An In-Depth Look at TimeBuzz; an Apple Watch App that Allows You to Tell the Time Using the Taptic Engine

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

In this podcast, David Woodbridge takes an in-depth look at TimeBuzz, a new Apple Watch app that makes it possible to feel the current time through vibrations of the Taptic Engine on the Apple Watch.

When introducing TimeBuzz to the AppleVis community, the developer offered the following description of how it works:

The app is designed especially for blind and low vision users to allow them to discretely get to know the current time without the need for the time to be pronounced.

If you open the app on the Apple Watch there will be a large button with the text 'Tap to buzz the time'. When you tap this button the app will start buzzing the current time. It will translate the time into a pattern of long and short vibrations whereby it will first buzz the hours and then the minutes. In between every sequence of vibrations there will be a short pause to be able to separate the hours and minutes from each other. You will feel a distinctive vibrating buzz when opening the app and when you start the buzzing of the current time so that you know when you opened the TimeBuzz app or tapped the button on the screen. To make it easier to start the app you can select a TimeBuzz complication on your watch face so you can start the app directly from the watch face.

The patterns of the vibrations can be chosen by selecting a buzz pattern which are named after famous clocks around the world. They range from simple to understand to more advanced shortened vibrations.

TimeBuzz is a US$0.99 download from the iTunes App Store

Podcast File



Submitted by Kathy Blackburn on Wednesday, January 23, 2019

I am using the Apple Watch GPS Series 4. I downloaded Time Buzz and would like to ask how to get it to tap an accurate count of minutes past the hour? I have tried the different vibration patterns it has for indicating time, but when I double-tap the watch, I get the correct number for the hours, but then I only get long vibrations that tell me which quarter hour I'm in. I have looked at settings both on my phone and on the watch. Any suggestions?

Submitted by charles on Wednesday, January 23, 2019

On my Apple watch series 4, I can silently check the time right out of the box. From your clock face, do a 2 finger double tap. The vibration patters is a long beep for each hour followed by a short beep for each additional time segment. 12 hours would be a long vibration followed quickly by 2 short vibrations. Minutes are given in the same pattern, so if you get 5 long vibrations followed by 9 short ones, it is 59. No additional app needed.

Submitted by Kathy Blackburn on Thursday, January 24, 2019

In reply to by charles

On my Series 4 Apple watch, two-finger double-tap does nothing at all. One-finger double-tap will give me vibrations for the correct number of hours. For minutes, on the other hand, I get only a long vibration for each quarter hour, so I am not getting the exact ⠐⠞⠲

Submitted by Joseph Westhouse on Thursday, January 24, 2019

Perhaps the behavior of @Charles Series 4 is different than that of my Series 3, but for me buzzing the time out of the box is a one finger double-tap, or triple-tap to tell just the minutes. You can also change what pattern is used in the settings.