From readability to fast-muting, remote photo-taking to finding your phone, these are the super simple Apple Watch hacks that will change the way you use your smart watch – and subsequently, how to make every life just that little bit easier (and more productive). 

Were you lucky enough to be gifted an Apple Watch for Christmas? If you are, you’re not alone. During 2021 Australians have doubled down on the wearable tech trend, with more of us than ever before choosing to strap a smart watch to our wrist.

A recent Deloitte Digital Consumer Trends Survey found that “Wearable devices such as smart watches and fitness bands have continued to see a rise in ownership. Twenty three percent of respondents now have access to a smart watch, up from 17% in 2020 and 12% in 2019.” Australians are on par with the most smartwatch-strapped countries, including the the UK (23%) and Italy (25%). The wearables market is predicted to grow even further, with 14.5% more Australians set to buy in between now and 2026.

While the latest Apple Watch Series 7 is bigger and shinier than ever, how do you ensure you’re squeezing every last productive drop out of the incredible piece of technology that now sits on your wrist? It may feel confusing at first… I should know because it took me a minute (AKA a few months) to figure out how to use mine properly. But if you’re willing to spend a solid 15 minutes adjusting your settings and navigating the App Store, I promise it’ll be time well spent in terms of added productivity but also the utter joy that a thoroughly personalised and fully connected smart watch can bring.

Once you’ve done the basics (ie set up your movement rings, signed up to Apple Fitness+ and tried out the awesome Breathe feature), there are a bunch of other non-fitness related features and functions that will become life savers (in one case, quite literally).

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1. Find your iPhone

When you need help finding your iPhone, swipe up from the bottom of the display to open Control Centre and look for the ping iPhone button. A single tap makes your iPhone ping, and if you touch and hold your iPhone pings and flashes to help you look for it in the dark.

2. Use your Apple Watch to take a photo on your iPhone

Take a photo at a distance using the Camera Remote app on Apple Watch. First, open the Camera Remote app on your watch and position your iPhone. Use your Apple Watch as the viewfinder to frame your shot. Then tap the timer to give everyone a chance to get ready.

3. Water lock it!

Water lock turns on automatically when you begin a water-based workout, such as swimming or surfing. But you can also turn it on manually if you want to disable the touch screen on your Apple Watch for certain activities, such as boxing where gloves might interfere with the display. To turn it on, swipe up from the bottom of the display to open Control Centre and tap the water droplet button. To turn it off, turn the Digital Crown on the side of your Apple Watch until the display says Unlocked.

4. Set multiple timers for multi-tasking

Use your Apple Watch to set multiple timers to keep track of what you’re doing. You can do this manually by opening the Timers app and setting multiple custom timers. Or ask Siri, by holding down the Digital Crown. You can ask Siri things like, “start a 40-minute timer for sourdough” or “start a 10-minute timer for hair treatment.”

5. Identify that catchy new song

If you hear a song and want to know what it is, just press and the hold the Digital Crown and ask Siri. “What song is this?”

6. Make your watch face speak to you

You can personalise your Apple Watch by choosing your favourite watch faces in the Watch app on your iPhone. Select the Face Gallery tab and browse through the hundreds of watch face options. You can further customise your watch face by changing complications. First touch and hold the display, then tap Edit. Next swipe left all the way to the end, tap a complication to change it. Turn the Digital Crown to browse the options and tap to choose one. Press the Digital Crown to save it. To change your Watch face, simply swipe left from one edge to other on your Apple Watch display.

7. Personalise your home screen

To view apps in a list or rearrange or delete apps. Push the Digital Crown, then touch and hold anywhere on the Home Screen. Then, if you want to see your apps displayed in a list rather than a grid, tap List View. To rearrange or delete apps, tap Edit Apps. Tap the X to delete an app or drag the app to a new position to rearrange your Home Screen. Then press the Digital Crown when you’re done.

8. Mute with one simple move

To quickly silence an alert like an incoming phone call or a timer, just rest your palm of your hand on the watch display.

9. Increase text size

You can adjust text size and other settings to make it easier to interact with items on the screen. Open the Watch app on your iPhone, tap Display & Brightness, then use the slider to increase the text size or display brightness.

11. Unlock your phone (san face)

If you’re wearing a face mask covering your mouth and nose, you can use your Apple Watch to unlock your iPhone. This feature works with Apple Watch Series 3 and later. Before you start make sure you have up-to-date software on your iPhone and Apple Watch. Open the Settings app on your iPhone. Tap Face ID & Passcode, then type your passcode. Scroll down to Unlock with Apple Watch, then turn on the feature next to your watch’s name.

12. Keep an eye on your heart health

You can enable notifications on your Apple Watch to alert you to high or low heart rates and irregular heart rhythms. To turn heart health notifications on, go to the Watch app on your iPhone, tap Heart and then choose a BPM. Your Apple Watch will notify you if it detects a heart rate that rises above or falls below the BPM thresholds you set. It will only do this during periods of inactivity. If you have Apple Watch Series 3 and later, you can also receive a notification if your Apple Watch identifies multiple heart rhythms that may be atrial fibrillation.

12. Turn on fall detection

Since its launch in 2018, fall detection on Apple Watch has proven to be a valuable safety tool (literally saving this guy’s life) by recognising if a user is immobile for approximately one minute if a hard fall is detected, and initiating a call to emergency services right from the wrist. To turn it on, open the Watch app on your iPhone, tap Emergency SOS and turn on Fall Detection. You can choose whether to have it on all the time or during workouts, such as cycling.

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