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Press the Side button on your Apple Watch and you’re taken to the Friends screen (Figure 4.43). Since Apple decided to dedicate one of the few physical buttons on the watch to the Friends screen, you know it’s important. This is how you initiate contact with the people you care most about via your watch. Think of this as the favorites on your iPhone, which in fact, is how the Friends screen is populated by default.

Figure 4.43

Figure 4.43 The Friends screen lists your favorite people.

When you first set up your watch, anyone you’ve marked as a favorite in your contacts will be listed on the Friends screen (if you have more than 12 favorites you’re very popular, and only the first 12 will be listed on the Friends screen).

The Friends screen makes it very easy to text, call, and use Digital Touch (only with your friends who have an Apple Watch) with a couple of taps.

You can use the Digital Crown to select one of the 12 friends, or you can tap on one to select it. Then, tap on the middle circle to go to the Friends screen (Figure 4.44). You can call, use Digital Touch, or text the friend by tapping on one of the icons along the bottom of the screen.

Figure 4.44

Figure 4.44 The Friends detail screen gives you the option to call, use Digital Touch, and text.

Adding friends

As I mentioned, your favorite contacts are added to the Friends screen by default. You can add other people easily, though they must be in your iPhone’s contacts first:

  1. Launch the Apple Watch iPhone app and tap Friends.
  2. The list of your current friends is displayed (Figure 4.45). To the left of your friend’s name is an icon that depicts their location on the Friends screen circle. Tap the I in a circle icon to see that friend’s contact information right in the Apple Watch app. Each slot that doesn’t currently have a friend assigned to it simply displays Add Friend. Tap one.

    Figure 4.45

    Figure 4.45 Manage your friends via the Apple Watch app.

  3. The Contacts chooser appears (Figure 4.46). You can scroll through your contacts to find the friend you want to add, or search for them at the top the screen. Once you’ve found the contact you want to add as a friend, tap on it. Contacts that are already listed in your Friends screen are grayed out.

    Figure 4.46

    Figure 4.46 Pick a contact to add to your Friends screen.

    That contact will now appear on your Friends list and will appear on your watch’s Friends screen.

Friendly faces

You’ll notice that some people have pictures displayed on their contacts in the Friends screen, while others are just initials in a circle. If a contact doesn’t have a photo assigned to them in your iPhone, their Friends screen entry will be their initials.

To assign a picture to a contact:

  1. Launch the Contacts app on your iPhone.
  2. Find the contact you want to assign a picture to and tap on it.
  3. Tap Edit to edit the contact.
  4. Tap on the “add photo” circle next to the contact’s name (Figure 4.47).

    Figure 4.47

    Figure 4.47 A contact’s detail on the iPhone.

  5. Three buttons appear: Take Photo, Choose Photo, and Cancel (Figure 4.48).

    Figure 4.48

    Figure 4.48 You can assign a new or existing photo to any of your contacts.

Take Photo allows you to use the iPhone’s camera to take a picture that will be assigned to the contact. Tap this button, and then point the camera at whatever you want to take a picture of. Tap the white shutter button and a photo will be taken. The picture is previewed in a circle (Figure 4.49). Move and resize it with your fingers to fit best in the circle. When you’re happy with it, tap Use Photo (tapping Retake allows you to take another photo).

Figure 4.49

Figure 4.49 When you take a new photo, it is masked by a circle so you can see how it’ll be displayed.

The photo will now be assigned to that contact (Figure 4.50).

Figure 4.50

Figure 4.50 The photo assigned to Billie’s contact.

Tapping Choose Photo allows you to pick a picture already on your iPhone to go through the same process.

Tap Done on the contact and the photo will be assigned to this contact. After a few minutes, it will appear on the Friends screen on your Apple Watch as well.

Removing friends

With only 12 slots on the Friends screen you might need to move some friends out of the circle to make room for others. You can do this by swiping left across a friend in the Friends section of the Apple Watch app (Figure 4.51). This reveals a Remove button, which you can then tap to remove the friend from the Friends screen.

Figure 4.51

Figure 4.51 Swipe left on a friend to reveal the Remove button.

If you want to do a mass removal:

  1. Launch the Apple Watch app and tap on Friends.
  2. Tap Edit at the top right of the Friends screen.
  3. Tap the circle next to each of the friends you want to delete and the Remove button will appear (Figure 4.52). Tap the circles next to the friends you want to remove until they are all removed from the Friends screen.

    Figure 4.52

    Figure 4.52 In the Edit mode, tap the minus icon to quickly delete friends.

If you want change the order of the Friends screen, you also do that in the Apple Watch app:

  1. In the Friends section of the Apple Watch app, tap the Edit button at the top right of the screen.
  2. On the right side of each friend slot there is a three-lined icon. Tap and drag on that icon to reorder the friends on the Friends screen. If you don’t have 12 people to add to your Friends screen (I don’t), I find it nice to use empty slots as spacers between each friend.

Interacting with friends

When a friend is selected in the Friends screen, up to three icons appear at the bottom of the screen: phone call, Digital Touch, and text message. Each of these interactions requires that the paired iPhone be in range, and Digital Touch requires that the person you’re contacting also have an Apple Watch (more on what, exactly, a Digital Touch is in a moment).

Phone call

Calling anyone in your friends is pretty easy. Bob likes to make use of this feature when he is driving, since he can be on the phone without having the phone in his hand (since it is on his wrist!).

To call on of your friends from your wrist:

  1. Press the Side button to go into the Friends screen.
  2. Scroll or tap to select the friend you want to call and then tap on the center circle.
  3. Tap the phone icon on the left of the screen.
  4. If your friend has more than one phone number in their contact information, each is displayed (Figure 4.53). Tap on the number you want to call.

    Figure 4.53

    Figure 4.53 When a contact has more than one phone number, your watch displays the options.

    Your friend’s name will be displayed along with a message that says Calling Mobile (or whatever phone number you selected), and you’ll hear the phone ringing.

Digital Touch

Digital Touch is strictly an Apple Watch–to–Apple Watch mode of communication, which takes three forms: sketches, taps, and heartbeats. Each of the three is sent directly to another Apple Watch, where they are displayed on the screen. Once you send another Digital Touch to that same person, it replaces the previous Digital Touch. This makes Digital Touches fleeting and ephemeral, but your watch does store the last received Digital Touch, which can be replayed until a new one is delivered that replaces it.

The Digital Touch icon appears under your friend in the Friends screen to indicate that they can receive Digital Touches (which also means that they, too, have an Apple Watch) (Figure 4.54). If the icon doesn’t appear, that means you can’t send that person a Digital Touch.

Figure 4.54

Figure 4.54 The Digital Touch icon.

To initiate a Digital Touch:

  1. Press the Side button to go to the Friends screen.
  2. Select the friend you’d like to send a Digital Touch to, and tap them.
  3. If the Digital Touch icon appears, tap it to enter the Digital Touch screen.

The Digital Touch screen is a blank canvas on which you draw, tap, or touch with two fingers to send one of the three supported Digital Touches: sketches, taps, or heartbeats (Figure 4.55). At the top of the left of the canvas is the recipient, on the right side is the color picker (more information in a moment), and at the bottom is a button that’ll show you some more information about the ways you can use the canvas.

Figure 4.55

Figure 4.55 The Digital Touch screen.

Sketches, as you might guess, are little drawings that you sketch with your fingertip against the Apple Watch’s display.

To send a sketch:

  1. Press the Side button to go to the Friends screen, tap on the friend you want to send a sketch to, and then tap the Digital Touch button.
  2. This takes you to the Digital Touch screen. Start sketching with your fingertip (Figure 4.56). As you sketch, your drawing appears. Once you’re finished (the watch assumes you’re done once you raise your finger off the display for a few seconds), the drawing seemingly fades from the display.

    Figure 4.56

    Figure 4.56 A sketch of a heart.

    This fading means that the sketch has been sent to your contact.

When a sketch is received, it appears as if you’re drawing the sketch on your friend’s watch.

Taps bring haptics to the Digital Touch party. When you send a tap to someone’s watch, it taps them on the wrist, much like an alert. Little color ripples are also displayed, as the watch taps the receiver in exactly the same spots that you tapped.

To send a tap:

  1. Press the Side button to open the Friends screen and select the friend you want to tap. Tap the Digital Touch button.
  2. On the Digital Touch screen, tap with your finger. Each time you tap the display, you’ll feel a haptic touch on your wrist and the screen will display colorful ripples originating from your fingertip (Figure 4.57).

    Figure 4.57

    Figure 4.57 A tap on the Digital Touch screen causes colorful ripples.

    The ripples fade away, and they are sent along to your Apple Watch–wearing friend.

When you’re on the Digital Touch screen, you’ll see a small colored circle in the upper-right corner. This determines the color of your sketches and the color of the ripples created by the taps. You can change this color to a few default options, or even select a custom color:

  1. Tap the color circle to bring up the color picker (Figure 4.58).

    Figure 4.58

    Figure 4.58 The color picker. The currently selected color is denoted by a black dot.

  2. Tap one of the color circles to select it. A black dot will appear in the middle of the circle to denote your selection.

If you force touch on one of the colored circles in the picker, the custom color picker will appear (Figure 4.59). Drag your finger along the color wheel to pick a color and tap Done to select it.

Figure 4.59

Figure 4.59 The custom color picker.

The custom color will replace whatever color the circle was previously, and the new custom color will be selected.

The last kind of Digital Touch you can send uses the display, the haptic feedback, and the heart rate sensor to create something that is bit of a novelty (and a little creepy). You can send your heartbeat to any of your Apple Watch–wearing contacts. They will feel the beat of your heartbeat on their wrist, as Apple Watch taps it out in time to a stylized heart graphic (Figure 4.60).

Figure 4.60

Figure 4.60 Touch the Digital Touch screen with two fingers to send your heartbeat to someone.

To send your heartbeat to one of your contacts:

  1. Press the Side button to bring up the Friends screen, select the friend, and tap the Digital Touch button.
  2. Press two fingers to the Digital Touch screen. As you do this a heart graphic will appear; you’ll feel taps on your wrist in time to your heartbeat.
  3. Your heartbeat is recorded for as long as you hold your fingers against the screen. When you’re satisfied with the length of time, remove your fingers from the display and your heartbeat is sent off to your contact where it beats against their wrist (and they can respond in kind).

When you get a Digital Touch, your Apple Watch will notify you (Figure 4.61). The notification will include the type of Digital Touch, just in case you are in a meeting where it might not be appropriate to watch a little drawing on your wrist. You can dismiss the notification and play the Digital Touch later. Or you can tap the notification to be taken to the Digital Touch screen where the Digital Touch is displayed. You can then immediately respond with you own touch (or heartbeat).

Figure 4.61

Figure 4.61 A heartbeat notification gives you instructions on how to respond.

If you don’t notice the notification, you’ll also see a small blue dot next to the contact who has sent you a not-yet-watched Digital Touch in the Friends screen (Figure 4.62). Tap the friend and then the Digital Touch button to view it.

Figure 4.62

Figure 4.62 The blue dot means you have a Digital Touch waiting for you from that friend.

You can replay the last Digital Touch, and only the last Digital Touch, that someone sent to you by tapping the little play button in that contact’s Digital Touch screen. Digital Touches aren’t saved on the watch, or anywhere else for that matter, so enjoy them for what they are: ephemeral pieces of technology-mediated whimsy on your wrist.

Texting a friend

The third button shown under a friend’s detail is the text messaging button. Text messages, much like phone calls, come from your iPhone’s number, so your friends won’t need to add a special Apple Watch number to their contacts.

To send a text message from the Friends screen:

  1. Press the Side button to go to the Friends screen and tap the friend you want to text.
  2. Tap the Message button to bring up the text message options. The text composition screen appears. Choose either one of the default replies or an emoji, or dictate a message. See the “Text Messaging” section earlier for full details.

    The message is sent to your friend.

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