To me, a smartwatch is the ideal alarm clock. It can be silent, so you don’t need to wake sleeping partners, and also connected to your wrist, so you’re likely to feel the taps gently rise you from the most interesting of dreams. It’s nearly perfect. And yet, the Apple Watch had a fatal flaw that made using it a risky affair — that is, until now.
Your Apple Watch doesn’t have many buttons. There are two, in fact: the crown (which can also be turned like a dial), and the Side button. To compensate, Apple assigns a lot of functionality to the touch screen, just as it does on your iPhone. One of those shortcuts happens to impact how you turn off an alarm once it goes off in the morning: You can quickly silence the alarm by covering the watch face with your palm for three seconds. That also goes for haptics, too: Even if you have a silent alarm, covering the watch face will kill any taps or vibrations.
That feature works well when you know about it. But, chances are you didn’t know about it. What’s more, you definitely don’t know about it when you’re just waking up, and half asleep you might accidentally cover the screen with your hand just because you don’t know it’s there. That has the unintended consequence of silencing your alarm, potentially causing you to sleep much later than you wanted to. If you’ve ever wondered why your watch says “Alarm,” but it isn’t making noise when you wake up, this feature is likely why.
Apple finally addressed this issue, presumably after one too many executives missed their morning meetings due to missed alarms. With watchOS 9.4, the company has disabled the ability to cover your watch to mute an alarm when using a Focus. So, if your alarm is set to go off at 6 a.m. from your Sleep Focus, you’ll definitely hear and/or feel it. We have a whole guide on using Focuses in iOS (which will carry over to the watch) if you’d like to get started.
To take advantage of the change, make sure your watch is updated to at least watchOS 9.4. You’ll find the option on your watch from Settings > General > Software Update.
But that’s only true when using Focuses. If you opt out of Focuses and set a typical alarm, you’ll run into the same issues with “Cover to Mute.” If you don’t want to switch up your sleep habits, the safer bet is to disable the cover feature altogether. You’ll find the option from your watch’s Settings > Sounds & Haptics > Cover to Mute. Now, you won’t be able to use the shortcut for quickly silencing alerts like phone calls, but at least you can sleep easy.