Apple patent details AirDrop-like sharing for Apple Watch using handshake/hugging gestures


In a new patent application, Apple details an idea it’s experimenting with that would have Apple Watch users shake hands to exchange data (via PatentlyApple). The idea is simple. The patent application imagines two Apple Watch wearers exchanging data, such as contact information, for example, by performing common gestures like a handshake or a hug:

Author Ad Placeholder
Will only appear on redesign env.

Certain embodiments of the present invention can facilitate the exchange of information (including but not limited to contact information) between user devices (e.g., mobile devices) worn or carried by two different users. The exchange of information can be wholly or partially automated and can occur in response to a device detecting a “greeting 25 event.” In some embodiments, a greeting event is detected when two user devices belonging to different users are in proximity and the users of the devices concurrently execute a greeting gesture, such as a handshake, bow, hand slap, hug, or the like.

While the Apple Watch is the first device we thought of, Apple notes that the application could work with many wearable devices such as “a watch, a ring, a bracelet, a necklace, or any other jewelry item; an item of eyewear, a headband; a belt, a shoe, a scarf, a best, or any other article of clothing.” Apple describes using either Bluetooth LE or NFC, both of which are already built-into Apple Watch, in order to make a connection between devices and facilitate a data exchange when a gesture is recognized.

It’s a feature that’s already possible with our smartphones using Bluetooth and/or NFC and third-party apps, albeit without the use of the handshake gesture that makes a lot of sense for an Apple Watch or other wearable. Apple’s own AirDrop feature for Macs and iOS devices, for example, allows users to share content with nearby devices, so it wouldn’t be too surprising to see that same branding come to Apple Watch and integrate with AirDrop on other Apple devices.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel


  1. chrisl84 - 8 years ago

    So thats why Apple bumped iCloud contacts to 50,000 everyone we accidentally touch is going to be added for us

  2. godrifle - 8 years ago

    Wearers will have to switch to the right, as that’s typically how handshakes are done. Yet we typically wear our watches on the left.

    • incredibilistic - 8 years ago

      It mentions hugging and the images show high-fiving as well as bowing (Japanese-style) which means there will be more than one way to share info.

      Maybe a fist bump will work too!

      Can’t wait to see the commercials for that. It’ll be similar to the “Us” ad where people are greeting and hugging each other.

  3. Nycko Heimberg - 8 years ago

    And Just Whatsapp answer with Apple watch ?

  4. Dirk Lenz - 8 years ago

    I like the patent drawings ;-)

    • rnc - 8 years ago

      Yeah, it looks like it’s the first time they did that…

  5. Greg Kaplan (@kaplag) - 8 years ago

    I think they need some way to make a separate contact card for passing out. The “me” cards are used for too much personal stuff to hold data that siri uses. If you could create a linked “business card” that only held work info that you could pass to people would be neat.

    This “hand shake” thing would also be awesome way to make peer to peer apple wallet payments.

    But honestly both of these things would be great even without the gesture.


Avatar for Jordan Kahn Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.