Taptic Engine in Apple Watch

The Taptic Engine, Apple’s vibratory motor inside every Apple Watch, gives you new ways to mark time in watchOS 6 by optionally tapping out the time on your wrist  — they’re calling this Taptic Time. You can even set a chime to ring in the new hour or have Siri tell you the time out loud. Follow along with iDB as we show you how to use Taptic Time on your Apple Watch.

With Taptic Time, you can tell time in silent mode without looking at the watch.

That’s awesome not just for the visually impaired but also productive power users because you can keep track of the time while multitasking without glancing at your wrist.

It makes your Apple Watch a more flexible timekeeper — a haptic version of time will tap out the hour on your wrist — and can be customized to use Morse code or distinguish hours and minutes with various tap lengths. You can even have Siri announce the current time out loud by holding two fingers on the watch face, a handy capability which used to be limited to the Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse watch faces in older watchOS editions.

Taptic Time for Apple Watch in watchOS 6

Taptic Time, along with other new features in watchOS 6, was briefly mentioned by Kevin Lynch, Apple’s Vice President of Technology, during the June 3 keynote address at the Worldwide Developers Conference held June 3-7 in San Jose, California.

Before watchOS 6 came along, Taptic Time was relegated to an accessibility feature that could only be used with the built-in VoiceOver screen reader: you would double-tap the display with one finger to feel the hours and minutes or triple-tap to feel minutes only.

Follow along with us as we show you how to use Taptic Time on Apple Watch in watchOS 6.

How to enable Taptic Time on Apple Watch

To turn on and use Taptic Time in watchOS 6, do the following:

1) Open Settings on your Apple Watch with watchOS 6+.

2) Tap Sounds & Haptics.

3) Tap Taptic Time.

4) Slide the toggle next to Taptic Time to the ON position.

“When Apple Watch is in Silent Mode,” reads the feature’s description, “tap and hold two fingers on the watch face to feel a haptic version of the time”.

5) Choose your preferred taptic style to use for Taptic Time.

  • Digits: This is the default choice. Your Apple Watch will long-tap for every ten hours and short-tap for each following hour. Then it will long-tap for every ten minutes and short-tap for each following minute.
  • Terse: The watch will long-tap for every five hours, then short-tap for the remaining hours. Then it will long-tap for each quarter hour.
  • Morse code: When this is on, the watch will tap each digit of the time in Morse code.

6) Go to the previous screen and exit Settings to save the changes.

Congratulations, now you can feel the time on your wrist in silent mode, without you having to hear anything. This could be especially helpful when at work or in public — you keep track of the time without glancing at the watch or, worse, disturbing others with audible chimes.

Say hello to Taptic Chimes

Aside from Taptic Time, there’s also a new Taptic Time feature in watchOS 6 Settings.

Taptic Chimes for Apple Watch in watchOS 6

As detailed in our dedicated Taptic Chimes tutorial, that optional feature will prompt the watch to discreetly tap a short pattern on your wrist on the hour or the half hour. And if sound is enabled, you will hear an audible chime, too, in form of the sound of a robin chirping.

The difference between Taptic Chimes and Taptic Time is two-fold.

Firstly, you don’t get to choose between distinct haptic feedback patterns with Taptic Chimes like you do with Taptic Time. And secondly, Taptic Chimes are hard-coded to go off on the hour or the half hour, depending on your liking, whereas Taptic Time relies on an entirely different schedule to buzz your wrist with a series of distinct taps).

Speak Time, no matter the watch face

Siri in watchOS 6 can speak time regardless of your currently selected watch face.

This is why Apple has removed the previous Tap to Speak Time toggle for the Mickey and Minnie faces from the Sounds & Haptics section of the Settings app on watchOS 6, replacing it with a new Speak Time setting. Off by default, this feature can be enabled with a few taps.

Venture into Settings → Sounds & Haptics, enable Speak Time and customize it:

  • Control With Silent Mode: If your Apple Watch is in silent mode, Siri won’t tell you what time it is when tapping and holding the display with two fingers.
  • Always Speak: Siri will always announce the current time when you hold two fingers pressed against your watch face, even in the watch is in silent mode.

Taptic Time is unavailable when Speak Time has been configured to always speak.

watchOS 6 compatibility

Like watchOS 5, the watchOS 6 update is compatible with all Apple Watch models with the sole exception of the original model (Series 0). watchOS 6 runs fine on Series 1, Series 2, Series 3 and Series 4 watches but some features may require newer hardware.

To learn more, read Apple’s press release or visit apple.com/watchos/watchos-preview.

Need help? Ask iDB!

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