Pro Tip: The secret meaning of Apple Watch notifications shapes

by Evan Killham November 09, 2015

Pro Tip Cult of Mac bugIf you’ve not paying really close attention to your Apple Watch notifications, you might have missed out on a really subtle and clever design decision the company built into them.

It turns out that Apple uses two different shapes for its watch Apple Watch notification badges. And here’s why.

I usually just buzz through my notifications and don’t pay much attention outside of the content, but it turns out that the app icon that appears next to your alerts will either be square or round. Mac Kung Fu helpfully pointed out the distinction between the two: Round notifications are ones you can take action on from the Apple Watch itself, and square ones will require you to switch over to your phone if you want to do anything about them.

Whether you see round or square depends on whether your smartwatch actually has the app loaded on it. If you don’t, and you’re just mirroring notifications from your iPhone, you’ll get a square badge that basically just serves as an FYI. You’ll only be able to dismiss square ones from your watch, but if you see a circle, go ahead and tap on that thing and make some stuff happen.

I’ve just kind of gotten a sense for which apps have full watchOS functionality, but now that I know this trick, it’ll come in handy when I download new ones. We aren’t sure if this is a clever design or not, since we literally never noticed until someone pointed it out to us, but it’s definitely useful once you know it’s a thing.

Mac Kung Fu also discovered why Mail notifications can be either round or square.

“If the notification is square then the message is not in the mailbox that you configured in the iPhone’s Watch app for notifications. All you’ll be able to do is dismiss this notification. If the notification is round then, yes, it’s in the inbox or designated mailbox. You’ll be able to reply to it from the notification, and flag it, and so on.”

So now we all know.



Evan Killham
Evan Killham

Author



Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Learn about your Apple Watch

Study finds Apple Watch is most accurate wearable at measuring heart rate

by Buster Hein May 24, 2017

When it comes to measuring heart rate and calories burned, not all fitness trackers are created equal, based on the findings of a scientific study that pitted the top wearables on the market against each other. The in-depth study conducted by researchers at Stanford University was published today, revealing that Apple Watch is the most […]

Continue Reading

Cult of Mac Watch Store’s 20 percent off sale ends Sunday! [Watch Store]

by Ami Icanberry May 12, 2017

Welcome to Cult of Mac Watch Store’s first big sale! We’ve selected some of your favorite brands — Clessant, Strapple, Bucardo and Form Function Form — and are offering a 20 percent discount on all straps. You’ll find a huge variety of bands for your Apple Watch in both 38mm and 42mm sizes from Italian calf’s leather to […]

Continue Reading

Get 10% off Ullu’s cool, exotic bands for Apple Watch [Watch Store]

by Ami Icanberry May 10, 2017

Apple-centric accessories brand Ullu offers a taste of the exotic with its line of handcrafted leather bands for Apple Watch. Give your watch a custom look with high-style and durable leathers in ostrich and stingray. Peruse Ullu’s collection of colorful, exotic bands in our Watch Store. Enter the code ShopUllu! at checkout for a 10 percent discount.

Continue Reading