Apple Watch: A Take Control Crash Course
by Jeff Carlson

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Table of Contents

Interact with the Apple Watch

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, he explained that the ideal tool to use it was not a stylus or physical buttons, but our fingers. The responsiveness of the touchscreen made finger gestures—tapping, swiping, and pinching—the new language of how to interact with technology. But fingers are usually too big to do the same with a watch , so Apple incorporated additional interaction methods in the Apple Watch.

**①** Pinch-to-zoom on the Apple Watch obscures the face. Don’t worry, you won’t be doing that.
Pinch-to-zoom on the Apple Watch obscures the face. Don’t worry, you won’t be doing that.

The Digital Crown

Let’s start with the signature new controller, the knob on the side called the Digital Crown. A crown is a staple of mechanical watch design, used to set the time and, on some models, to wind the mechanism that keeps it running.

Turning the Crown

Turning the Digital Crown scrolls content on the screen, zooms in and out on the Home screen and when viewing photos or maps , and switches between other visible options.

**②** Turn the Digital Crown to zoom into a map.
Turn the Digital Crown to zoom into a map.

Pressing the Crown

Pressing the Digital Crown has various effects, depending on the context:

The Side Button

**③** Pressing the button below the Digital Crown reveals your friends.
Pressing the button below the Digital Crown reveals your friends.

Interacting with the Screen

When you raise your wrist, the watch detects the movement and activates the screen. You can also tap the screen to wake the watch.

The watch’s Retina display is a touchscreen, so you can tap or drag as you can with an iPhone. In fact, you can usually scroll with a finger instead of the Digital Crown if that’s more convenient.

Apple has also added watch-specific views called glances: swipe up from the bottom of the watch face (but not in other screens). A glance can reveal the day’s calendar events or music playback controls, for example. Swipe left or right to switch between glances. (Jump ahead to Glances for more on configuring these snippets of data.)

Unlike most iOS devices, which don’t care how hard you tap, the Apple Watch can tell the difference between a normal tap and a harder force touch: the screen registers pressure sensitivity. In the Maps app, for instance, a force touch brings up options such as a search tool and list of contacts.

Talking to Your Wrist

You won’t find a virtual keyboard on the watch to enter text. Siri, Apple’s voice-activated intelligent assistant, can be summoned by raising the watch and saying, “Hey Siri,” or by pressing and holding the Digital Crown .

**⑤** Ask questions or request actions using Siri.
Ask questions or request actions using Siri.

You can request info, dictate messages, ask for directions, view or create calendar events, and do much of what Siri can do on the iPhone (since the watch is actually just relaying the stream of data via the iPhone to the Internet). And, yes, you can take phone calls; see Communicate by Phone.

Taptic Feedback

You don’t always need a button or a screen to interact with the Apple Watch. It includes the Taptic Engine, Apple’s name for a linear actuator that taps your wrist to provide feedback when something happens, such as receiving a notification.

Unlike the vibration that a muted iPhone makes, which can shake a table, the Taptic Engine is subtle. The feedback is contextual, too: for instance, when you’re led on a route in the Maps app, distinct taps indicate whether an upcoming turn is left or right.

The Taptic Engine combined with a speaker driver creates tactile feedback for actions such as force-touching the screen.

The Taptic Engine is also great for people who miss calls and messages because they don’t feel the iPhone’s vibration in their pockets, purses, and bags. A small tap and quick glance at the watch face identifies the caller.

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