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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

In praise of the Apple Watch’s Camera control

As technology enthusiasts, we’re all too often accustomed to looking forward to the next thing, to the feature that’s just over the horizon. And sometimes that means forgetting the amazing things we’ve already got—until they pop up, perfect for the job at hand.

When the original Apple Watch came out, one of its many (perhaps too many) whizbang features was the ability to look through the camera of the paired iPhone and take a photo with it. But the real-time image was jerky and imprecise and the screen was so small and grainy that it felt like more of a novelty than a real utility.

Fast forward to the year 2022 and I’m trying to take a picture of myself, my wife, and our kid in front of the Christmas tree. There’s only the three of us, so how to best capture the shot? I guess I could prop the phone up, hit the timer in the Camera app and scurry over in the hopes that I’ve posed correctly. But that sounds like a nightmare, especially with a squirming baby.

Dan, Kat, and kiddo in front of Christmas tree in matching Grogu pajamas
Happy holidays to all! Photo courtesy of the Apple Watch’s Camera app.

To the rescue flew the Apple Watch’s Camera app. I’ve probably used this feature a handful of times since the first Apple Watch, and probably not at all since I got my Series 7, and frankly I was blown away with just how much better the experience is than I remembered. A modern Apple Watch is now more than capable of showing a live, full-frame video stream with almost zero lag, and the screen is large enough that you can actually use it to tell if everything’s framed the way you want. You can easily take a shot and quickly check it on the watch to make sure that everybody’s eyes are open.

Screenshot from Apple Watch Camera app

The current version even provides an icon indicating whether or not the pictures will be going into your iCloud Photos Shared Library. If I have a complaint about the feature, it’s that I wish it would let me toggle between the camera’s various zoom levels. You can switch between front and rear-facing cameras, activate or deactivate features like the flash, HDR, and Live Photos, but not choose the ultra wide lens or a 2x or 3x zoom.

This still isn’t a feature I’m going to use everday, or even every month, but it’s absolutely perfect when the need arises. Honestly, it kind of makes me wonder what other things the Apple Watch can do that I haven’t checked in on in a while.1


  1. Have I missed out on not sending people my heartbeat in seven years?! 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at dan@sixcolors.com. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]

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