Nifty app uses Morse code to send Apple Watch messages

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Who would've thought a dot and a dash could solve all your messaging problems?
Photo: Patryk Laurent

Although there are ways of messaging people with the Apple Watch — either with Siri dictation, or using pre-written responses and emojis — as far as I know, no-one has yet come up with the perfect method for typing and sending messages from the device itself, without needing to whip out your iPhone to help do so.

That’s exactly the problem Patryk Laurent, cognitive scientist working at the Brain Corporation in San Diego — and an avid Apple Watch fan — has set out out to solve. His solution is a nifty homemade app, which allows users to input their messages using Morse code.

Yes, it’s every bit as geeky and awesome as it sounds.

As Laurent tells Cult of Mac, you don’t even need to have your iPhone with you to use the app if your Apple Watch has previously connected to the Wifi network you’re on.

Patryk Laurent's app is a nifty Apple Watch messaging tool.
Patryk Laurent’s app is a nifty Apple Watch messaging tool.
Photo: LinkedIn

“The idea of tapping out messages in Morse code came pretty naturally when thinking about ways to communicate subtly using the touch interface,” he says. “This way, I would be able to send or reply to text messages without having to use dictation — especially useful if [I’m] in a meeting or a seminar.”

The app uses the Apple Watch’s Taptic Engine to signal when it has parsed each letter. He also added the ability to use the wearable’s Digital Crown to select the destination phone number or email address of the recipient.

Of course, not everyone knows Morse code, which is one reason why for now the app is just a homemade project rather than a commercially available app. But it’s perfect for someone like Laurent — who learned Morse as part of his training as a licensed ham radio operator.

“It was definitely fun to make the app, but that wasn’t the main driver,” he says. “The main reason was to enable functionality on Apple Watch that wasn’t there before. After making the app, I also realized it provides a really convenient way to communicate with the learning system for our robots at my day job. No need to leave the robot and run over to the keyboard.”

Could this be the “killer app” so many people are searching for on the Apple Watch?

“I’d like to rephrase the question,” he says. “Instead of killer app, what’s the killer feature [of the Apple Watch]? To me, it’s the combination of programmability and the user interface. I think Apple realizes this, and this is why they have made the watch user interface so configurable.”

Good thing there are smart folks like Patryk Laurent to take advantage of it.