Always On

On devices that include the Always-On Retina display, watchOS 8 and later can continue to display an app’s interface after a wearer drops their wrist.

When people drop their wrist, the system dims your interface to preserve battery life and continues to display it onscreen as long as your app is either the frontmost app or running a background session. While an app is in this state, people can continue to interact with its controls by tapping the display.

Best practices

Hide sensitive information. While dimmed, the user interface of the frontmost app is still visible, so it’s important to redact personal information that the wearer wouldn’t want casual observers to see, like bank balances or health data. Another component that might be visible to people other than the wearer is the short-look stage of a notification. Protect people’s privacy by providing only basic information and not including potentially sensitive information in the notification’s title. For guidance, see Notifications.

Keep other types of personal information glanceable when it makes sense. For example, people typically appreciate getting pace and heart rate updates while they’re working out, or viewing the next step on the way to their destination. If people don’t want any information to be visible, they can turn off Always On for your app.

Highlight important information by dimming nonessential content. You can increase dimming on secondary text, images, and color fills to give more prominence to the information people want to remain visible. For example, a to-do list app might remove row backgrounds and dim each item’s additional details to highlight the item title. Also, if you display rich images or large areas of color, consider removing images and using dimmed colors.

Keep the layout of interactive elements consistent. Always On lets people continue to use the frontmost app while the display is dimmed. Repositioning or removing interactive elements risks confusing people and making it difficult for them to use your app.

Platform considerations

Not supported in iOS, iPadOS, macOS, or tvOS.

Supported platforms