You'll Soon Be Able to Control an Apple Watch Using Hand Gestures

Apple today previewed a long list of new accessibility features coming soon, including AssistiveTouch for the Apple Watch, which will allow users to control an Apple Watch without ever having to touch the display or controls.


Aided by on-device machine learning, the Apple Watch's gyroscope, accelerometer, and heart rate sensor will be able to detect subtle differences in muscle movement and tendon activity, and these movements will allow users to navigate a cursor on the Apple Watch's display through a series of hand gestures, like a pinch or a clench.

AssistiveTouch on the Apple Watch will enable customers who have limb differences to more easily answer incoming calls, control an on-screen motion pointer, access Notification Center and Control Center, and more.

Apple says AssistiveTouch for the Apple Watch will be available with a software update. The feature will likely be part of watchOS 8, which is expected to be unveiled alongside iOS 15, macOS 12, and tvOS 15 at WWDC 2021 next month.

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Top Rated Comments

macduke Avatar
41 months ago
This is great news. I have a friend who is missing everything past his elbow on one side. He's quite capable, able to go rock climbing, mountain biking, etc. But something like an Apple Watch can be difficult to control. I'm sure he will be excited about this! I love Apple's stance on accessibility and using technology to improve people's lives. It puts most other companies to shame.

Here is Tim Cook's response to a shareholder saying they should focus only on the ROI and not other things like accessibility or the environment:


"When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don't consider the bloody ROI. If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock."

―Tim Cook
I gained a lot of respect for Mr. Tim Apple that day.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jezbd1997 Avatar
41 months ago
Okay this is definitely one of the coolest things I've ever seen
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
alexandr Avatar
41 months ago
getting more and more useful. freakin' apple!
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ArPe Avatar
41 months ago
Good thing I wear watch on left wrist and pee with right hand. Don’t want to accidentally answer calls like that when I am busy.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DrunkSkunk Avatar
41 months ago
I cant wait for this. Being disabled with only having one arm it has put a hamper on me getting an Apple Watch. When this comes out I will be finally able to get one and use it. So excited!
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FrizzleFryBen Avatar
41 months ago
This is an incredible enhancement! I was literally JUST playing with "Pointer Control" in Accessibility settings on my MBA for the first time. I was only using it to control a powerpoint, but what amazing accessibility functionality that Apple (fairly quietly) offers. I don't have any physical limitations that would be assisted with these advancements, but I think it's wonderful and impressive that Apple pays attention and actively adds these features.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)