Update: AssistiveTouch will launch as part of watchOS 8 in Fall 2021.
Apple has shown off soime insanely cool gesture controls for Apple Watch, designed for people with disabilities.
Aimed at those with “upper limb differences”, the new Assistive Touch for Apple Watch enables control without having to interact with the touchscreen display.
That includes clenching the fist, pinching fingers, and incredibly, shaking the wrist to summon a cursor, which can be controlled by tilting the Watch around. We’re not going to lie, it looks a lot of fun – although there’s a serious element, allowing people who struggle to use the smartwatch for physical reasons to enjoy its best features.
Apple says it will use a range of motion and optical heart rate signals to decipher the gestures and motion of your arm.
“Apple Watch can detect subtle differences in muscle movement and tendon activity, which lets users navigate a cursor on the display through a series of hand gestures, like a pinch or a clench,” said an Apple blog on the new features.
There’s a pretty awesome video showing some of the real world applications of the new gesture controls.
The video shows a user pinching to flick between on-watch options, like a physical tabbing around the display.
In another a quick message appears on the watch instructing the user to double clench to answer an incoming call.
And in the final video a wrist shake brings up an on-watch pointer. The user then controls it with their wrist, hovering over on-watch options before offering a confirmatory clench.
We’re not sure when this is going to launch – we’re assuming it will be part of watchOS 8, which we should see at WWDC 2021 and will debut with the Apple Watch Series 7 this fall.
How we test