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6 cool Apple Watch features you probably didn’t know existed

Published Apr 21st, 2021 3:43PM EDT
Apple Watch Features
Image: Apple

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Late last week marked the sixth anniversary of the original Apple Watch release date. Apple’s somewhat iconic wearable, if you recall, was initially unveiled at a special event in September of 2014 and was accompanied by an immense amount of hype and intrigue. Rightly or wrongly, many people at the time were anticipating a product that would be as revolutionary as the iPhone and iPod that came before it.

In reality, the original Apple Watch wasn’t exactly the instant game-changer people were expecting. On the contrary, the initial incarnation, while intriguing, had some glaring flaws with respect to battery life, the user interface, and more. But as Apple is prone to do, the Apple Watch improved drastically with each successive iteration and gained dozens of new features in the process. All the while, Apple Watch sales quickly began to accelerate. And though Apple doesn’t break down revenue on a product by product basis, Apple’s line of wearables last quarter generated an astounding $12.97 billion in revenue.

About six years after its initial release, it’s fair to say that the Apple Watch at this point is a mature product. That notwithstanding, there’s a good chance that Apple’s wearable boasts a number of features that even seasoned Apple Watch users may not be aware of. Especially for users who primarily use their Apple Watch for texting or health purposes, there’s a whole lot more functionality lurking beneath the surface.

With that said, we thought we’d highlight a few Apple Watch features you may not have even known existed:

Use your Apple Watch as a viewfinder 

One particularly cool Apple Watch feature is that you can use it as a viewfinder for your iPhone. To do so, simply open up the Camera app on your iPhone followed by the Camera Remote app on your Apple Watch. From there, you can use your Apple Watch to set a timer, switch the camera orientation, and more.

Use your Apple Watch as an Apple TV remote

The Apple TV remote has historically been horrid. Thankfully, Apple at its special media event this week unveiled a brand new remote design that seemingly addresses many of the complaints users have levied against the existing Apple TV remote.

If you’re not a fan of the current Apple TV remote, or even if you happened to misplace it, you can actually use your Apple Watch as a remote for your Apple TV. All you have to do is open up the Remote app on the Apple Watch, select your Apple TV, and hit “Add Device.” From there, go to the Settings section on your Apple TV and go to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Remote App and Devices and select Apple Watch. Following that, you’ll be prompted for a passcode and, when the pairing is complete, you’re new wrist-worn remote is ready to go.

Unlock your Mac with an Apple Watch

If you want to unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch, the setup is pretty simple. First, make sure Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on your Mac are both turned on. You’ll also want to make sure that both your Apple Watch and Mac are signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID. You’ll also need to make sure your Apple Watch is using a passcode.

With those requirements out of the way, open up System Preferences on your Mac and select Security & Privacy. Next, toggle on the setting that says “Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac.”

Enable Fall Detection

Fall Detection was introduced on the Apple Watch Series 4 and — as the name suggests — can detect when someone takes a serious fall and, if necessary, will call 911 on their behalf. Fall Detection is only turned on by default if you’re 65-years and above but can be manually enabled by going to the Watch app on your iPhone, selecting My Watch > Emergency SOS and then toggling on Fall Detection.

Share Watch Faces with friends

To share a watch face (and even complications) you like with a friend, touch and hold the display and then tap the Share button that appears. Next, you can input a contact address and a corresponding message.

Change the volume of your AirPods

To adjust the volume of your AirPods from your Apple Watch, tap on the “Now Playing” icon at the top of your Watch Face. There, you’ll be taken to a second screen with traditional playback controls. Now, all you have to do is turn the Digital Crown in either direction to adjust the sound to your liking.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.