I just tried the Apple Watch 9 double tap feature — and I'm convinced it's the future

Apple Watch 9
(Image credit: Future)

Picture this: I’m making the arduous journey back from Trader Joes to my apartment with a heavy tote of groceries when my mom calls out of the blue. You always have to answer the phone when mom calls, right? But with my right hand holding my bag firmly and my iPhone stowed in my purse, I’m torn between letting the call buzz out (possibly sending my mom into a panic) or attempting to awkwardly tap the answer button with my nose.

Except now, with either the new Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2, I can simply tap my free index finger and thumb on my watch hand twice to answer the call, hang up the call, or execute a slew of additional controls. 

I had the chance to try double tap for Apple Watch myself after the Apple event on September 12. Though the feature won’t roll out to devices until October, there were some units with double tap available to try. And while I wasn’t in a situation such as I described above, I got a taste of what the most convenient Apple Watch experience yet feels like. 

Double tap works with your wrist raised and your Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2 awaiting the gesture in the background. Yes, although the next-gen Apple Watch devices don’t have a new optical heart sensor reading the minor wrist movements and changes in blood flow, only the upgraded S9 SiP supports the gesture’s algorithm.

There are too many applications of double tap to name, but I’ll walk you through the ones I tried for myself beyond answering phone calls. First and foremost, double tap opens the Smart Stack, the standout watchOS 10 update that curates a dynamic tile carousel on your wrist. When I continued the double tap gesture, the demo watch cycled through a collection of calendar, timer and music tiles.

When I opened the timer app and started a 10-second countdown, I could use double tap to pause, restart, and dismiss the timer. I imagine this will be helpful when I’m cooking and managing multiple timers while running a chicken dredge station.

Finally, I saw how double tap totally improves the Camera Remote app. I use Camera Remote to remotely facilitate iPhone capture content quite often, though it can be cumbersome depending on the type of photos or videos I’d like to take. Sometimes I’m intentionally holding an object in my non-Apple Watch hand, making it tricky to tap the capture button. Double tap solves this problem.

Double tap can also pause and play music, trigger talk-to-type for text messages, snooze alarms and more. I didn’t try these functions myself, but all in all, this suggests that double tap will permeate many parts of the Apple Watch user experience. I imagine it’ll take some getting used to, but as second-nature as it is to raise my wrist to wake the wrist, I expect double tap will become integral to navigating the watch. 

That said, the large-scale double tap adoption will take time. Since earlier-generation Apple Watch devices don’t support double tap, it’ll probably be a few upgrade cycles until a majority of users are able to access the feature. I don’t think double tap is enough to encourage an update from the Apple Watch Series 8, but we’ll have to wait to see how it's received once it's working next month.

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Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.