Double tap, which lets Apple Watch users tap their thumb and index finger together twice to contextually control the watch, is one of the coolest features of the latest Apple Watch models. It wasn’t included at launch, but 9to5Mac reports that it’s available now in the watchOS 10.1 developer beta. The public beta and general release are almost certainly not far behind, but if you have an Apple Watch Series 9 or Ultra 2 and you’re feeling mildly adventurous, you can try it out today — it’s easy to sign up for the developer betas these days.
The contextual pinchy pinch lets you perform common Apple Watch tasks one-handed without resorting to tapping the screen with your nose. As my colleague Victoria Song wrote in her review of the Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2,
For example, say you get a text. If you double-tap, it’ll bring up the ability to reply via voice messages. Double-tapping again will send the message. For a timer, double-tapping once will pause the timer. Doing it again will unpause it. When the timer goes off, pinchy pinching will stop the timer. I’ve also used it to control the camera shutter, control my music, snooze alarms, scroll through watchOS 10’s widget stack, and answer / end calls.
The feature uses the S9 processor’s neural engine, which, Apple says, is why it’s exclusive to the Series 9 and Ultra 2. A vaguely similar pinch-to-navigate option has been available in watchOS’s accessibility options for years; it’s more powerful but less intuitive and more processor-intensive, and it’s designed for users with accessibility needs. Double tap is more of a convenience feature.
Vee said double tap was a little finicky when she tested a prerelease version; it took a while to get the hang of the timing, and she and the watch didn’t always agree on what it made sense for it to do in a particular context. It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, changes as double tap moves toward a full release. I’ll just be over here with my Series 5, air-pinching to no avail.