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12 Hidden Apple Watch Features New Users Must Try

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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 and the notifications will keep you on top of your messages. 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 your Apple Watch, check out our list of hidden Apple Watch features below.


1. Use the Dock as an App Launcher

Apple Watch Dock Favorite Apps

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.

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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

Apple Watch 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

Apple Watch Turn off 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.

Luckily, the Apple Watch 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.

To do this, just 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 Your 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 the 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 Apple 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. Reply to Texts Directly on Your Apple Watch

Apple Watch Scribble Reply

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 pre-written 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 up top. If you own a Series 7 Apple Watch, you can also use a QWERTY keyboard on your watch to reply to messages.


You can’t really type out long messages using either method, though, as it becomes too cumbersome to do so. But it’s great for typing one- or two-word replies, something that isn’t available in the list of pre-set responses.

8. Use Theater Mode

Apple Watch Cinema 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, though you can still feel your wrist tap so you’ll know if there’s anything waiting for you.

9. Enable All the Health Features

One of the primary reasons people buy the Apple Watch is to enhance their physical fitness. While this can be done primarily by using the Fitness and Workouts feature, it’s also important to enable different health features on your Apple Watch. This allows you to fully explore its potential.

There are many features available on your Watch, including ECG, Blood Oxygen monitoring, Fall Detection, Sleep Tracking, and more. You can explore all of these from their relative categories in the Watch app on your iPhone. You’ll find them under Health, Heart, Mindfulness, Sleep, and more in the app.

10. Unlock Your iPhone While Wearing a Mask

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple released a feature that allows you to use your Apple Watch to unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask. While it may sound small, it’s incredibly useful, and we’d recommend you use the feature. You will need to have a passcode set up on your Apple Watch to use it.

To enable this, go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode on your iPhone, and enable Unlock with Apple Watch. If the option is grayed out, you may not have updated to iOS 14.5 or watchOS 7.5 or later.

Related: Ways to Free Up Storage Space on Your Apple Watch

Your watch will pair with your iPhone, and the feature will be set up. Now, use the process to unlock your iPhone as you normally would. Turn on your iPhone and look at it for your iPhone to unlock instantly (even when you’re wearing a mask). You will then feel a vibration on your wrist along with an alert on your Apple Watch indicating that your phone is now unlocked.

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 whenever 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 on your iPhone, 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 on your watch, you’ll see the newly synced album or playlist in the list.

12. Enable Apple Pay on Your Apple Watch

Considering the Apple Watch can be used as a standalone device, you may want to consider activating Apple Pay on it. Doing this will allow you to use your watch for contactless payments without having to take your iPhone out or grab your wallet.

To enable contactless payments on your Apple Watch, open up the Watch app on your iPhone, and select Wallet & Apple Pay from My Watch. Add the card you want to from the available list (you can only add cards that are already added on your iPhone), which will then automatically show up on your Watch.

Related: Is Apple Pay Safe?

Now, whenever you want to do a payment, simply double-press the Side button on your Watch and hold it up to the contactless terminal, which should accept the payment.

Get Healthy With Your Apple Watch

Hopefully, these hidden features help you make the most of your Apple Watch. You’ll be amazed at how much it can do! Integrating all of its features with your daily workout and fitness routine can really make a difference.


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