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Fixing the Side Button On The Apple Watch

Fixing the Side Button On The Apple Watch

April 4, 2016

Matt Birchler writing on his site BirchTree:

The Apple Watch has 2 physical buttons on it; the Digital Crown and the “side button”. Considering there are so few inputs on this product, you would think that you’d use both of them pretty regularly. Unfortunately that is not the case with the side button. I don’t use it, and based on what I’ve heard from other people, they don’t use it either. Clearly Digital Touch is not as big a deal as Apple was expecting it to be last year, so that button goes unused 99.9% of the time.

My God, he couldn’t be more right. The side button is pretty much completely useless other than for Apple Pay for me and so many folks I know who wear one. Perhaps Apple has other plans with it in watchOS 3, but at the moment, I find to be mostly useless.

Apple’s hope that people would use Digital Touch I think failed completely. And I don’t think they can bring it back on the Watch. I do, however, think that the drawing aspect of the Apple Watch should be brought to the iPhone, a place that has far more real estate for things like drawing and such.

Birch suggests some interesting way the Apple Watch side button could be put to use, though. And to be honest, I think his ideas are interesting:

What if the side button was treated as an “auxiliary button” who’s function would change based on what app you have open on your iPhone? It would;t matter what screen you were on in the watch, this would trigger something on your phone to happen.

Birch’s idea is that rather than have to Force Touch to do certain actions, like pause a song while you’re running, the side button could do that for you. I find that to make far more sense. I mean, seriously, have you ever tried to pause a song while running with your Apple Watch? It’s impossible, you basically have to stop moving which defeats the entire purpose of wearing something more convenience for exercise.

I’ve been thinking a lot about watchOS 3 and my real hope is that Apple is rethinking a lot of it from the ground up. My hope is that this OS is similar to Apple TV OS in that it’s changed quite a bit throughout the years until they figured out a format that they think works best. If not, I fear many of the Apple Watch functions will go lost and never be used.

You can check out Matt Birchler’s full post here.