite cardio equipment.

In isolation gym equipment and the Apple Watch used for indoors can be a little incomplete. The watch is good for heart rate, but distance, accuracy and elevation on a treadmill is impossible. Likewise, no-one actually calibrates their treadmill in the gym so even if you do use a chest strap, calorie burn is normally way off.

A GymKit stair climber, for example, is able to calculate floors you’ve climbed more accurately by polling its own sensors rather than rely on the Apple Watch sensors which can only track actual flights of stairs as you change altitude.

GymKit requirements

To use GymKit, you need the following:

GymKit has seen limited adoption so far.

GymKit availability

The feature is currently supported by a handful of large gym chains. Apple says it’s wrangled up support for GymKit from the biggest gym equipment manufacturers that ship eighty percent of the cardio machines used in gyms around the world.

GymKit is available in the following gym chains:

Core Health and Fitness (Cybex, SCIFIT, StairMaster, Star Trac, Schwinn and Nautilus)


Life Fitness

Matrix Fitness

Octane Fitness


TRUE Fitness

Virgin Active



GymKit officially debuted with launch support for Life Fitness, Core Health and Fitness, Matrix Fitness and Technogym as part of the watchOS 4.1 software update which released to the public on September 19, 2023. watchOS 6.1, released on October 31, 2023, extended compatibility to Octane Fitness, TRUE Fitness and Woodway.

Follow along with iDB’s step-by-step tutorial to learn how to connect Apple Watch to compatible gym equipment and experience two-way synchronization of data with just a tap.

How to use Apple Watch with gym equipment

Follow the steps below to learn how to use Apple Watch with gym equipment, from pairing the wearable device with compatible machines to starting and ending workouts.

How to pair Apple Watch with gym equipment

With NFC technology in Apple Watch, you can effortlessly connect the wearable device with compatible pieces of gym equipment, and here’s how:

1) Start by enabling the ability for your Apple Watch to detect gym machines. Navigate to Settings → Workout on the watch (or to My Watch → Workout in the Watch app on your iPhone), then slide the toggle Detect Gym Equipment to the ON position.

2) Verify that your favorite gym machine is compatible with HomeKit by looking for the sticker “Connects with Apple Watch” or “Connect with Apple Watch” on the equipment.

3) To quickly connect, hold the watch within a few centimeters of the contactless NFC reader on the gym machine, with the display facing the reader as if you were using Apple Pay.

This will automatically launch the Workout app. You will feel a gentle tap on your wrist and hear a beep as a confirmation that the watch is paired.

Forgot to switch on the Detect Gym Equipment option in Settings?

Not to worry, you can also start a workout by launching the Workout app, then hold the watch near a gym machine — again, with the display facing the machine’s contactless reader. The amount of rich data from the gym machine that’s displayed on the watch depends on the type of the selected workout, as explained by Wearable:

From a run you’re able to see calories, distance, time, average pace, elevation gain, average heart rate and recovery heart rate. And from a treadmill run, that’s actually a staggering amount of data. You’d be hard pressed to find that level of detail anywhere else from an indoor workout.

Cyclists will also be pleased. In addition to that same data you’ll get power wattage and RPM from the bike, which is data that even outdoor cyclists struggle to capture. And if you’re into the stepper, you’ll get floors climbed too, which would previously have been impossible to measure from just the Apple Watch.

Forgot to pair the watch with the gym machine before your workout?

No problem, simply tap the watch to your gym equipment while in a workout session and watchOS will automatically sync up the data. But wait, that’s not all — you will even get full credit for the workout session both on the watch itself and within the Workout app.

How to start and end workouts

Upon connecting the watch to a piece of gym equipment, you can start and end a workout using its onboard controls rather than the Workout app, and here’s how:

Start your workout: Press Start on the gym equipment to begin the workout.

End your workout: Press Stop on the gym equipment to end the workout.

Like before, you can also start and end your session in the Workout app like you normally would. “When you end your workout, data from the equipment appears in the workout summary in the Activity app on your Apple Watch and iPhone,” Apple explains.

GymKit and your privacy

GymKit was designed to protect your privacy.

You can choose what you share with your gym equipment at any time. After pairing your watch to a GymKit-compatible machine, the devices exchange data as soon as you start and stop workouts on the watch. With your workout ended, the gym machine saves data to the watch.

According to Apple’s privacy policy regulating GymKit data sharing, the gym equipment is required to discard the data as soon as it has been transferred to the watch. However, as the privacy policy spells out, the equipment manufacturer may collect and retain data about your workout that is synced to the equipment from your Apple Watch.

Need help? Ask iDB!

What Are Apple Passkeys And How To Use Them

Are you tired of trying to keep track of all your online passwords? Or does the fear of being a victim of a phishing attack run through your head every time you log in to an application? If so, then Apple has some good news for you. Apple has eliminated the need for passwords with passkeys. In this guide, we cover what Apple passkeys are and how you can use them on a Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

What Are Apple Passkeys?

Before we dive into the anatomy of passkeys, let’s go over how traditional passwords work.

How Do Traditional Passwords Work?

When you register an account, you enter a username and password. The application’s (or website’s) server that you are logging in to stores this information. To log in to your account, you need to enter the username and password for the server to authenticate that it’s you who’s trying to gain access by matching the entered username and password with the stored credentials.

This is how we have been logging in to our accounts, and with the use of two-factor authentication, it has become quite secure. However, there are many points of failure when you log in with a password. For instance, you can be phished.

Tip: check out the best 2FA apps that will sync with multiple devices.

How Do Apple Passkeys Work?

Unlike regular passwords, where you enter a secret phrase and gain access to your accounts, passkeys do things a little differently. Instead of just having one secret phrase to log you in, passkeys require two secret phrases: one that is stored on your device and verifies your identity and another that’s stored on the application’s end that authenticates its legitimacy.

The secret key stored on your device is known as a private key, and the one stored on the application’s end is known as the public key. To log in to an application or website, your device will first check the application’s public key, and when it is verified, it will use the associated private key to authorize the sign-in.

All of this happens in the background, and you only have to verify your identity with Touch ID or Face ID. Since passkeys also verify the legitimacy of the application before using your secret key to log in, there is no chance of phishing or other hacking attempts.

Good to know: if you want to stay on top phishing and hacking attempts, you may need to change password, and maybe even your Apple ID.

Which Devices Support Passkeys?

Apple announced Passkeys for iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura. If your device supports these updates, then you can use passkeys to log in. One thing to keep in mind is that passkeys are not Apple’s exclusive feature.

In fact, it was developed by the “FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Alliance,” an open alliance of tech companies. They work to ensure that the reliance on passwords is decreased due to the threats they pose. It’s also a reason that another name for a passkey is FIDO authentication.

Google also announced that passkeys would be available in Android by the end of 2023 for developer testing. Windows will be getting support for passkey in the near future as well.

Tip: If you’re worried about your passwords in Google, learn how to use the Google password manager in Chrome.

How to Use Apple Passkeys on Your iPhone, iPad, and Mac How to Enable Passkeys on Mac

Follow these steps below to use Apple Passkeys on your Mac:

Toggle on “Keychain.”

When you enable iCloud Keychain, it may ask you to authorize with two-factor authentication. If you haven’t set up 2FA, you need to before enabling the Keychain.

How to Set Up Apple Passkeys on Mac

Apple has made the transition from old-school passwords to passkeys very seamless. It uses Autofill to type your information and Touch ID or Face ID for biometric verification. Follow the instructions below to create an Apple passkey:

Head to the website or application that supports FIDO authentication (or passkeys).

Enter your information or use Autofill to do it for you.

How to Enable Passkeys on iPhone or iPad

Before you start using passkeys to log in to applications or websites on your iPhone or iPad, you’ll need to make sure iCloud Keychain is enabled. Follow the steps below:

Open the settings app on your iPhone or iPad and scroll down to the “Passwords” menu.

Tap “Password Options.”

Make sure “Autofill Passwords” is turned on and enable “iCloud Passwords & Keychain” from the menu below.

After enabling iCloud Keychain, Apple will ask you to authorize this action with two-factor authentication. If you haven’t set up 2FA already, do that before you enable Keychain.

Good to know: Are you using an iPhone with Windows? Follow this tutorial to learn how to use your iCloud Keychain on Windows.

How to Set Up Apple Passkeys on iPhone or iPad

Whether you’re creating a new account on a site/application or upgrading a preexisting one to use a passkey, the transition is quite simple. The only catch is that the app or website needs to have official support for passkeys.

Follow these steps to create a passkey on iPhone or iPad:

Go to the application or website that supports Fido authentication (or passkeys).

Tap “Register,” “Sign in,” or “Sign up,” depending on the situation.

Enter your information or let Autofill do it for you.

After entering the information once, Apple will ask if you want to save a passkey for the site or application.

Tap “Continue” and Apple will verify this change by using Touch ID or Face ID.

FYI: did you forget your Apple Watch passcode? Learn how to reset your Apple Watch without it.

How to Recover Your Apple Passkey If You Lose Your Device

If you lose your device that has the passkey, you can use your other devices to sign in, as, again, the iCloud Keychain syncs passkeys across all Apple devices.

However, if you lose your only Apple device, you need to use the iCloud Keychain escrow to recover the passkey. iCloud Keychain escrow uses a secure infrastructure to ensure that only an authorized person recovers the lost passkey.

To recover your Apple passkey using another (or a new) Apple device (Mac, iPhone, or iPad):

Authenticate your identity by logging in to your iCloud account. If the device is not trusted, you may also receive an authentication SMS on your trusted phone number that you will have to enter before you’re logged in to your iCloud account.

Enter your device’s password.

Your passkeys will now be restored to the new device after verification.

Note that you only have 10 attempts to authenticate your identity, after which, iCloud will permanently delete the escrow and Keychain records. This security measure provides protection against a brute-force attack.

Tip: Learn how to make Safari on iOS save your passwords.

Frequently Asked Questions Can Apple read the passkeys?

Apple cannot read the passkeys, as they are stored in the iCloud Keychain. Along with being synced across all of your Apple devices, they are also end-to-end encrypted.

Are passkeys a complete replacement for all online passwords?

Even though passkeys have the potential to completely replace all online passwords, they require some serious changes from the websites and applications to create and share the public keys. However, once a website or application has added FIDO support, you can use passkeys as a sign-in option.

Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots by Hashir Ibrahim.

Hashir Ibrahim

With over two years of in-depth experience working in technical fields, Hashir is a master content creator who loves writing about Mac and iOS at major tech publications on the internet like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. Hashir spends his free time boxing and designing his business.

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What Is Nat, How Does It Work, And Why Is It Used?

You might have heard of something called an IP Address, – if you haven’t, start off by reading our article explaining the concept – but for this article on NAT (Network Address Translation) you need to know that IP addresses are limited. You also can’t have two devices on a network with the same IP address. 

The problem is that different networks, such as your home network and computers on the internet as a whole, will inevitably have the same IP addresses or have incompatibilities in how their network addresses are set up. NAT solved both the problem of IP address scarcity and incompatible networks that need to talk to each other. 

Table of Contents

Most of the time it’s not something you need to worry about, but sometimes your internet woes are a result of NAT going wrong. So having a basic understanding of what NAT is and how it works can help solve the issue.

Where Does NAT Happen?

In the case of regular users like us, NAT is a job handled by your router. The router has an IP address assigned to it by your service provider. That’s the address that the rest of the internet sees. Every device on your home network is assigned a private IP address, which is what they’ll use to talk to each other. 

When a device on your network wants to communicate with the outside world, the router stands in for it. The router has a public IP address, which everyone else sees. It keeps track of which private IP addresses requested what traffic and makes sure the data packets are routed to the right device.

Private Vs Public IP Addresses

By convention, certain ranges of IP addresses are reserved for specific purposes. Public IP addresses are reserved for the internet-facing devices such as your router or web servers. Your ISP allocates a public IP address to your router and that’s the address that all outsiders on the web see. Typically a private internet address is something like 192.168.0.X or 10.1.1.X, but this varies from one router to the next. While private addresses have to be unique within a private network, they are almost certainly the same between private networks.

A public IP address, as mentioned above, is the one seen by everyone else on the internet. When you visit a website, your browser is connected to its public IP address. Typically, home routers don’t allow direct access through its public IP address that wasn’t initiated by it. This means you can’t just type in the public address of your friend’s router and have access to devices on their network.

However, some web services and devices, such as video game consoles, need a more lenient approach. This is where various NAT types come into play. Often problems arise from your connection’s NAT type being wrong for the type of service you’re trying to use. We’ll cover NAT types in more detail next.

NAT Types

While the basic idea of what NAT is isn’t too complicated, in practice there’s a lot of nuance to how it actually works. There are various types of NAT that are appropriate for different translation needs. 

Static NAT

The static style of NAT maps one specific private IP address to a specific public IP address. With static NAT it’s possible to access the device mapped to the public address directly. 

This is the type of NAT used for web servers that are also part of a private network. When accessing the server through this static map, you can’t also access the other devices on its private network. The server itself, however, can talk to the devices on its private network with no issue.

Dynamic NAT

Dynamic NAT is used when you have a pool of public IP addresses that you want to dynamically assign to the devices on your private network. 

This is not used for web server access from outside the network. Instead, when a device on the private network wants to access the internet or another resource not on the private network, it is assigned one of the public IP addresses in the pool. 

NAT Overload (PAT)

With elements of both static and dynamic NAT, the NAT overload style is the most common form and is what most home routers use. It’s known as NAT with Port Address Translation (PAT) among other names.

In most cases, your router has one public IP address assigned to it, yet all the devices on your network probably want internet access. Using NAT overload the router sets up a connection between its public IP address and that of the server. It then sends the packets to the server, but also assigns a return destination port. 

This helps it know which packets are meant for which IP address on your private network. That’s the PAT part of the process, incidentally.

Proprietary NAT Types

To muddle things even more, some companies have decided to slap their own NAT classifications on things. This is mostly applicable to game consoles and you’ll find that when you do a network test, it will tell you that you’re using something like NAT Type 2 or NAT Type D. 

These classifications are specific to the console or device makers and you should check their official documentation to figure out what each classification actually means.

Common Fixes for NAT Issues

Most of the time, for most people, NAT works perfectly and with complete transparency. Sometimes however, it malfunctions or gets in the way. 

Once again, game consoles are most likely to run into issues, because some of their services need your network to accept access requests to your public IP address from outside, since standard NAT configurations usually don’t allow this. The good news is that there are a few common fixes you can try to make NAT less restrictive and allow incoming connections.

You also have the option of doing manual port forwarding, so that devices that need a less strict connection can get it on a case-by-case basis.

It’s Only NATural 

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