Double Tap is the coolest Apple Watch feature I’ve used in a…

A person using Double Tap on an Apple Watch Series 9.
Andy Boxall/

Double Tap is one of the coolest features I’ve used on an Apple Watch in a long time. It’s not the most useful, and I don’t find myself using it very often, but when I need to tap my fingers together to activate a function, I’m still at the stage where I think, “Wow, this is this really impressive thing.”

Here’s why it’s an example of what Apple does best – and why it has so much potential for the future.

I was worried about double tap

A person wearing an Apple Watch Series 9 using the Digital Crown.
apple watch series 9 Andy Boxall/

Double Tap arrived with the official release of watchOS 10.1, not the initial release of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2. This put me off a bit at the time, along with the limited amount of functionality, and I was worried it would either be a gimmick or still a work in progress. That was enough for me not to bother using the public beta version of the operating system and wait for the final full release before trying it out.

I really don’t need to be worried. Although sometimes a little slow to respond, for me, Double Tap has had a flawless reliability record so far. When I double-tap my fingers together, the little symbol appears at the top of the Apple Watch Series 9’s screen and does what I expect. However, that’s not what makes me think it’s good. This is great because of how it works in the first place. It’s incredible what the combination of hardware sensors and software algorithms reveals when I tap my fingers together. at allLet alone consistently recognizing and acting on this subtle, simple gesture.

What I mean about Double Tap is that Apple does it really well. Apple has a special ability to take a seemingly simple thing – tapping two fingers together to prompt an action – and then turning it into something really technologically interesting. Using that works reliably for almost everyone on the device without any method of “seeing”. That’s what you’re doing, and there’s no need to configure or train it to do it. This frictionless, intuitive, easy-to-live-with approach defines the Apple Watch in general for me, from the way it tracks your health and exercise to the way it deals with notifications.

Why this feature is so cool (and a little weird)

Double tap symbol on Apple Watch Series 9
Andy Boxall/

I’m still at the stage where I get a smile when I use Double Tap, but unfortunately, that smile is very rare unless I force myself to use it, as the functionality is quite limited. It can answer calls, activate message replies, dismiss notifications, play and pause music, or scroll through widgets in watchOS 10’s new Smart Stack. It can also be configured to skip a music track or select a widget for a more detailed look. There may be a few more things it can do, but it’s still just a small, one-action skill set.

It’s not something I need to use all the time. Double tap is supposed to happen when you don’t have the ability to tap the Apple Watch’s screen, and not just for normal tasks. The slight lag encountered sometimes means it’s usually faster (and arguably more natural) to tap the screen if you have the ability to do so anyway.

Smart Stack on Apple Watch Series 9.
smart stack Andy Boxall/

Also, when I was messing around with Double Tap, using it gave me some weird looks. It requires a proper, complete gesture to carry it out, not one that can be subtly manipulated. Not everyone will understand that you’re taking this step to interact with your Apple Watch, so be prepared to look away once or twice.

Another weird effect is how I want to use it second gesture After double tap. For example, when I double tap through my Smart Stack widgets, I almost have to clench my fist to select one, effectively giving me full hands-free control of the Apple Watch in all situations. Get. This is part of Apple’s AssistiveTouch accessibility feature, which I’ve tried before, and is probably also a prelude to what Apple might do with double tap in the future.

What is the future of Double Tap?

A person makes the double tap gesture on the Apple Watch Series 9.
Andy Boxall/

Whether Double Tap evolves into a more diverse gesture control system that is available for use on the Apple Watch at all times is one reason why it excites me about the future. It is also known that gestures similar to double tap will be used to control the Vision Pro headset. Although it seems that the Apple Watch won’t need to be used with Vision Pro (it’s the camera system that will recognize gestures), it’s possible that should it be paired with the Apple Watch in some way, the system could be able to Have and do.

The Vision Pro won’t come with controllers, and apparently, Apple won’t even be making its own physical controller available as an accessory. This means that many people will (initially, at least) only control the headset through eye tracking and gesture recognition. The simplicity and reliability of the double tap on the Apple Watch gives me confidence in this future system, as it should be just as intuitive for people to immediately engage with the Vision Pro’s essentially unique experience.

What started out as a feature I feared might be forgettable (or wouldn’t even work very well) has made me even more curious about the Vision Pro — and I It also reminded why Apple and the Apple Watch are unmatched in the smartwatch world. It has neatly incorporated a simple yet technically complex feature and made it useful, reliable and accessible to everyone. Meanwhile, other smartwatches are still struggling to receive notifications.

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