Apple’s design of the Apple Watch hasn’t changed all that much since the first model was released in 2015, including the use of the watch’s Digital Crown. It’s one of two buttons present on the wearable, and despite being so small, it’s one of the Apple Watch’s best hardware features.
To say that the Apple Watch has been a massive success for Apple would be a massive understatement. It’s become the go-to smartwatch for anyone with an iPhone, not to mention it’s the market leader for the entire smartwatch industry. This is due to a few different reasons, ranging from the Apple Watch’s excellent app support, continually improving software, and the top-notch performance provided by Apple’s S-series processors.
Apple has tweaked and refined the Apple Watch’s design over the years, but for the most part, it’s remained mostly the same. It’s available in two sizes, has a squarish display, and two buttons — including the side button and Digital Crown. The Digital Crown is a small, circular button on the Apple Watch that can be used in a couple of different ways. Users can press the Digital Crown, in addition to rotating it up and down. It seems like a pretty simple button on the surface, but the way it’s integrated with the watchOS software makes it incredibly powerful.
Quickly pressing the Digital Crown from the watch face shows the home screen/app library, and from there, pressing the Digital Crown again goes back to the watch face. If a user is in an app, pressing the Digital Crown returns them to the home screen — with another press sending users to the watch face. Double-clicking the Digital Crown returns users to the last app that was used, with this working for the two most-recently-used apps. Let’s say someone opened the Activity app, then the Messages app, and then returned to the watch face. Double-pressing the Digital Crown would then open the Messages app, and if they double-pressed it again, the Activity app would open. This is one of the Digital Crown’s lesser-known features, but it’s also one of the best for quickly hopping back and forth between a couple of apps. Finally, if users press and hold the Digital Crown, Siri will open so they can start giving a voice command.
That’s everything the Digital Crown can do when it’s pressed, but what happens when it’s rotated? On the home screen, it can be used to zoom in/out or scroll through the apps list (depending on which view users have set up). If users are in an app, rotating the Digital Crown allows them to scroll through it without using the touchscreen. When in an app to control media playback, such as Spotify, rotating the Digital Crown adjusts the volume of whatever’s playing. For swimmers out there, rotating the Digital Crown can unlock the screen while a swimming workout is being recorded.
While that’s certainly a lot to take in at once, all of this functionality is pretty self-explanatory in actual use. If users need to zoom, scroll, or adjust volume, rotating the Digital Crown does just that. To get back to the watch face, home screen, quickly switch between apps, or invoke Siri, press the Digital Crown. It’s pretty impressive Apple was able to cram so much out of such a small button, and hopefully, it now all makes a bit more sense.
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