Apple could let you switch active devices in the future just by picking them up

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
You're using your iPhone and Mac, plus you're wearing your Apple Watch -- but Apple wants future devices to know which you're concentrating on right now and deliver notifications to that active one, instead of everything.




You've no reason to know this unless you're one of those people suffering under having too many Apple Watches to wear. But it used to be that switching between them as you try out different outfits entailed tapping a button on your iPhone, and now it doesn't.

Now, so long as you set it up in advance, you can have your Watches effectively know which one you're wearing now, which one is the active Watch from your collection. And Apple wants that to be equally possible with other devices, ranging from the iPhone, to "jewelry, shoes, or clothing."

It wants to so that, say, you can move between iPhone as easily as Apple Watches, perhaps when the battery's running down on one. Really, this could apply to any pair of devices, or even conceivably just any two devices.

Perhaps you're having a FaceTime call on your iPhone and you realise you'd rather use your iPad -- maybe you could just pick up the other device.

"Switching between watches or other accessories," is a newly-granted patent that is concerned with exactly this.

It's not about when you buy a new Apple Watch Series 7 or you sell off your old Apple shoes, it's about moving back and forth between devices.

With the Apple Watch, when you take one off, it breaks contact with your skin and that tells it to lock. Equally, when you put an Apple Watch on, you have to enter your passcode to unlock it.

So the first Watch knows it's not on your wrist any more, and the second Watch knows that it is.

To set this up, you have to go to the Watch app on your iPhone.

  1. Tap on My Watch

  2. Tap on My Watch

  3. Turn on Auto Switch

You only see that Auto Switch option if you have more than one Watch paired to your iPhone.

Applying the idea to other devices

Apple refers to Watches, shoes, and whatever, as "companion devices." The patent does the patent thing of trying to establish the broadest possible use case, so it includes obvious companion devices like phones and tablets, as well as less obvious, like glasses.

So this could be about when you have more than one iPad, for instance.

Whatever it is, Apple is concerned that you should be able to put one device down, pick up the other, and have the exact same data available immediately. So perhaps you bring two iPhones with you, one as your regular phone and one for filming. Apple wants you to be able to pick up either of them to do whatever you need.

In 13,000 words of patent, there is surprisingly little about how this might actually be achieved. What there is, tends to get repeated with subtly fine differences, but broadly, most options are about leveraging Bluetooth.

The idea can apply to any Apple devices, but it's illustrated with an Apple Watch
The idea can apply to any Apple devices, but it's illustrated with an Apple Watch


Note that despite Apple's patent being as broad as it is, its examples tend to be about Watches.

"While the [two devices are] within Bluetooth radio range," says Apple, "[they] can repeatedly transmit one or more wrist state values indicating an on-wrist confidence level of the watch."

Apple is doing here what it so often does. It's taking existing elements like Bluetooth and making them more useful. It's making use of them to expand its ecosystem, and use this holistic interconnectedness of all things, to make life a little easier.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    Automatic switching between Apple Watches has worked (mostly) since when I upgraded from the original to the Series 4. I now switch between series 4 and series 7 watches on a daily basis, which works at least 95% of the switches. The most significant flaw is that notifications for most installed apps that happen when a watch isn’t being worn trigger in the first 15 minutes of being subsequently worn. 
    Japheywatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 8
    One significant flaw in automatic switching is software updates; Apple assumes updates occur overnight when user is not wearing any Apple Watch. Since I am always wearing one of my watches to track sleeping with the AutoSleep app, Apple does not try to update the other watch, regardless of charging or not charging. To force an update, I have to either take off an Apple Watch and not switch to the other and then wait for update to occur, or go to the Watch app on my iPhone to force the update, or unlock the Apple Watch while charging and force update via the Settings/General/Software Update on the Watch. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 8
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,682member
    That sounds like the opposite of WUPHF



  • Reply 4 of 8
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,300member
    I have a personal iPhone and a work iPhone, and I so wish I could have my Apple Watch just switch to my work iPhone while I'm at work and then back to my personal iPhone while I'm back on personal time. When you get used to just looking at your watch for any notifications its annoying to have to keep grabbing your phone out of your pocket to see what the notification is for especially when you have 2 iPhones in your pocket. 
    docno42watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 8
    dutchlorddutchlord Posts: 61member
    I use my iphone and ipad during Zoom calls on my iMac. I don’t want any automatic switching to devices. Now my Airpods sometimes switch spontaneously to another device. This is highly irritating. 
  • Reply 6 of 8
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,102member
    macxpress said:
    I have a personal iPhone and a work iPhone, and I so wish I could have my Apple Watch just switch to my work iPhone while I'm at work and then back to my personal iPhone while I'm back on personal time. When you get used to just looking at your watch for any notifications its annoying to have to keep grabbing your phone out of your pocket to see what the notification is for especially when you have 2 iPhones in your pocket. 
    Get a work Watch for your other wrist.
    aderutterwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 8
    docno42docno42 Posts: 3,709member
    macxpress said:
    I have a personal iPhone and a work iPhone, and I so wish I could have my Apple Watch just switch to my work iPhone while I'm at work and then back to my personal iPhone while I'm back on personal time. When you get used to just looking at your watch for any notifications its annoying to have to keep grabbing your phone out of your pocket to see what the notification is for especially when you have 2 iPhones in your pocket. 
    Being able to pair a watch with more than one iPhone for notifications, period, would be amazing for just this kind of scenario too.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 8
    This is my worst nightmare.  They have already disabled notifications on my iPhone when wearing my series 7 watch (which did NOT happen with my original watch.)  If the watch is UNLOCKED, I no longer get any noise or vibration from the phone when a text or email arrives.  The sole notification is the haptic of the watch and a (nearly silent) "ping" on the watch - inaudible when in a room with any background noise.  I have nerve damage, and do not feel the haptics of the watch at all... so basically, no notifications.  Also, interestingly, when wearing the watch, if I turn WiFi call assist OFF on the phone... then the phone no longer rings AT ALL.  It's basically a cluster f%$*.

    I went through weeks of calls with customer support and engineering, and it turns out that... yes... that's what they've designed.  Someone decided that if you're wearing a watch, your phone just won't make noise anymore.   HORRIFYINGLY stupid imposition of a solution to a problem that did not exist, with absolutely NO OPT-OUT.  They oddly have chosen the setup language for the watch to MIRROR your iPhone's settings, but it does NOT, it USURPS them.

    Likewise, the "auto switching" of the AirPods is incredibly bad.  I would be on a phone call with my iPhone, and walk past an iMac in my house, and the AirPods would switch - IN SPITE - of being in USE on a call!   Also, when listening to music - ACTIVELY - and I sit down to do some work with any other device, in SPITE of being actively in use for music, the other device would take over the AirPods.  What's even dumber is that to turn off this incredibly ill-executed "feature" you have to choose a setting called "Connect when last connected".  It's incredibly poor execution of another IMPOSED behavior.  Oddly... the only  device that allows you NOT to participate in the madness is the TV, which very kindly offers a "Never Look For AirPods" setting, as opposed to the stupid double-positve/negative "Connect When Last Connected" approach.


    muthuk_vanalingam
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