Everything you can do with Force Touch on Apple Watch

ny times apple watch
Credit: Caitlin McGarry

Force Touch is a brand-new gesture, one that takes some getting used to. Apple doesn’t explain the extra-hard press anywhere on the Apple Watch, so it’s easy to miss features tucked behind that firm press—and there are many.

Force Touch adds a new dimension to the watch’s user interface, a necessary one given the device’s small screen. The Retina display’s electrodes can sense when you’re tapping the screen to select an option and when you’re forcefully pressing down to bring up a secondary menu.

Apple calls Force Touch the “most significant new sensing capability since Multi-Touch,” the touchscreen tech that transformed the way we interact with phones (and everything else). Apple Watch and the trackpads on the new 12-inch MacBook and revamped 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro have the new Force Touch gesture baked in, and Apple is reportedly planning to add it to the next generation of iPhones.

Pretty much all of Apple’s native watch apps use Force Touch to unlock new capabilities (nothing in Stocks though, sorry). Third-party apps also have access to the new gesture, which lets them add up to three new menu items, and they’re using it in a variety of interesting ways. Here’s everything you need to know about what Force Touch can do on Apple Watch:

force touch watch face

Change the watch face with a forceful press.

Notifications: Swipe down from the watch face to view your notifications, and use Force Touch to clear them all in one fell swoop.

Watch face: When you’re looking at your watch face, use Force Touch to view all of the face options and select a new one.

Workout: After you finish a workout in the Workout app, use Force Touch to end it. Then you can review your results and save the details for future reference.

Messages: Compose a new message with Force Touch in the Messages app, or if you’re already in a message, press hard to reply, view contact details, or share your location.

Activity: A deep press anywhere in the Activity app will let you change your Move goal, which is a calorie target that you aim to burn every day.

apple watch on wrist 1 Rob Schultz

Change your Move calorie burn goal with Force Touch in the Activity app.

Maps: Force Touch on a map will let you search for an address or share your location with a contact.

Music: Pick between listening to music stored locally on the watch or songs on your iPhone in the Music app. You can also select where to send the music: Bluetooth headphones, or a Bluetooth or AirPlay speaker. Force Touch also lets you jump into Now Playing to skip songs or adjust the volume of your current jam on the watch.

Alarm: Force Touch is the only way to add a new alarm within the Alarm watch app.

force touch hipchat

Hipchat lets you respond to messages in a variety of ways with Force Touch.

Calendar: A forceful press in the Calendar app lets you toggle between a view of your day and a look at your schedule for the week.

Third-party apps putting Force Touch to good use include:

Shazam hid a fun feature behind Force Touch which lets the app run in the background and create a playlist of every song you hear throughout the day. In Hipchat, Force Touch lets you switch between views of rooms, people, or both. Then when you dive into a chat, a forceful press lets you send a thumbs up/down or dictate a reply. The New York Times watch app offers news tidbits from the day’s biggest stories, but Force Touch an article to read it later on your iPhone. In Twitter’s watch app, use Force Touch to compose a tweet.

And those are just the apps we’ve discovered using Force Touch so far. Are any of your favorite watch apps using the new gesture? Let us know in the comments.

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