How to Use Double Tap on WatchOS (2023)

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A smartwatch is designed to make your life easier and get you off your phone. Every time you have to dig your phone out of your pocket to read a notification, a digital fairy dies. However, a smartwatch is also less useful if you have to drop whatever you’re doing to squint and poke your finger at a tiny screen. In October, Apple debuted Double Tap in WatchOS 10.1. If you own a Series 9 or a Watch Ultra 2, you can now quickly tap the index and thumb of your watch hand to perform the primary action on your watch.

To develop Double Tap for the masses, Apple took learnings from the company’s accessibility feature, AssistiveTouch, which lets users switch to gesture-based controls. This leap was also enabled in part by the more efficient S9 SiP chip and a new four-core Neural Engine in the new watches. These features let the watch process data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and optical heart rate sensor with a machine-learning algorithm to detect minute changes in blood flow as you move your fingers.

If you’ve ever been walking, running, or biking and wanted to quickly check a text without dropping everything in your hands, Double Tap could come in handy. Here’s how to use it.

Is My Watch Compatible?

WatchOS 10.1 is compatible with Watch Series 4 and later. You also need an iPhone XS or later that is running iOS 17. It’s automatically enabled on the Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2.

How to Turn On Double Tap

Photograph: Apple

To check if your watch is running it, open Settings > Gestures > Double Tap to enable or disable it. In the Double Tap menu, you can select if you want Double Tap to play/pause your music or skip, and whether you want Double Tap to advance your Smart Stack or select.

It is worth noting here that Double Tap isn’t the first iteration of gesture-based controls on the Apple Watch. If you think you might like a few more gestures, you must first turn Double Tap off. Go to Settings > Accessibility > AssistiveTouch. Turn on Hand Gestures.

You can assign different controls to Tap, Double Tap, Clench, or Double Clench. For example, you can assign Action Menu to Double Clench. Unlike Double Tap, AssistiveTouch is intended for people with mobility issues who may need help turning the tiny digital crown.

How to Use Double Tap

Video: Apple

Double Tap works in most Apple Watch apps. However, there are a few exceptions:

  • Double Tap does not work with the ECG, Heart Rate, or Blood Oxygen features, or while the Sleep Focus is on.
  • You can use Double Tap to start a workout session if your watch sent you an automatic workout reminder. However, you cannot use Double Tap to stop in the middle of an active workout session.
  • You can’t use Double Tap with Walkie-Talkie, Maps, or Mindfulness while those apps are active. You also can’t trigger SOS features, like Emergency SOS, Fall Detection, or Crash Detection.

Double Tap works as the primary action button in most apps. You can use Double Tap to open and scroll through your Smart Stack, pause timers, take a picture with the Camera Remote app, or pause music.

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