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WatchOS 10.1 unlocks the best new Apple Watch feature in years

It’s ‘point one’ day for Apple fans and while iOS 17.1 has brought some awesome new iPhone features, WatchOS 10.1 is arguably a bigger update for Apple Watch users.

The update, which can be downloaded from today, includes Double Tap – the new gesture-based feature which can carry out a range of tasks just by tapping the thumb and forefinger together.

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Revealed at Apple’s September launch event alongside the Apple Watch 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, the feature is ideal for use when the non-wearing hand cannot be used on the touchscreen. So, for example, when you’re out walking the dog.

The feature can be used to snooze or turn off an alarm in the morning, view a message from a notification, take a photo on the iPhone when the camera remote is enabled, control timers and stopwatches, pause or unpause audio (the demo last month also suggested this could be done for an Apple TV show), or pick-up or hang-up a phone call. It’ll also open the Smart Stack from any watch face.

The Double Tap gesture will switch to the new elevation view within the Compass app, start or stop automatic workout reminders and perform the primary action from all notifications. Users can also customise the gesture in various ways. So, for example, you can configure it to skip to the next track rather than pause the music playback.

The feature is specific to the new, 2023 Apple Watch models so those with older devices miss out this time. That’s because the feature is enabled by the new S9 SiP processor, within the Series 9 and Ultra 2

“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,” Apple explained 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.”

Elsewhere in WatchOS 10.1 is the NameDrop feature, which enables users to exchange contact details over AirDrop. There are also some bug fixes too. The update can be dowloaded by opening the Apple Watch app on a companion iPhone and heading to General > Software Update.

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