Does My Apple Watch Support The New Double-Tap Gesture?

AssistiveTouch on Apple Watch poster image Credit: Apple
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Neither the Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2 represented big updates this year. 

Apple only talked about a handful of new features during its presentation, including a brighter display, a more powerful processor, and the addition of a new feature called Double Tap.

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By far, that last one is the most interesting feature this year. Double Tap will let you control your Apple Watch with just one hand. But how does this work? And will you be able to use this feature on your older Apple Watch models? Keep reading to find out.

How Does Double Tap on the Apple Watch Work?

Wonderlust Apple Watch Series 9 33

As you can guess by its name, to use the new Double Tap feature on your Apple Watch, you need to tap your index finger and your thumb together twice.

The Apple Watch uses hardware sensors and algorithms to learn your usual blood flow and wrist movements. Once it detects that your blood flow and movements change, it can determine if you double-tapped your finger and thumb. 

When it detects that, it will use the double tap as a command to press the primary button on the app you’re using. For instance, if you’re using the Timer app, you’ll be able to start and stop a current timer. Or if you get a phone call, you’ll be able to answer it or end it by double-tapping with one hand.

Does My Older Apple Watch Support Double Tap?

While this feature seems amazing to have, Apple didn’t really say if Double Tap will be available on current Apple Watch models.

Apple has the tendency to completely forget about older Apple Watch models as soon as it announces a new one. For instance, if you go to Apple’s website, you won’t see any signs of the Apple Watch Series 8 or the original Apple Watch Ultra.

With that said, Apple did mention during its presentation that the Apple Watch Series 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 use the S9 chip to make use of the Double Tap feature, and that might actually be the case.

The current Apple Watch SE has the S8 chip, which is the same one the Apple Watch Series 8 has, yet Apple’s website indicates that the more affordable model doesn’t support Double Tap.

This suggests that Double Tap will be an exclusive feature for the current-generation Apple Watch models, making it pretty much the biggest selling point for the new Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2, given that this year’s models are otherwise nearly identical to last year’s Apple Watches.

You Can Still Use Double Tap on your Apple Watch (Kind Of)

While it is unfortunate that we likely won’t get Double Tap on older models, there is still a way for you to control your Apple Watch with hand gestures.

You see, Apple didn’t mention this during its keynote, but you’ve had the ability to control your Apple Watch with one hand since 2018, thanks to a feature called AssistiveTouch.

While Double Tap is a convenience feature, AssistiveTouch is designed to provide accessibility access for those who can’t control an Apple Watch with their other hand. This means it’s more powerful, but it’s also a bit more complicated. Here’s how to set it up:

  1. Press the Digital Crown on your Apple Watch.
  2. Go to Settings.
  3. Scroll down and select Accessibility.
  4. Scroll down again and go to AssistiveTouch.
  5. Turn AssistiveTouch on.

Then, you can go to Hand Gestures and customize how you want to control your Apple Watch. As you can see, you’ll be able to use single and double pinching and fist-clenching gestures to control various functions on your Apple Watch, and even navigate through menus and complications.

Granted, it’s no as intuitive as Double Tap on the new Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2, but it’s still a good way to try this feature without spending any money.

Is Double Tap Enough to Upgrade?

While Double Tap isn’t a groundbreaking feature, it seems it’ll be one of the big selling points for this year’s Apple Watch models. 

But if you don’t want to spend up to $800 to try this feature out, you can test it right now for yourself.

Keep in mind that even if you buy the Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2 right now, Double Tap won’t be available until a software update later this year, so you won’t be able to try Double Tap right away if you make the switch.

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