Now Playing on Apple Watch

The Now Playing glance is one of the most useful features of Apple Watch: quickly pause your music, skip a Squarespace ad, save an Apple Music track to your library, skip a terrible song, name that artist, and adjust the volume. All from a quick swipe-up on your watch.

It’s a dense yet effective UI providing a lot of control and information. But it starts to break down when nothing is playing. When I come back to this screen after a few hours, maybe I’m in the car or going for a walk, the interface is much less helpful. I really dont care about skipping tracks, changing volume, or the timestamp. I have no context for these things. Instead, I am deciding what to listen to and all I want is to press play.

But a play button isn’t enough; I want to choose what to play. So my suggestion is that after being paused for a while, it should show me a short list of things I might want to play. With a single tap I could resume listening to music, start up that podcast I didn’t finish yesterday, or listen to the audiobook I was enjoying over the weekend. Or if I’ve only been listening to music lately, it could show me a few recently played albums and playlists.

It’s a small change, but it would seriously save me a bit of frustration and a few seconds several times every day, which is exactly what Apple Watch is meant to do.

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