“It’s Wild”: The Apple Watch 9 Hands-Free Feature Everyone’s Talking About

Apple Watch 9

As we all thought, Apple’s “special event”, held on September 12 US time, was the unveiling of a suite of new products, including the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max.

In addition to the new iPhone 15 range, Apple also announced new software iOS 17, which will be available as a free software update on Tuesday, September 19. Also announced were AirPods Pro (2nd generation), Apple Watch Series 9, Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Apple’s first-ever carbon-neutral products in the Apple Watch line-up.

One of the biggest product updates among all the announcements, though, was a feature on the Apple Watch 9, which Apple says on its site is “Magic. At your fingertips.”

“We’re adding something really cool,” said Apple’s chief operating officer Jeff Williams at the event. “The Apple Watch 9 has an incredible new gesture that uses just your watch hand.”

The new feature is a “double tap”, which lets you answer a call or skip a song just by tapping your index finger and thumb. The feature will also enable you to perform other actions controlled by the primary button in an app, like stopping a timer, snoozing an alarm or pausing music.

The gesture can even be used to take a photo with the Camera Remote on Apple Watch. Double tap will also open the Smart Stack from the watch face, and another double tap will scroll through widgets in the stack. You don’t even have to touch the phone — it’ll be able to detect your hand moving.

US gadget expert, Lance Ulanoff, posted a video to X (formerly Twitter) testing it out. “That is sick, I kind of love this,” he said in the clip, adding in the caption, “It’s wild.”

“This new double tap gesture is enabled by the faster Neural Engine in Apple Watch Series 9, which processes data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and optical heart sensor with a new machine learning algorithm,” writes Apple in a press release.

“The algorithm detects the unique signature of tiny wrist movements and changes in blood flow when the index finger and thumb perform a double tap.”

Apple Watch double tap
Image: Apple

The new feature will make the watch easier to use for situations like when you only have one hand free, like when carrying a coffee, walking a dog or doing something else.

Apple Watch Series 9 also features a brighter display and, for the first time ever, allows Siri requests to be processed on the device. A new feature called Precision Finding helps you more easily find a misplaced iPhone.

The new Apple Watch also has deeper integration with the HomePod. When an Apple Watch user gets within 4 metres of a HomePod playing audio, Apple Watch Series 9 will launch Now Playing to control the media. Or if nothing is playing on HomePod, media suggestions will appear at the top of the Smart Stack.

Apple Watch 9
Image: Apple

Apple Watch Series 9 is available in 41mm and 45mm sizes in starlight, midnight, silver, red, and a new pink aluminium case, as well as stainless steel in gold, silver, and graphite cases.

The more basic Apple Watch model, Apple Watch SE, is available in 40mm and 44mm aluminium cases and is carbon neutral when paired with a new Sport Loop band.

The new Apple Watch lineup can be ordered today, with availability beginning Friday, 22 September. Apple Watch Series 9 starts at $649, and Apple Watch SE starts at $399.

Related: 4 of the Biggest Differences Between the iPhone 14 and New iPhone 15

Related: Apple Unveils Its First Spatial Computer — and Yes, We’ll Answer Exactly What That Is

Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.