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The Apple Watch is your iPhone’s best friend. It lets you manage notifications, take calls, and even use some apps without touching your iPhone. The health and fitness features will help you stay in shape. But there’s a lot more to the Apple Watch than the Activity app, Notification Center, and watch faces.
Indeed, your Apple Watch is filled with features. And as a new user, you might not know about all of them. To get the most out of Apple Watch, check out our list of hidden Apple Watch features below.
If you have trouble getting started, make sure you review our Apple Watch troubleshooting tips.
1. Use Dock as an App Launcher
The Dock is the Apple Watch’s best-kept secret, and shows up when you press the Side button. However, the naming is confusing; the Dock’s default behavior is to show your most recent apps, similar to the iPhone’s App Switcher.
But in daily use, you might never actually use this feature. Thankfully, there’s a hidden setting in the Watch app that will turn the Dock into an incredibly useful app launcher.
Open the Watch app, select Dock, and switch from Recents to Favorites. Now add a couple of your most-used apps to the Favorites list below.
An average Apple Watch user typically shuffles between a couple of apps like Workouts, Music, Messages, and Podcasts. Now you can just press the Side button from anywhere, scroll through the list, and tap on the app preview to launch it.
2. Try Silent Mode
The beauty of wearing an Apple Watch is how it helps you detach from your iPhone. With it, you don’t need to pick up your iPhone every time you get a message or a call. Instead, you can just leave your phone on silent mode for long periods of time.
However, by default, the Apple Watch makes a sound every time you get a notification. This can get annoying fairly quickly, especially when the Watch’s Taptic engine is so good. But you can keep it quiet with a few taps.
From the watch face, swipe up to reveal the Control Center and tap the bell icon to turn on Silent Mode. Now, your Apple Watch will gently tap you on the wrist when you get a notification, and won’t light up the screen until you pick up your wrist.
3. Raise to Speak to Siri
If you’re using an Apple Watch Series 3 running watchOS 5 or above, there’s no need to press the Digital Crown to talk to Siri. Simply raise your wrist to bring the Apple Watch close to your face, and start speaking. Siri will instantly start transcribing and processing your command.
Funnily enough, this is the most reliable way to interact with Siri on the Apple Watch. It works much better than holding the Digital Crown.
4. Thoughtfully Manage Notifications
If you wear your Apple Watch all the time, you’ll have to spend some time culling the notifications that you get. If you don’t, wearing the Apple Watch will quickly become overwhelming.
watchOS 5 gives you an option to disable notifications from the Notification Center. Swipe left on a notification, tap the menu button, and select Turn off on Apple Watch. You can also choose the Deliver Quietly option to disable the sound and vibration feedback for the app notification.
The most efficient way to do this, however, is by using the Watch app on your phone. Go to Notifications and swipe down to Mirror iPhone Alerts from section. From here, disable the apps you don’t want to see notifications for on your wrist. Don’t forget to take control of your iOS notifications too.
5. Customize Your Favorite Workouts
When you start using the Workouts app regularly, you’ll end up wanting to customize the workouts screen. For example, you might want to add the current pace to the walking workout.
Open the Watch app, go to Workouts > Workout View, and select the workout. Tap on Edit to add, remove, and rearrange the metrics to suit your needs.
6. Manage Watch Faces
Three is the magic number for manageable watch faces. You should set up a trio of different watch faces for different times of day, moods, or occasions. Just swipe horizontally from one edge of the screen to another to flip through all available watch faces.
If you’ve got too many watch faces enabled, it’s time to delete or rearrange them. You can do this on the Watch itself, but it’s much easier to do it in the Watch app.
From the My Watch tab, tap on the Edit button next to My Faces section. To delete a watch face, tap the red button; use the handle button on the right to rearrange the faces. And to customize a watch face, tap on it from the My Faces section.
7. Scribble to Reply to Texts
When you get a notification on your Apple Watch, tap on it and select Reply to send a quick response. You’ll see a plethora of options here: tap on the mic button to dictate a reply, or you can choose an emoji or canned response.
But one of the features you might not know about is the scribble tool. Tap on the A icon with the hand and you’ll open a scribble pad. Draw letters here, and they’ll show up as text on top.
You can’t really type out long messages like this. But it’s great for typing one or two-word replies, something that isn’t available in the list of canned responses.
8. Use Theater Mode
The Apple Watch has a tendency to light up at the worst times. When you’re playing a game or sitting in the movie theater, you don’t want your Apple Watch to disturb you visually or audibly.
During these times, swipe up from the Control Center and tap on the Theater Mode button. This will keep your Watch from lighting up unless you tap the screen or press the Digital Crown. It also enables Silent Mode to suppress audio alerts.
9. Customize Control Center
There are quite a lot of controls in the Control Center. Thankfully, watchOS 5 lets you customize the layout so you can bring your most-used controls on the top.
Swipe to the bottom of the Control Center and tap the Edit button. After that, tap and hold the buttons to rearrange them.
10. Access Notifications and Control Center From Anywhere
One of the biggest frustrations of using an Apple Watch was that you could previously only access the Notification Center or Control Center from the watch face. But now, watchOS 5 lets you access notifications from anywhere on the screen.
Tap and hold for a split second on either the top or bottom edge of the screen till you see an overview, then pull. You can now access notifications no matter which app you’re in.
11. Sync Music to Your Apple Watch
If you take your Apple Watch with you on runs or walks, you might want to leave your iPhone behind, especially if you’ve got the cellular Apple Watch.
As an Apple Music subscriber, you can stream music from your Apple Watch over a cellular connection anytime you want. But this is often unreliable and a huge drain on the battery.
Instead, you can sync your favorite albums or running playlists to your Apple Watch for offline use. Open the Watch app, select Music, and tap Add more. Select a playlist or album, and wait while it syncs to your Apple Watch. Next time you open the Music app, you’ll see the newly synced album or playlist in the list.
12. Transfer a Call to iPhone
Answering quick calls on the Apple Watch is quite handy. But sometimes quick calls turn into long conversations, and you might want to switch to your iPhone for better clarity.
Switching calls between your Apple Watch and iPhone is quite seamless (if you have the Handoff feature enabled). When you’ve got a call going on the Apple Watch, pick up your phone and tap on the green icon on the top. This will automatically launch the phone app and switch the call to the iPhone.
Next Up: Get Healthy With Your Apple Watch
Hopefully these hidden features help you make the most of your new Apple Watch. You’ll be amazed at how much it can do!
As you might know, health and fitness are the two best features of Apple Watch. But the default Workouts app can only get you so far. This is where third-party Apple Watch fitness apps are essential. You can do everything from workout tracking, yoga practice, and marathon training, to calorie counting, all from your wrist! (While you’re enjoying the benefits of owning an Apple Watch, don’t forget to protect your data with these Apple Watch security tips.)
If you ever need a cheaper or a temporary replacement for your Apple Watch, try these alternative sports trackers: