The Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 now have access to Double Tap, one of the biggest new features on this year’s watches. Double Tap is a gesture that lets you tap your thumb and index finger together twice to control the watch without touching the screen. The update is part of WatchOS 10.1 and is available to download now.

Double Tap relies on the new S9 chip, so it’s only available on the Series 9 and Ultra 2. It uses the accelerometer, gyroscope and heart rate sensor to detect movement and blood flow when the watch’s screen is active. That means you’ll need to raise your wrist to get Double Tap to register. It won’t work if the display is dimmed, or if you’re not actively using the watch. You’ll see a blue icon appear at the top of the screen when the gesture is recognized.

There’s a long list of tasks and apps that Double Tap works with, but some of the key ones include:

  • Bringing up the Smart Stack of widgets and scrolling through
  • Answering and ending calls
  • Playing or pausing music
  • Replying to text messages with voice dictation and sending that message
  • Starting and stopping timers
  • Taking a photo with the iPhone’s Camera app using Camera Remote on the Watch

Scrolling through the Smart Stack with Double Tap.

Apple/Gif by Arielle Burton/CNET

Double Tap also works in some third-party apps and will perform the default action for that app. Examples include dismissing a notification or responding to a message from a different messaging app. 

I’ve been testing a prerelease version in the public beta of WatchOS 10.1, and it’s been accurate and reliable so far. Double Tap is turned on by default, but you can turn it off or customize it from the Settings menu.

Double Tap isn’t compatible with every app, however. You won’t be able to use it during an activity in the Workout app, when navigating in Maps, while taking an ECG or when using the Heart Rate or Blood Oxygen apps.

Double Tap is separate from AssistiveTouch, an accessibility feature that lets you control various aspects of the Apple Watch without touching the display. To download WatchOS 10.1, go to the Watch app on your iPhone, then tap the General option and select Software Update.

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