Apple Watch is now live with Double Tap — here’s how to customize the gesture on watchOS 10.1
Double Tap is arguably the killer feature in the new Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2. The gesture is Apple’s answer to the problem of using a smartwatch when your opposite hand is holding a bag of groceries, dog leash, flashlight, or anything else. In addition, it can be a splendid accessibility feature for people with disabilities that could limit arm or hand mobility. Although the company only offers limited customization of the feature at launch, you can tweak a couple of settings to fine-tune Double Tap to your liking.
Update to watchOS 10.1
Before you can use Double Tap, you’ll need to ensure your Apple Watch is up-to-date. It requires at least watchOS 10.1, which Apple rolled out to customers on October 25. First, you need to update your paired iPhone to at least iOS 17.1, which became available the same day. You can do that on your phone in Settings > General > Software Update.
After upgrading your phone’s firmware, open the Apple Watch app on your paired phone, and then go to General > Software Update. Tap “Install” and wait for the update to complete. Your watch must be charged to at least 50 percent while on its charger to initiate the installation.
How to customize Double Tap on your Apple Watch
Although Apple may offer more customization in future software updates, Double Tap currently only lets you change how it handles audio playback and the Smart Stack. The latter, new in watchOS 10, is the pile of widgets you view from your watch face by swiping up from the bottom of the screen or scrolling up with the Digital Crown.
First, open the Apple Watch app on your paired iPhone to customize these categories. Select Gestures > Double Tap, and then choose from the available options:
- Playback lets you choose between pinching your fingers to play / pause (the default) or skip to the next track while listening to music or podcasts.
- Smart Stack chooses how Double Taps navigates the pile of widgets. “Advance” means each tap moves to the next widget (default), while “Select” will select the first widget with a subsequent tap.
Everything you can do with Double Tap on Apple Watch
After activating Double Tap, you can play around with all the things it can do. They include:
- Audio playback: Pause / resume or (after changing the setting above) skip to the next track.
- Phone calls: Answer or hang up a call.
- Notifications: Initiate the primary action from any alert. For example, reply to a message or snooze a reminder. (It works with third-party apps too.)
- Smart Stack: Scroll through widgets from any watch face.
- View messages: Read a full message when you receive a new text.
- Reply to messages: Reply with voice dictation when you get to the end of the message. Another Double Tap will confirm sending after you finish speaking.
- Read longer notifications: After opening an alert that doesn’t fit entirely on the screen, double-tap again to scroll through one that’s too long to display on your Apple Watch’s screen. You can repeat this until you’re at the end.
- Alarm: Snooze an alarm.
- Stopwatch: Stop or resume a stopwatch.
- Timers: When viewing a timer, pause (if it’s running), resume (if paused) or end the timer.
- Remote shutter: Take a photo on your iPhone when using the Apple Watch’s Camera Remote.
- Workout: Start or stop automatic Workout reminders if it detects that you’re exercising without having started a workout on your watch.
When you use Double Tap, a blue hand icon appears at the top of your watch’s screen. If you try double-tapping on something that isn’t compatible with the feature, the icon will appear and shake back and forth like it’s saying, “No.”
How to disable Double Tap on Apple Watch
If you navigate back to Settings > Gestures > Double Tap on your paired iPhone, you’ll see an option to disable the feature if you’re in a situation where you worry about triggering it accidentally. If you do that, you can always return to the same settings screen to re-enable Double Tap.
If you’re still on the fence about the Apple Watch models that support Double Tap, you can visit Engadget’s Apple Watch Series 9 review and our impressions of the Apple Watch Ultra 2.