If you have an Apple Watch and use it on a daily basis to control the playback of the music you’re listening to, you may have noticed a change after updating to watchOS 9: The small game icon that used to be on the watch face is gone. And with that, we’ve lost one of the best ways to access playback controls right from our wrist.
For the first few days of watchOS 9’s life, I thought it was a bug that Apple would fix with subsequent updates, but time has passed and it doesn’t seem like this disappearance will be corrected. In any case, there are alternatives to continue having quick access to the playback controls of our Apple Watch.
Two ways to access playback controls in watchOS 9
The first and quickest way is put a complication in our sphere. If you use Apple Music, you need the music complication, and if you use Spotify, you can resort to the complication of the same name as the app. This allows you to access the playback controls of what you’re listening to with a single touch in addition to that complication.
It sounds obvious, but the icon we had in watchOS 8 allowed us to dedicate one of the Complications rooms to something else. Too bad the little icon that served as a shortcut is gone now.
Another option is to go to the recent applications screen from where you can access it a panel called “Now Play”. This section gives you access to what all of your devices are playing, with each device having its own set of controls. You can access this panel by pressing the side button on the Apple Watch once.
This mode means you’ll have to tap the screen more, but you might prefer it if you don’t want to devote a complication of your sphere to that matter.
There are quite a few people pointing out this disappearance of the play icon in watchOS: they point it out on the MacRumors forums and on sites like Piunika. At this point we can say that it is a design decision made by Apple, which remains to be seen if it is finally decided to reverse it.