How to make Apple Watch app icons bigger and easier to tap

By , May 10, 2015

Apple Watch Screenshot

We’re still working our way through all of the Apple Watch settings for our complete Apple Watch Guide, but here’s something that Reddit user ineedlesssleep stumbled upon that I found particularly useful.

By turning on the Reduce Motion option in the Apple Watch preferences, you can make all of the app icons on your Apple Watch Home screen the same size. This means that all of the app icons will be big just like the app icons in the middle of the interface, and thus will be just as easy to tap.

I find that this option makes the Home Screen on Apple Watch simpler, as everything is larger and more consistent across the board. Watch our video demonstration inside to see what I mean.

How to enable Reduce Motion on Apple Watch

Step 1: Open the Settings app

Step 2: Tap General

Step 3: Tap Accessibility

Reduce Motion Apple Watch Settings

Step 4: Tap Reduce Motion

Step 5: Enable the Reduce Motion switch

As you might expect, you can also enable Reduce Motion from the Apple Watch companion app on your paired iPhone. Here’s how to do so:

Step 1: Open the Apple Watch companion app on your iPhone

Step 2: Tap the My Watch tab

Step 3: Tap General

Step 4: Tap Accessibility

iPhone Apple Watch Reduce Motion

Step 5: Tap Reduce Motion

Step 6: Enable the Reduce Motion switch

Once you go back to the Home screen, you’ll notice larger icons across the entire Home screen interface. On my 42mm Apple Watch, the icons look particularly large and in charge.

So what exactly does Reduce Motion aim to accomplish? Here’s the official word from Apple:

Reduce Motion Limits animation and automatic resizing of the Apple Watch user interface on the Home screen and when launching and exiting apps.

As you can see, the Reduce Motion feature on the Apple Watch is somewhat different from the iPhone version of Reduce Motion. Since the Apple Watch Home screen features different sized app icons based on their location on screen, this had to be incorporated into the Reduce Motion setting as well. Like the iPhone, though, Reduce Motion also eliminates the motion-based animation that occurs when launching or closing apps. Instead of the complex animation, users are treated to a simplistic fade in and fade out animation instead.

The downside

Of course, there are tradeoffs to enabling the Reduce Motion option, and you’ll need to consider these tradeoffs before fully committing to the setting.

First and foremost, you lose the slick animations that happen when launching and closing apps. You might not think that’s a big deal, and I’d tend to agree with you, but you’re still missing out on some of the animation that Apple designers felt were important enough to include by default.

Perhaps more importantly, though, enabling Reduce Motion means potentially less app icons on screen at once. Since all icons are the same size with Reduce Motion enabled, there’s less room to fit icons that would have normally fit on screen due to their small size on the outskirts of the interface.

Compare this image below:

Apple Watch Reduce Motion Compare

I’ve superimposed a Home screen with Reduce Motion disabled with a screenshot with Reduce Motion enabled. You can clearly see some app icons that don’t appear on the screen with Reduce Motion on, but do appear with it off. Notice the lack of the Slack, Yelp, Drafts, ESPN app, and others. Since you can easily launch those apps with small app icons using a normal tap—as seen in our video above—there is a difference here that must be considered.

After mulling over it for a while, I think I’m going to keep the Reduce Motion feature enabled on my Apple Watch. The larger tap targets are just too good to pass up, even if it means more potential scrolling on the Home screen to find the apps I need. What about you?

  • Share:
  • Follow:

  • L J

    does this save battery on the apple watch just like on the iphone?

  • Cole Mahoney

    Why do my contact pictures keep zooming in automatically after I set it

    • socrates

      THAT HAPPENS TO YOU TOO???

      If you find a solution, I’d love to know.

  • socrates

    For settings such as this, where one switch controls more than one aspect of the UI, Apple really lacks customization.

    There should be one parent switch that enables child switches to be toggled individually.

    • Apple doesn’t want you to customize at all. Those settings are for users with motion sickness, that’s why it is listed under accessibility.

      • socrates

        Obviously they don’t. And I understand the accessibility setting is for those with motion sickness, but my point was that Apple should consider different perspectives.

        They don’t want people jailbreaking, yet they offer little to no detail customization on the users’ end. I see no logic there.

      • Mr_Coldharbour

        I concur. I’d like to be able to customise certain accessibility details a bit further than I already can. They’re not bad, but they can be much better.

      • Jailbreak is the ultimate form of customization. I believe they ban jailbreak so users cannot customize. They are very protective of their software platform.

      • socrates

        Agreed.

  • coolbean5

    what smart light bulb app is that? the one above the starbucks app. I thought phillips hue was the only one with a apple watch app.

  • Alberto Espinal

    I have about 10 watches and i was a bit skeptical about getting one but damn it everytime i see one i think about getting one!!

    • Rowan09

      I was going to cancel my order but it was shipped and delivered in a day to me. It’s a cool watch and looks better than I thought it would. I use it for training so it does what I need it to and more. Im very interested in seeing what the future holds for this product.

      • pnh

        Which one did you order that shipped in a day???????

      • Rowan09

        The Space Gray Sport. It didn’t come from China it came from Tennessee.

      • pnh

        42?

      • Rowan09

        Yes