This week Apple seeded watchOS 8.3 Release Candidate and the update expands an accessibility feature ‘Assistive Touch’ to older Apple Watch models.
In 2021, Apple launched the Assistive Touch for users with limited upper body movement to control their Apple Watch with hand gestures and remove the need to touch the screen. Sensors in the Apple Watch enable users to users can answer incoming calls, access the Notification Center and Control Center, and more with a combination of clench or pinch gestures. However, the feature was exclusively available on the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, and Apple Watch Series 7.
watchOS 8.3 will bring Assistive Touch to Apple Watch Series 5 and older models
Owners of Apple Watch Series 5 and Series 4 shared the discovery on Twitter and Reddit. After installing the watchOS 8.3 Release Candidate update, they found that Assistive Touch was working on their devices.
I am on 8.3 RC and it’s indeed available on my Series 4. pic.twitter.com/DEcI8qXDn1
— Peter Fang @firstname.lastname@example.org (@petefang) December 8, 2021
@Laconic9x posted a demo video on Reddit that shows the accessibility feature working on his Apple Watch Series 5. Using combinations of finger pinches and hand clenches, he was able to select complications on his watch face, play music, swipe through a menu, and control the on-screen pointer.
In addition to users with disabilities, the feature is also helpful in situations when it is difficult to touch the screen or press buttons. As per Apple’s support page, users can perform the following actions using gestures with AssistiveTouch:
- Tap the display
- Press and turn the Digital Crown
- Swipe between screens
- Hold the side button
- Access Notification Center, Control Center, and the Dock
- Show apps
- Use Apple Pay
- Confirm double-clicks of the side button
- Activate Siri
Other features on watchOS 8.3 Release Candidate include the new affordable Apple Music Voice Plan powered by Siri, support for App Privacy Report to record data and sensor access, and a fix for the issue where notifications interrupted Mindfulness sessions.