Use side button on Apple Watch to control Workout app

Number:rdar://21816862 Date Originated:14-Jul-2015 10:58 AM
Status:Duplicate/19539788 Resolved:
Product:watchOS Product Version:1.0
Classification:Enhancement Reproducible:Always
First, read this report about how electrolytes in water can wreak havoc on the Apple Watch’s capacitive touchscreen:

I can't see Apple adopting another type of touchscreen sensor technology: capacitive devices work flawlessly in the vast majority of cases. Yet, as you’ll see in my report, there are some very real problems during all types of workouts.

Going forward, the only solution I can see to these problems is some kind of physical button. Given the history of other iOS devices, I also don't see Apple adding buttons to the case design.

Runners and cyclists don't want to poke at their wrists to get a lap time or mark the end of a workout. It's cumbersome and potentially dangerous to take your eyes off the road. Swimmers don't even have the option of diverting their attention.

This situation reminds me a lot of the problem with a shutter switch on the iPhone. When your attention needs to be focused on framing your photo; finding a virtual button is counterproductive. A physical button is much simpler and practical, even if it's normally used to adjust the volume.

So why can't the side button be used during a workout? A single click could start or pause the workout; a double-click could stop the workout. Maybe a triple-click could do something more advanced like a lap time.

Like taking a photograph, a workout is a special mode in your life. I can't imagine a use case where you'd want to use Apple Pay during a workout. Likewise, sending a heartbeat to a friend during a workout would make them think something was seriously wrong with you. If you feel the need to text someone during a workout, you need to re-evaluate your strategy for good health.

Athletes have been using chronographs to track their progress since it was possible to put time in your pocket. I think it's time Apple Watch took some cues from the physical interactions we use on a stopwatch.


Thanks also for the well-written article.

Well put. I've duped this to 21888054. Don't give a damn about swimming, but the button for working out is spot-on. Garmin is dead simple. Watch is rage-inducing.


Finally, someone else has verbalized my pain, and most of my solution. (And yes, that "finally" is there just in case Gruber reads this.)

I'm not brave enough to swim with my Watch, but I do sweat it up every single day with a 70-80minute run. And fingers/hands dripping sweat do not do well with that screen. Apple has already made Workout app "special" in that the Notifications and Glances swipes do nothing.

Therefore, turn the side button into a "hard" button for timing things. With zeroes (or the "READY" in case you don't know that all zeroes means know...ready) showing: - One press starts the workout timer - Another press give you a lap - Double-tap to pause - Press/hold stops the workout timer.


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