The digital crown is one of the most important aspects of Apple Watch design. Here’s how it works and everything the button is capable of.

From Apple The design of the Apple Watch hasn’t changed much since the first model was released in 2015, including the use of the watch’s digital crown. It is one of the two buttons present on the wearable device and despite being so small it is one of the best hardware features of the Apple Watch.

To say that the Apple Watch has been a huge success for Apple would be an understatement. It has become the go-to smartwatch for anyone with an iPhone, not to mention the market leader for the entire smartwatch industry. This is for a few different reasons, ranging from the Apple Watch’s excellent app support, continuous software improvement, and top-notch performance provided by Apple’s S-series processors.

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Apple has modified and perfected the design of the Apple Watch over the years, but for the most part, it stayed pretty much the same. It is available in two sizes, has a square display and two buttons, including the side button and Digital Crown. The Digital Crown is a small circular button on the Apple Watch that can be used in two different ways. Users can press down on the digital crown, as well as rotate it up and down. It looks like a fairly simple button on the surface, but the way it’s integrated with watchOS software makes it incredibly powerful.

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Everything the Apple Watch Digital Crown can do

Apple Watch SE with yellow band

A quick press on the Digital Crown from the watch face brings up the home screen / app library and from there pressing the Digital Crown again takes you back to the watch face. If a user is in an app, pressing the digital crown returns to the home screen, and another press sends users to the watch face. Double-clicking on the Digital Crown returns users to the last application that was used, and this works for the two most recently used applications. Let’s say someone opened the Activity app, then the Messages app, and then went back to the watch face. Pressing the digital crown twice will open the Messages app, and pressing twice again will open the Activity app. This is one of the lesser-known features of the Digital Crown, but it’s also one of the best for quickly going back and forth between a couple of apps. Finally, if users hold down the Digital Crown, Siri will open so they can start giving a voice command.

That’s all the digital crown can do when pressed, but what happens when it is rotated? On the home screen, it can be used to zoom in / out or scroll through the list of applications (depending on the view that users have set). If users are in an application, turning the Digital Crown allows them to scroll through it without using the touch screen. When in an application to control media playback, such as Spotify, rotating the Digital Crown adjusts the volume of what is playing. For swimmers, turning the digital crown can unlock the screen while recording a swim workout.

While that’s certainly a lot to take in at once, all of this functionality is self-explanatory in actual use. If users need to zoom, pan, or adjust volume, rotating the Digital Crown does just that. To return to the watch face, home screen, quickly switch between apps, or invoke Siri, press Digital Crown. It’s pretty impressive that Apple has been able to get so much out of such a small button and hopefully it all makes a little more sense now.

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Fountain: Apple

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