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Get your Apple Watch to tap out the time

A covert way of getting your Apple Watch to tell you the time.

Ever wanted to know the time without looking at your watch? Maybe you're talking to someone and don't want to seem rude or distracted, perhaps you're driving, or it's nighttime and you don't want your retinas blasted by light.

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The Apple Watch offers a really neat way to know what time it is without looking at the watch -- and no, it doesn't involve a Disney character squeaking at you either.

Also: Best smartwatch in 2021

You can use the vibration motor through a feature called Taptic Time.

To activate this, go to Settings on your Apple Watch or the Watch app on your iPhone, find Clock, and then scroll down to Taptic Time.

Here you get a short description of the feature. Tap on it to get into the main settings. Here you can enable and disable the feature, and also choose between three feedback options:

  • Digits: Accurate top the minute
  • Terse: Accurate to the quarter of the hour
  • Morse Code: Accurate, but you need to know Morse Code!

Each provides different feedback, and you can choose what works for you. These modes all sound like they're going to be difficult to pick up, but they're not (even though the Morse Code option feels slow to me).

To activate you press and hold two fingers on the screen.

There are some limitations to this feature. The primary one being that the display has to be on, and you have to be on the watch face screen, which means it doesn't work when Theater Mode is enabled and dimming the screen. When I'm using this feature, I don't want to raise the watch to my face (and I use Theater Mode a lot to save battery life and because I don't want something continually lit on my arm), so I precede the two-finger press with a single tap to wake the display.   

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