Additional gestures to use your Apple Watch hands-free are coming with watchOS 9

New Apple Watch gestures are coming this fall with the watchOS 9 software update, making it even easier to use your wearable device hands-free.

Two Apple Watch device screenshots showcasing the new AssistiveTouch gestures coming with watchOS 9, including pinching twice to start, pause or resume a workout in the Workout app or a breathe session in the Mindfulness app
Image credit: Apple
  • The Apple Watch will gain additional gesture control with the watchOS 9 update this fall, following the addition of AssistiveTouch as a new accessibility feature in the watchOS 8 software back in 2021.
  • Apple’s previewed some additional gestures coming to the watch, including pinching to move forward and pinching twice to move backward.
  • Apple Watch gestures use data from the watch’s accelerometer, gyroscope and optical heart rate sensors, with Apple’s on-device machine learning using this data to determine how your muscles and tendons move.

New Apple Watch gestures are coming with watchOS 9

The new hand gestures coming with watchOS 9 for hands-free Apple Watch control include the ability to pinch twice to perform several time-sensitive actions without having to touch the watch display. For instance, a double-pinch gesture can be used to answer or end a phone call, dismiss a notification, take a photo, start/pause playback in the Now Playing app, as well as start, pause or resume a workout. Read: How to tell whether your Apple Watch is online or offline

In watchOS 8, you can pinch once to move forward and pinch twice to move backward, that’s it. There’s no doubt in our mind that the additional gestures coming with watchOS 9 will increase the usefulness of AssistiveTouch on the Apple Watch.

Folks with upper body limb differences will appreciate being able to use their watch without ever having to touch the display or controls. Apple has previewed the additional new Apple Watch gestures alongside other new assistive features coming to the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch in an Apple Newsroom post.

AssistiveTouch on your wrist

Apple also unveiled other initiatives ahead of the Global Accessibility Awareness Day to support users with limited mobility, including controlling an Apple Watch entirely from its connected iPhone and the ability for your iPhone to transcribe any audio, including FaceTime calls, with a new Live Captions feature. Apple hasn’t said when precisely these features will be available beyond “later this year”. Since there will be no major software updates during the summer, we’re expecting new Apple Watch gesture control and other assistive improvements to arrive with the watchOS 9 update in sometime the fall. Read: 30+ things to do after buying an Apple Watch

AssistiveTouch has existed on iOS for years, but the Apple Watch only recently got it with the watchOS 8 software released in 2021. On watchOS 8, the feature is capable of recognizing a few gestures, such as pinching your fingers or clenching your fists, to perform actions like answering incoming calls, opening the Notification Center, accessing the Control Center and more. AssistiveTouch can even be configured to drive an on-screen cursor which responds to your arm movement.