5 things you didn't know your Apple Watch could do

Here are some bonus features for your Apple wearable

Apple Watch Ultra 2
(Image credit: Apple)

Can you believe it’s been almost 9 years since we first strapped on an Apple wearable? Since then, the best Apple Watches have grown from luxury items (remember the gold one?) to fantastic fitness trackers. However, it's the tight integration with the rest of the Apple ecosystem what makes Apple Watches the best smartwatches.

As a matter of fact, there are a few somewhat hidden Apple Watch features most people don't know about, which we'll discuss below. Whether you’re new to watchOS, eyeing up the rumored Apple Watch Series X, or just want to try something new with the device you wear on your wrist every day, here are some of our favorite Apple Watch features you may not know. 

Honorable mention: Double Tap

Missing out on our main list because it’s only available on Apple Watch Series 9 and the latest Apple Watch Ultra 2 (at least without diving into your accessibility features), Double Tap is a tantalizing glimpse at the sort of Spatial Computing Vision Pro will offer.

Using your index finger and thumb, users can double-tap to trigger an on-screen button. Whether that’s starting a timer, answering a call, or anything else with a sizeable UI element in the middle of the screen, it’s very helpful indeed and is the closest many of us will get to feeling close to owning a $3500 headset.

5. Unlock your Apple devices

Apple Watch screenshot showing unlocking an iPhone

(Image credit: Apple)

If you’re new to using an Apple Watch, you may be surprised to know you can unlock your other Apple devices while on your wrist. 

Many users will know that you can unlock your Mac with it, but you can also use it for your iPhone.

Something I’ve found even more useful is authorizing macOS security features with a double-press of the Apple Watch side button, such as when installing an app not from the App Store. It’s certainly quicker than typing out your password every time.

4. Log your mental state

Apple Watch screenshot showing mindfulness app

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Watch is fantastic for tracking your physical health and body rhythms, but it’s also a great tool for tracking your mental health, too.

However you’re feeling, you can open the Mindfulness app on your Apple Watch and select how you’re feeling, either in the moment or overall, on any given day.

You can add a series of optional words, and it all gets logged in your Health app. You can also set up reminders on your iPhone so you can get a nudge when it’s time to log your emotional state.

3. Calculate Tips

Apple Watch screenshot

(Image credit: Apple)

What’s more rude at the end of a nice meal; pulling your phone out of your pocket or using your watch? Personal preference aside, it’s handy to be able to quickly calculate a tip for your server on your wrist.

Open the Calculator app on your Apple Watch, then enter the full bill amount and hit the Tip button for a quick and easy way of calculating how much to pay.

You can roll the Digital Crown to adjust the tip amount, too, and see how much each person owes towards it. Bon appetit!

2. Use Shortcuts

Apple Watch Ultra 2 with Action Button showing

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Apple’s Shortcuts app has gone from strength to strength on all of the company’s platforms, from the Mac to the iPhone and to the Apple Watch, too.

Shortcuts allow for not only a great deal of customizable automation but surprisingly accessible ones, too, and they can be triggered on your wrist. Whether that’s setting your smart home lights to a certain scene, connecting to your favorite headphones, or just about anything else, it’s all a tap of the wrist away.

Better yet, Apple Watch Ultra and Ultra 2 users can trigger them with their Action Button, even setting up more complex processes like a multiple-choice menu for picking between apps and functions.

1. Download media for offline playback

If you already knew about this one, then well done to you, but you’d be surprised how many people aren’t aware that you can do more with an Apple Watch’s internal storage than simply install apps.

Whether it’s Apple Music, Spotify, Podcasts, Pocket Casts and more, you can download your favorite playlists, albums or shows and play them straight from your watch.

That’s ideal for anyone who likes to leave their phone at home when going for a run, and it’s so freeing to be able to connect your AirPods of Bluetooth earbuds directly to your watch.

Lloyd Coombes
Freelance writer

Lloyd Coombes is an experienced freelancer from Essex, UK, specialising in consumer and fitness technology. His work can be found across the internet, including TechRadar, iMore, and plenty of other Future sites. A keen weightlifter, he's also editor-in-chief of GGRecon by day. When he's not writing or working out, you'll find him spending time with his son or playing Magic The Gathering.