I tried Double Tap on my Apple Watch. Here’s why I love it

Apple Watch Ultra 2 showing the double tab icon in the smart stack.
Brian M. Wolfe/

I’ve heard some people criticize this year’s Apple Watches, saying that they aren’t much different from previous models. While it is true that the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 are identical to their predecessors, there are some changes about the new wearables that should not be overlooked.

As anyone who already has the new Apple Watch will tell you, new features this time around include a brighter display, a new processor, more storage, and more. There is also a double tap feature, which Apple is expected to launch in a few weeks.

Although Double Tap was announced during the iPhone 15 event in September, it is now only being offered on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 through the watchOS 10.1 public beta. The feature is expected to be available for public use in the coming weeks and will come through an upcoming watchOS release.

I’ve been using the double tap feature on my new Apple Watch Ultra 2 with watchOS beta installed, and I’ve found it to be a fascinating feature. I would classify this as one of those cool Apple features that you didn’t even know you needed before it was introduced.

What does Double Tap do and how does it work?

Apple showing finger movements with double tab.
Brian M. Wolfe/

The double tap gesture is intended to simplify tasks on your Apple Watch when your other hand is busy. This can be beneficial when walking your dog, carrying groceries, sipping your favorite beverage, or perhaps even while climbing a mountain. In these cases, you tap your thumb and index finger together twice on your Apple Watch hand to initiate a command on your watch.

Double tap may seem simple, just bringing two fingers together, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. The latest Apple Watches are equipped with the S9 chip and the new Neural Engine, which work together to process data from the watch’s accelerometer, gyroscope and optical heart sensor. A machine algorithm then analyzes this data to detect small movements and changes in blood flow associated with double tapping your thumb and index finger.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 showing a double tap icon.
Brian M. Wolfe/

Double tap is an action that triggers the primary button in the active app. For example, if you’re listening to Apple Music, a double tap can pause and play songs. It can also be used to answer or end calls from your wrist. Other examples of double tap usage include starting and stopping timers, pressing the snooze button on your alarm, and more.

If you don’t already have an app open on your Apple Watch, you can use a double tap to launch the brand-new Smart Stack feature in watchOS 10, which can also be launched by turning the Digital Crown. Smart Stack displays a series of widgets that provide you with relevant and timely information like weather reports, fitness ring status and more. The double tap not only opens the Smart Stack but also allows you to scroll through the widgets presented with a subsequent double tap.

Why is Double Tap so great?

A person makes the double tap gesture on the Apple Watch Series 9.
Andy Boxall/

Initially, I was quite skeptical of Double Tap, and I must say I considered it to be nothing more than a gimmick added to the otherwise ineffective Apple Watch release cycle. But after using it for a few days, I realized that it has the potential to be a game-changer for the Apple Watch. It’s incredible how such a small feature can open up so many new possibilities, both in the present and almost certainly in the future.

Although Double Tap is still in the testing phase, I don’t expect the tool to change much before it’s officially released. So far, it’s performing as promised, and it already shows a lot of potential. If you have an Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2, you can expect to get this innovative tool soon.

As I look toward the future, I see great potential for Double Tap to expand its features and even allow more fingers to be used. For example, while the Action button on the Apple Watch Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro is impressive, it only allows one function to be assigned. However, double tap can turn each finger into an action button.

Palette watch face on the Apple Watch Series 9.
palette watch face Andy Boxall/

For example, you can double-tap your pinky and thumb to launch a shortcut or touch your middle finger and thumb to throw something else. Additionally, with this technology, users of Apple Watch Series 9 and beyond can use their fingers as action buttons without the need for physical controls.

And what about single or triple tap? Couldn’t Apple make it possible to trigger additional actions with the index finger and thumb simply by measuring how many times the fingers are tapped together?

Maybe I’m being hasty here, but Apple is known for introducing new features that get better over time. Let’s be honest: How many of us expected to be able to control our Apple Watch with simple finger gestures in August? I would consider very few, if any.

It’s coming soon to your Apple Watch

Apple Watch Ultra 2 showing double tap icon.
Brian M. Wolfe/

Double Tap is a feature exclusive to the 2023 Apple Watch and their S9 processor. This means that only Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 owners can enjoy it.

I’ve been able to test Double Tap on the watchOS 10.1 public beta, and from what I’ve seen, it’s working well. With this in mind, my guess is that we can expect the new update to arrive in the third or fourth week of October, i.e. before Halloween, October 31st. It’s the perfect time for all those spooky Halloween parties and costume contests!

It will be very interesting to see what Apple has in store for Double Tap and whether early adopters will embrace it. I have a feeling that once Double Tap takes off, it will be everywhere in every commercial for the Apple Watch Series 9 come Christmas. This is a great new feature, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

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