More hands-free features may be coming to Apple Watch

More hands-free features may be coming to Apple Watch. The Apple Watch may include more “Raise to Speak” gestures in the future, as confirmed by a new patent filed today.

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Apple introduced Raise to Speak as part of a series of updates in watchOS 5 in 2018. The gesture, where the user raises their wrist and prepares to speak to the Apple Watch, is automatically treated as an intent to send a command to Siri , all without having to say any commands.

Otherwise, most actions on the Apple Watch still require you to use your hands, such as tapping the screen or turning the Digital Crown, and while voice commands are also useful, it’s not always appropriate to use them, especially in public.

Apple is therefore studying a series of solutions to increase the number of freehand gestures on the Apple Watch. One of the gestures is based on the detection of the user’s wrist, and is similar to the current “Raise to speak”.

For example, by rotating the wrist or tilting the arm, the user is prompted to select one of several actions presented on the display.

While this feature can be used to prompt various actions, such a system is more likely to be needed when a user needs to respond to a notification without having to use both hands. An example offered is accepting or rejecting an incoming call on the Apple Watch.

Again, by rotating the wrist backwards, the user can move the indicator in the relevant direction, then tilt it to determine what operation they want to perform, then rotate the wrist backwards for a specific amount of time to bring the indicator along all the way and to confirm the action.

In another example, a single-path lane with two corners can provide two different responses, such as mute a call and hang up during a call, with the duration appearing in the center in a U shape. The indicator can be held between the two corners while making the call, but can be angled at either end of the path if the user wants either action to be performed.

When a call is received, the Apple Watch could play a special ringtone consisting of high and low notes in a specific short sequence, potentially for each individual caller set. To answer the call, the user can perform a series of rotating movements that correspond to the notes of the ringtone.

The lift and rotate mechanism could also be employed to select and send predefined instant messages to contacts. Once the correct answer has been highlighted, the user can hold their wrist still for a few seconds to confirm that they want the message to be sent.

It is only a patent, but it confirms that Apple wants to allow users to use the Apple Watch more and more without having to physically touch it, especially thinking about uses in particular conditions. The risk is that these gestures can be many and complex to remember, but Apple has always managed to find a good compromise between functionality and ease of use.

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