Notifications

On Apple Watch, notifications communicate high-value information through quick, glanceable interactions. Notifications occur in two stages: short looks and long looks. A short look — which contains brief but meaningful information — appears when the wearer's wrist is raised and disappears when it's lowered. If the wearer's wrist remains raised, Apple Watch displays a long look that can provide a richer experience and more details. People can also view their notifications in Notification Center.

You can help people have a great notification experience by designing app-specific assets and actions that are relevant on Apple Watch. If your watchOS app has an iPhone companion that supports notifications, watchOS can automatically provide default short-look and long-look interfaces if necessary.

Short Looks

Short looks appear briefly, giving people just enough time to see what the notification is about and which app sent it. Because people might miss a short look, avoid using it as the only way to communicate important information.

Screenshot of the activity app showing all three rings closed and text that says goal achieved.

Make titles short and easy to understand. Space for titles is limited, so keep them brief and put details in the body of your notification.

Keep privacy in mind. Short looks are intended to be discreet, so it's important to provide only basic information. Avoid including potentially sensitive information in the notification’s title.

Long Looks

Long looks provide more detail about a notification. A long look appears when the wearer's wrist remains raised after receiving a short look or when people tap the short look. People can dismiss a long look manually by tapping it, or automatically by lowering their wrist.

Screenshot of a Calendar notification for an invitation from Lexi Torres for an event called Let's Celebrate! The screenshot extends below the device frame to display the event's date and location, in addition to Accept, Maybe, Decline, and Dismiss buttons.

A custom long look interface can be static or dynamic. The static interface lets you display a notification’s message along with additional static text and imagery. The dynamic interface gives you access to the notification’s full content and offers more options for configuring the appearance of the interface.

You can customize the content area for both static and dynamic long looks, but you can't change the overall structure of the interface. The system-defined structure includes a tinted sash at the top of the interface and a Dismiss button at the bottom, below all custom buttons.

Provide a static interface and, optionally, a dynamic interface. The system defaults to the static interface when the dynamic interface is unavailable, such as when there is no network or the iPhone companion app is unreachable.

Make long-look interfaces glanceable. Place the most important information at the top of your interface so that people can find that information quickly. Use fonts, colors, and layout to make important information stand out. Although it’s best to be succinct, people can swipe vertically or use the Digital Crown to scroll your long look if necessary.

Provide rich notification content in your custom long looks. When you provide rich content in a long look, people have less need to launch your app. Consider using SwiftUI to create engaging, interruptible animations; alternatively, you can use SpriteKit or SceneKit.

Choose a background appearance for the sash. The system-provided sash at the top of the long look interface displays your app icon and name. You can customize the sash’s color or give it a blurred appearance. If you display a photo at the top of the content area, you'll probably want to use the blurred sash, which has a light, translucent appearance that gives the illusion of overlapping the image.

Choose a background color for the content area. By default, the long look’s background is transparent. If you want to match the background color of other system notifications, use white with 18% opacity; otherwise, you can use a custom color, such as a color within your brand’s palette.

Provide up to four custom actions below the content area. For each long look, the system uses the notification’s type to determine which of your custom actions to display as buttons in the notification UI. In addition, the system always displays a Dismiss button at the bottom of the long look interface, below all custom buttons. If your watchOS app has an iPhone companion that supports notifications, the system shares the actionable notification types already registered by your iPhone app and uses them to configure your custom action buttons.

Identify destructive actions. If a button can cause a destructive action like removing or deleting content, set the action's style to destructive so that the system can style its button correctly. For developer guidance, see destructive.

Design static images in advance. You must create resources intended for your static interface in advance and package them with your app.