Set up and use double tap gesture for Apple Watch series 9 and Ultra 2

Since watchOS 10.1, you can operate the Apple Watch series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 without touch. This is made possible by the new ‘Double tap’ gesture. This way you can easily view a notification, respond to incoming calls, control apps and more.

You can use the new gesture by tapping your index finger and thumb of the hand on which you are wearing your Watch together twice (pinch motion). watchOS registers this and will activate linked tasks that are relevant at that moment.

Powerful S9 chip

The new Apple Watch models are equipped with a new powerful S9 chip (CPU). This new chip ensures that operation is smoother and the graphics are improved. This improvement is not only the result of the new chip, but also partly due to watchOS 10.

The new S9 chip has a neural engine consisting of 4 cores. This ensures that machine learning tasks can be processed up to two times faster than the Apple Watch Series 8. The extra CPU capacity also gives Apple the opportunity to introduce a new gesture, the so-called ‘Tap double’ gesture.

The new ‘Double tap’ gesture

The new ‘Double tap’ gesture has been activated by default on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 since watchOS 10.1. This allows you to easily operate the smart watch with one hand, without touching the display. You do this by tapping your index finger and thumb of the hand on which you are wearing your Watch together twice (squeezing motion).

You can use this gesture to control the main button in an app, such as stopping a timer, playing and pausing music, or choosing the snooze function on your alarm clock. Answering or ending phone calls is also possible with the new gesture, which you can even use to take a photo with the camera remote control on your Apple Watch. You can also open the Smart Stack from the watch face with Double Tap.

The new ‘Tap Double’ gesture is made possible thanks to the faster Neural Engine in Apple Watch Series 9. It processes data from the accelerometer, gyroscope and optical heart sensor using a new machine learning algorithm.

The algorithm detects the characteristic small wrist movements and changes in your circulation when you make the ‘Tap double’ gesture with your index finger and thumb.

Confirmation with symbol

A blue hand symbol at the top of the Apple Watch screen indicates that control via the ‘Double tap’ gesture is available. The button you will operate with it is also highlighted on the screen so that everything is clear.

Double tap on an Apple Watch

If there is no action that can be performed using the double tap gesture, the hand symbol will move left and right. You will also feel a number of taps.

Examples Tap double gesture

  • Open the Smart Stack from the watch face and double-tap again to scroll through widgets.
  • Respond to notifications – Apple says that a double tap on an incoming notification will trigger the primary action, such as snoozing a reminder or replying to a message.
  • Answer phone or FaceTime calls.
  • Hang up phone or FaceTime calls.
  • When you get an iMessage, double tap to view it and double tap again to scroll.
  • Reply to a message with dictation, then send it with a double tap
  • Play and pause music, podcasts, or audiobooks (or skip a song, depending on settings).
  • Pause, resume and end a timer, stopwatch or alarm clock
  • Start or stop automatic workout reminders when a workout is detected.
  • Take a photo with the Camera app.
  • And much more

Double-tap Customize Apple Watch

You can make limited adjustments to how the gesture works. You do this via Settings ▸ Gestures ▸ Double tap. You can then enable or disable the option and adjust the behavior when playing music or displaying the smart stack.

For example, you can choose to pause/start or skip media playback. With the smart stack (widgets), you can choose ‘Continue’ to scroll through the stack or just before ‘Select’ to open the selected stack.

Double-tap Customize Apple Watch


The new “Double tap” gesture is only available on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 starting with watchOS 10.1. The other models can operate the Apple Watch with hand gestures, but require special accessibility options.

Practice for Vision Pro

The reason Apple added this gesture may also have to do with the  Vision Pro released earlier this year. This spatial computer (AR/VR glasses) from Apple also uses this gesture to select elements in the graphical interface.

Apple Watch users can already get used to this new way of operating, which will only benefit the acceptance of the  Vision Pro. From watchOS 10.4 you can temporarily disable the double-tap gesture when you use the Vision Pro.

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