Control Center on your Apple Watch can now be invoked from any screen or app, thanks to the watchOS 5 software

watchOS 5 brings a subtle yet hugely satisfying usability improvement: now you can launch Control Center or access your Notification Center from inside any app on your Apple Watch.

What did we do to deserve this?

That’s right, no longer are you required to invoke these panels strictly from your watch face. I’ve always hated that counterintuitive implementation, it’s like some weird remnant of the early days when watchOS felt much like a beta product.

Currently, if I’m chatting in the Messages app and want to see the notifications, I must press the Digital Crown to get back to my watch face, then swipe down to see my notifications. And when I’m finished reading them, I must navigate back to the app I was using earlier.

watchOS 5 makes invoking these panels from within apps behave like in iOS.

Using Control or Notification Center in apps

in watchOS 5, swiping up or down from my watch face lets me see my Control Center toggles or alerts, just like before. However, I no longer need to get to the watch face just to access Control or Notification Center.

Instead, tap and hold the top or bottom display edge while inside an app until a peek of the Control or Notification panel appears, then drag the panel into full view.

TUTORIAL: How to access Notification and Control Center on Apple Watch from inside apps

It’s great that you can still access these panels from the watch face as that keeps watchOS 5 compatible with previous behavior. What you cannot do, however, is access Control or Notification Center while on the Home screen or using the Dock on your watch.

As always, Apple’s attention to detail is readily apparent…

Opening Control Center in watchOS 5 while using iDownloadBlog's Apple Watch app

Opening Control Center in watchOS 5 while using iDownloadBlog’s Apple Watch app

For instance, swipe too fast and the panel bounces back with Apple’s famous rubber-band effect. The various toggles animate with physics as the panels move and the subtle translucency effect against the heavily blurred background gives you a sense of depth.

I’m all for these delightful little touches, but the most important thing is that Apple is continuing to address some of the most glaring usability omissions in the watchOS software.

It’s a wrap-up time!

Summing up, the two new gestures work from any watchOS screen—with the exception of the Dock and the Home screen—and from inside apps, be it Apple’s own apps that came preloaded on your Apple Watch or your favorite third-party apps, like 1Password or HeartWatch.

Also new in watchOS 5, you can now rearrange the Control Center toggles to your liking and join nearby Wi-Fi networks directly on your Apple Watch, even password-protected ones that you haven’t connect to through your paired iPhone before.