Apple just announced its latest range of wearables, the Apple Watch Series 9 and the Ultra 2. Both feature a new chip and brighter displays, among other innovations, but what caught my attention was the new double-tap feature that allows you to interact with the smartwatch without touching the screen. Although the feature isn't out until mid-October, I was given the chance to try it out when I visited Apple's UK HQ in London recently.
Bit of a context in case you didn't read the news about the new releases or features when they were announced at the annual Apple Event 2023. Apple's latest wearables, surely to become the best Apple Watches to date, were announced last week, and they are sporting a new chip that enables the watch to access Siri without internet connections, among other things.
The new chip also makes interaction faster and lets you interact with the new Apple Watches in a unique way. Called Double Tap, the new gesture control option activates when you flick your wrist to look at the display. When the screen comes on, and you tap your index finger and thumb together quickly twice, you activate the primary action displayed on the screen – without actually touching the watch!
This is all dandy and enables you to perform a range of basic actions, such as answering/hanging up calls, dismissing timers, or accessing your Smart Stack. Double Tap doesn't work with all apps; however, your Apple Watch will let you know when it can't use the interaction by wobbling the Double Tap glyph at the top of the display.
I'm sure people will love the new gesture – I know I do! Better still, it's only available on the latest watches (the Series 9 and the Ultra 2), unlike other WatchOS 10 features, because you need the new chip for Double Tap to work, which makes it less confusing to decide which Apple Watch to get. Often, it's hard to tell what's unique about Apple Watches as new features trickle down to older models, which look more or less the same as the new ones.
I like the Double Tap feature, not because of what it does but what it suggests. It opens the door to introducing more non-touch interactions, which I hope to see more in the near future. I appreciate it's easier said than done, but if the watch can detect tiny movements like tapping two fingers together, who knows, we might see even more nuanced gestures recognised by newer chips in the future.
The Double Tap feature on its own has tons of potential. As mentioned above, you can only use it for a few things at present, but I'm curious to see what functions you can delegate to it. How about integrating Double Tap into workouts? Let's say, marking laps when running or turning the different Workout Views? So many possibilities.
For now, though, I can't wait for the feature to arrive on my Apple Watch Ultra 2 and the Apple Watch Series 9 so I can dissect it properly. Apple doesn't have a firm date for the launch of the new gesture – the company says Double Tapp will arrive in mid-October. Until then, I'll have to console myself with using the two watches without the new gesture. I'm sure I'll survive somehow.