The customizable action button on the Apple Watch Ultra can trigger shortcuts, plus a lot more


Later this week, Apple will release a version of Apple Watch UltraA more powerful and capable smartwatch aimed at explorers, adventurers and athletes. One of the many unique features of the $799 watch is the addition of a third button called the action button. This article reviews what you can do with it.

Apple Watch Ultra Orange Alpine Loop Action Large Button 220907

Action button location

The “International Orange” colored pill-shaped Action button is located next to the display on the left side of the ‌Apple Watch Ultra‌ titanium case, between the dual speakers and the siren.

Activate the siren

Pressing and holding the action button will activate the built-in 86dB siren, which can be heard from up to 600 feet (180 metres) away and is meant to be used to attract help during an emergency.

Ultra watch siren

Custom Actions

The action button is also customizable, which means that it can perform any function the user configures it for. Apple Watch Ultra ‌ users can choose an initial function of the action button when setting up their device. Later, they can adjust this choice in Settings, where a new section lists apps that support the button.

Apple Watch Ultra Action Button


Apple examples of what the button can be configured to do include start Backtrack (which uses GPS data to create a track of where you’ve been so you can track your steps), start a workout, and start a dive.

The action button can also be assigned to system-wide functions, such as turning a lamp on and off, marking a compass path point, or starting a stopwatch. Additionally, Apple Watch Ultra ‌ users can pause the current functionality by pressing the Action and Side buttons together.

Set shortcuts

Since the action button is powered by the new App Intents APIs that Apple released at WWDC in June, Apple Watch Ultra‌ users will also be able to assign shortcuts to it, providing huge possibilities for personalization, such as the ability to control smart home accessories.

Assigning a custom shortcut to the action button can also pave the way for additional adaptive functionality. For example, shortcuts with location or time-based actions can allow the action button to perform various functions throughout the day.

Multifunctional use with subsequent presses

Depending on which app the action button uses to control, Apple Watch Ultra users will in some cases be able to choose additional actions for subsequent taps.

Apple envisions people using the Action button without looking at the screen, so a subsequent button press should flow logically from the first press, while also making sense in the current context.

Section button tag work


For example, a workout app might let the user start a triathlon with the first button press and switch to another clip with a subsequent press.

However, it should be noted that applications will not be able to assign functions with a long press of the action button, since watchOS 9 This interaction is reserved for the emergency SOS feature.

last thoughts

Apple’s decision to add a third physical control to the ‌Apple Watch Ultra‌ in the form of an Action button does not allow quick access to a range of functions provided by the system. It also introduces a new tool for third-party developers that enables them to offer the main application features to users with the click of a button.

Whether Apple intends to bring the Action button to more affordable Apple Watch Series models in the future is an interesting question, and one that may depend on how versatile and irreplaceable it is in the hands of Ultra users.

Apple Watch Ultra 2


Priced at $799, the ‌Apple Watch Ultra‌ is available in a single 49mm size, with Trail, Ocean, and Alpine band options available. The new smartwatch can now be pre-ordered and launched along with the second generation AirPods Pro Next Friday, September 23. For more information about the design and features of the Apple Watch Ultra‌, be sure to check out customized tour.


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