I use an Android watch, but even I have to say, when it comes to user interfaces, Apple knows how to hit the mark. That’s nowhere more apparent than with the new double tap gesture on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2, announced at its Wonderlust event, where it also debuted the iPhone 15.
I hope Google figures out how to get a similar gesture into Wear OS 4. Until then, I can show you how double tap worked on the Apple Watch Series 9 when I went hands-on with it. I also tried on a few of Apple’s new watch bands (no more leather) and the Apple Watch Ultra 2, which doesn’t look all that different from the last gen.
Apple Watch Series 9
Apple will release the Apple Watch Series 9 on Sept. 22. It features the new S9 SiP, Apple’s upgraded, more powerful watch chip. But what’s particularly special about this chip is that it is tuned to identify when your hand is performing the new double tap gesture. Apple says the feature relies on an algorithm that detects tiny wrist movements and changes in blood flow as you’re performing the maneuver.
The Apple Watch Series 9 comes in colours like starlight, midnight, silver, and a new pink aluminium.
The 45mm Apple Watch Series 9
The Apple Watch Series 9 comes in 41mm and 45mm sizes. I tried on the 45mm Series 9 in graphite, and it’s still a little too bulky for my wrist. The watchband featured here is the new green FineWoven with magnetic links. The magnets seem strong enough, but I haven’t gone waterskiing with the watchband to give you a hands-on review.
Everyone needs a double-tap gesture
I tried the new double tap movement after donning the 45mm Apple Watch Series 9. It’s intuitive but requires exaggerated gesturing to get it going. You kick off the command by raising your arm and then pinching twice, forcefully, with your index finger and thumb. It took me a few tries to figure it out. Double tap works as a toggle button, though it only controls the primary button in a watch app. It works best for things like answering a call or snoozing an alarm, though you can also use it to cycle through widgets in a Smart Stack.
I was sold on the double tap gesture when Apple debuted it in its keynote because I’ve been in a one-handed bind many times—carrying a kid, cooking, even just drinking coffee. I have used other parts of my body to try and answer a call from my watch, like my nose, only to remain unsuccessful.
Nike Sport band, recycled
Despite Apple working with Nike to ensure this watch band was environmentally conscious, I don’t think it’s saving the planet any time soon. Also, the “specks,” which are supposed to be recycled materials used in the watchband, are way more prominent in person.
Nike Sport Loop band, also recycled
The Nike Sport Loop band is made with yarn that I’m assuming is repurposed from Nike’s shoe factories.
Apple Watch Ultra 2
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 sports a whopping 49mm face. But despite detesting the size of the 45mm Apple Watch Series 9, I didn’t think the Ultra 2 was so bad. I was struck by how light it felt on my wrist. The titanium chassis certainly helps, which is also what makes the iPhone 15 Pro feel more lightweight than its predecessor.
The insides of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 are similar to the Series 9, including an S9 chip, access to the double tap gesture, and on-device Siri. And like the Series 9, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is Apple’s brightest smartwatch display at 3,000 nits.
Enjoy a Snoopy watch face
I liked the pairing of the 41mm Apple Watch Series 9 in graphite with WatchOS 10’s new Snoopy watch face.
At its 2023 iPhone event, Apple unveiled the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus, 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max, the Apple Watch Series 9, Apple Watch Ultra 2, USB-C for the AirPods Pro 2, Roadside Assistance via Satellite, and a bunch of environmental promises. This article has been updated since it was first published.
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