Not much was leaked about the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 ahead of the company’s launch event today, and it might be because most of the changes weren’t easily photographed. One of the biggest updates to the company’s flagship smartwatches is the S9 SiP, which promises better animations, on-device Siri processing, as well as a whole new gesture called Double Tap. The latter allows you to make a pinch gesture twice in mid-air and use it to do things like answer calls, pause music, dismiss alarms and more. There’s also a new material called FineWoven that’s meant to replace leather, and features in some new straps and accessories. While most of the other changes this year, like brighter displays and greater use of recycled material, are less exciting, I found myself very intrigued by Double Tap.
This isn’t Apple’s first attempt at gestures that minimize having to tap a smartwatch screen, by the way. It introduced Assistive Touch in 2021 to allow people who may not have full use of their fingers or have other mobility issues to clench their fists (and perform other actions) to navigate watchOS.
Based on my experience with both so far, Double Tap feels like a more refined version. I put on a demo unit of the Watch Ultra 2, and pinched quickly in mid-air. By default, doing so from the home screen brings up the Smart Stack, and continuing to double tap will scroll through individual cards. For the most part, the Watch Ultra 2 recognized all my pinches, and wasn’t tricked by me clenching other fingers together. It also wasn’t fazed when I touched my thumb to my knuckles, only reacting when I quickly brought thumb to index finger pad.
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