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The Apple Watch's double tap feature is both fun and useful

Hitting snooze has never been easier.
By
November 24, 2023

The Apple Watch is one of the most intuitive and user-friendly wearables I’ve used. And thanks to the new Double Tap gesture control, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 are more accessible than ever. The feature is simple to learn and surprisingly handy in a pinch (pun not intended).

Before anyone gets exasperated, yes, Apple’s existing smartwatches already offer a series of similar gesture controls. These tools are buried in each device’s Accessibility menu. The difference with Double Tap is that the new feature is integrated into the base-level user experience. Apple specifically designed simple tasks for the Double Tap action that are central to device use.

Apple's new Double Tap gesture control is integrated into its wearable's basic user experience.

Double Tap also doesn’t require tailored settings or drain extra battery life. It relies on the computing power of Apple’s new S9 chip and quad-core neural engine, processing data from the device’s optical heart rate sensor, gyroscope, and accelerometer. It’s one of many minor upgrades in the newest generation.

An Apple Watch Series 9 owner uses Double Tap to respond to a text in the Message app.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Now, back to what Double Tap does. Simply put, the feature allows me to interact with the watch with one hand, whether to answer a call while sipping my coffee or to pause a timer without taking off my oven mitt. From the watch face, Double Tap scrolls Apple’s new Smart Stack so I can check in on key info like calendar events or weather forecasts. On a text thread, it can start voice dictation and send a message, making it easier to fire off an “on the way” text when I’m really still getting ready.

The gesture control completes several simple but common actions like answering a phone call, pausing a timer, or skipping an ill-chosen music track.

My favorite use is snoozing multiple alarms without removing my other hand (or head) from beneath the pillow. It’s not a foolproof system, but laziness rarely ever pays. Double tap can also pause and unpause audio playback so I can keep one hand on the elliptical and still control my music. If you want the option to Double Tap to skip content, you can enable the added action within your settings menu. I use this more than pausing music because, as it turns out, I don’t always enjoy the playlists I personally curated according to my own taste.

Still, Double Tap isn’t the cure-all for every one-handed scenario. In fact, it can’t do anything at all in most apps, though I’m hopeful Apple will continue to develop the feature. I certainly wish it were more customizable, especially from the watch face, as most users aren’t yet reliant on their Smart Stacks anyway. I would love the option to open a favorite app or start a workout instead. For now, it’s useful where it is integrated, and it’s fun in an “I know this isn’t magic, but doesn’t it kind of feel like magic?” way.

How to use Double Tap

Apple Watch Series 9 Double Tap
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Before you get your hopes up, Double Tap will only work on an Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2. Ensure your device is updated to the latest software. Also, notably, Double Tap is not available in Low Power Mode or during Sleep Focus.

  • Raise to wake your device.
  • Tap your finger and thumb together twice, and the Double Tap icon will appear at the top of the display.
  • If you attempt the gesture and no action is available, the Double Tap icon will appear and shake from side to side.
  • As mentioned, you can customize Double Tap in two scenarios via the Settings app on your Apple Watch. Tap Gestures > Double Tap and choose from the following:
    • Playback: Choose Play/Pause or Skip.
    • Smart Stack: Choose Advance or Select.

Utilizing Apple’s new Double Tap gesture control is one of our favorite Apple Watch Series 9 tips for making the most of your device. How do you hope to see the tool integrated further into the user experience? Comment your recommendations below!

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Apple Watch Series 9
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Apple Watch Series 9
Powerful processor
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Gesture controls and Siri features
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Apple Watch Ultra 2
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Apple Watch Ultra 2
Extra buttons and functions
Great battery life