How to use the Digital Crown and side button with watchOS 10 on Apple Watch

watchOS 10 on Apple Watch Ultra

Apple made fundamental changes to the way you navigate on your Apple Watch with watchOS 10. Here’s how to get the most out of your Apple Watch, from how the Side button works to what happens when you turn the Digital Crown.

Even though the Apple Watch has been around for eight years, Apple is still tinkering with how users interact with it. It removed Force Touch, changed how the Digital Crown worked, removed the “Time Travel” feature from the watch faces, and more with each iterative software update.

But each has improved the Apple Watch in one way or another. This time around, Apple has made radical changes by completely changing what the Side button and Digital Crown do when pressed or double-pressed.

After weeks of use, we’re still getting used to these changes, even though they’re a big step forward in functionality and will represent a net gain as users adjust.

View of the app

As before, a single press of the Digital Crown will take you to your available apps. Instead of a hexagonal grid that expands in every direction, you have a more limited grid that only goes down.

You scroll through the list using the Digital Crown or by swiping up on the display. All of Apple’s apps are at the top by default, with third-party apps at the bottom.

Rearrange apps

Rearrange apps

If you tap and hold an app icon, they’ll all go into editing mode, similar to iOS. You can tap and hold to rearrange apps, or tap the “x” in the corner to delete them.

For those who don’t like the new grid view, there is still a list view of all lyrics that you can activate in the settings.

How to use the app switcher in watchOS 10

By quickly pressing the Digital Crown twice, you can open the new app switcher. Similar to iOS, this will show all your current apps with the newest ones in front.

Scroll with a tap or by turning the Digital Crown. To go back to an app, tap it and it will move to the front.

This makes multitasking easier than ever.

The new app switcher

The new app switcher

When an app is working, you can swipe it left while in the app switcher to “force close” it. As we recommend on iOS, there is no need to routinely “force close” instances of the app on Apple Watch.

Exit apps in the app switcher

Exit apps in the app switcher

Apple removed the dock full of bookmarks with watchOS 10, so this will have to be its replacement.

How to invoke Siri in watchOS 10

Siri can be invoked by saying the name of the virtual assistant, without the need to add “hey” at the beginning. It will work on all your devices, including Apple Watch.

However, Apple has several ways to open Siri. You can raise your wrist and start speaking or hold the Digital Crown.

Siri feels fast with watchOS 10 as our requests are transcribed in near real time. You can also make multiple consecutive requests without having to call Siri up again.

watchOS 10 — Smart Stack

One of the more substantial changes made is a new feature called Smart Stack. It replaces Control Center from the watch face.

Smart stack

Smart stack

Swiping up from the bottom of the screen or turning the Digital Crown while the Smart Stack appears on the watch face. Show time, date, day of the week and widgets.

Apple has mirrored the Smart Stacks feature to iOS as the most relevant information will emerge when needed. For example, it was raining today, so when we opened the Smart Stack, the weather with rain stats was first and foremost.

When a calendar appointment approaches, our calendar will be the topmost widget. Other times we’ll see our fitness goals while lagging behind in the day’s totals.

Editing widgets

Editing widgets in the Smart Stack

Third party widgets are also supported. During the beta, we’ve only seen a few supported widgets so far, including Petey, the GPT chat client for watchOS. Up to eight widgets can be active.

Touch and hold to enter edit mode, where you can add more widgets or remove existing ones. Your favorite widgets can be pinned so they are always on top.

Apple also includes a launcher widget, where you can set three of your favorite apps to launch quickly. Ours is set to, for example, Workout, Messages, and Find My Friends. All it takes is a single swipe and tap to open any of them.

Finally, if you scroll all the way down, you will go to the app gallery. Alternatively, tap the “All apps” button at the bottom.

see OS 10 — Control Center

Apple has repositioned the Control Center gesture. Before, you just swiped up from the watch face to press the side button.

In watchOS 10, press the side button anywhere and the Control Center will open. It has the same switches as before and is editable from the bottom button.

Control Center is called by the side button

Control Center is called by the side button

This has replaced the old favorites dock which was invoked by pressing this button.

The side button still performs its old functions, like holding it down to shut down or double-pressing it to invoke Apple Pay.

When is watchOS 10 coming?

Apple is set to release watchOS 10 this fall alongside its other flagship operating systems; iOS 17, iPadOS 17, macOS Sonoma, and tvOS 17. It is currently in developer beta with a public beta coming in July.

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