5 Apple Watch Tips and Tricks You Probably Didn’t Know About

By Paul Riegler on 26 December 2018
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The newest Apple Watch has a surprising number of features in what is a tiny package, so many that one can use the device for months and barely scratch the surface of its capabilities.

First released in April 2015, the Apple Watch was updated multiple times without changing its form factor until the fifth generation Series 4 device, which was released in September 2018 with a 30% larger display and additional features unique to the new model.

Here are five tips and tricks you probably didn’t know about your Apple Watch that greatly improve the user experience.

1.) You can set Do Not Disturb to turn off when leaving your current location

The Do Not Disturb feature stops the watch from vibrating, illuminating the display, and making sounds (Pro Tip: don’t have sounds on on your watch to begin with) and was recently enhanced with WatchOS 5 to turn itself off when you leave your current location. To set, swipe from the bottom to bring up the Control Center, click on the moon crescent, and select from options that include “On for 1 hour” and [“On until I leave (current location)”].

Theater Mode, introduced with WatchOS 3.2, turns off the raise to wake feature and mutes the device.  It won’t yet turn itself off when you leave the theater the way Do Not Disturb does but hopefully Apple will add that feature in a future release.  It’s turned on from the Control Center by selecting the drama mask icon.

As is always the case, slowly turning the digital crown will wake up the screen as you turn it, starting with a very dimmed state.

2.) You can monitor your heart and perform an EKG to check for AFib

Available only on the Apple Watch Series 4 and introduced with WatchOS 5.1.2, the watch can perform an electrocardiogram in 30 seconds. The feature can be used to identify atrial fibrillation, a common type of irregular heart rhythm also known as AFib, which may be an indication of stroke risk, and can monitor on an ongoing basis for irregular rhythms.

To take an EKG, simply start the app on the watch and place a finger on the digital crown, making sure that the watch stays firmly in place.  After 30 seconds, the watch will display results.

The watch also monitors your heart throughout the day and can also notify you if your heart rate remains over a specified threshold when you’ve been inactive for ten minutes.  It will also alert you if your heart rate gets too low. Turn this feature on and set the parameters via the Watch app on the phone by going to the watch app on the iPhone and selecting parameters  for both High Heart Rate and Low Heart Rate under the Heart option.

3.) You can unlock your MacBook

Starting with Macs and MacBooks from mid-2013 that are running macOS Sierra or later, your own proximity to your Mac will allow the Apple Watch to unlock it.

Add this feature by going to System Preferences on your Mac.  Click General/ Allow Your Apple Watch to Unlock Your Mac and you’re all set, provided you are wearing your watch and both devices are signed into the same Apple ID.

4.) You can use your watch as a remote shutter release for your iPhone

While even the latest Apple Watch can’t take photos on its own, it can act as a shutter release for your iPhone’s camera. Simply set up the photo and leave the iPhone in a secure position, then open the camera app on the watch. Doing that will activate the camera and allow you to preview what the camera sees, as long as you within 33’ (ten meters) of the phone.

The app even features a timer for the shutter release, allowing you to set up the photo and put your arm down before the photo is taken.

5.) You can control your TV

Your Apple Watch is a convenient remote control for the Apple TV. It supports the same functions as the remote app on the iPhone, including play and pause, and it allows you to scroll through the Apple TV menu.

The one-time setup is simple: go to Settings on the Apple TV and select General / Remotes and Devices.  Then open the Remote app on the watch and choose Add Device. You will be prompted by the watch to enter a code that appears on the television screen.  Upon entering that code, the two devices will be paired.


Finally, although these are basic, remember you can use the Apple Watch to locate your (temporarily) misplaced iPhone, change the watch face, and change the layout of your apps on the watch from the default honeycomb layout to a simple list by pressing the Digital Crown once to bring up the app view, using Force Touch on the center of the display, and selecting List View.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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