Best Apple Watch apps for your smartwatch in 2018
See this original article here
The Apple Watch is onto its third generation now, and the aptly-named Apple Watch 3 is proving pretty popular – so that’s why you’re probably here checking out the new apps.
In fact, it’s one of the best smartwatch options out there, and now we’re at the third generation it’s becoming a particularly accomplished smart option for your wrist.
The number one question we hear from new Apple Watch owners is, “what apps should I download first?” To make answering that query easier, we devised a thorough list of the best Apple Watch apps. With the right choices, your new digital timepiece will become so much more.
Before you get into that though, remember to head into the Apple Watch main app on your iPhone – that’s where you’ll see a list of the apps already installed on your phone that can also be transferred to your Watch. If you see any you like the look of here, you’ll need to download them to your iPhone first.
Make sure you tag the apps you want on your watch – and disable the ones you don’t, as that will take up valuable space you can use to add music onto – especially great if you have the Apple Watch 3 LTE version, and an Apple Music subscription. Looking for games to play on your wrist? Check out our best Apple Watch games list
See our video review of the Apple Watch Series 3 below… New this week: IFTTT IFTTT Free
If This Then That, IFTTT for short, may be one of the most useful things on the internet. As the name suggests, it enables you to create scenarios where if this happens, it does that. And the ‘that’ can include all kinds of things, with a selection of connectors for software and hardware alike.
For example, you can automatically change your thermostat based on the weather forecast, or send someone a message when you’re near the shops, or backup your photo collection to a cloud storage site at a particular time or when a particular event occurs. It’s absolutely brilliant, and the main iPhone app enables you control more than 600 different apps as well as smart home devices such as Hue lights and Nest thermostats.
As you’d expect the Watch app doesn’t do everything. What it does do is provide quick access to IFTTT functions you’ve already installed or created on your phone, so for example you might post a quick tweet or turn your smart lights on or off.
That simplicity is no bad thing, because of course the whole ethos of IFTTT is to reduce the amount of effort you use to communicate with your various bits of technology. Sleep Cycle Free + optional subscription
The App Store isn’t exactly short of sleep tracking apps, but Sleep Cycle offers more than just tracking. It can wake you up at the right point in your sleep cycle so that you jump out of bed like an excited puppy instead of rolling out of it with a woozy head.
That doesn’t mean it’ll start bleeping four hours before you need to get up, though. You set the 30-minute window in which you need to be woken and Sleep Cycle will find the optimum point during that window.
Unusually for a sleep tracker, Sleep Cycle doesn’t expect you to wear your Apple Watch to bed. Instead, it listens to you and detects vibrations from you, and that means it can detect and yell at you if you start snoring.
It’s just like having a partner, except you don’t have to put your partner on a wireless charging mat every night. And because it’s designed to be used by humans, of course there’s a snooze option: if Sleep Cycle wants to wake you and you really don’t want to get out of bed, you can shake or double-tap your phone.
The main app is free but if you want to take advantage of heart rate monitoring, reporting and goodies such as Hue smart lighting integration there’s a subscription service for $29.99/£24.99/AU$39.99 per year. HeartWatch $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49
How’s your heart? If you don’t know the answer, this app can shed some light. It might even save your life, as it did for James Green: the app alerted him about an unusual spike in his heart rate, and it turned out to be a pulmonary embolism. If it weren’t for the alert, Green might well have died.
You don’t really need more of a sales pitch to justify spending three dollars on staying alive, but HeartWatch isn’t a one-trick app. It pulls information from the Watch’s heart rate sensor to track what it’s doing when you wake, when you sleep, when you work out and when you just go about your day.
The reason for the different types of activity is simple: you don’t want your app warning you about elevated heart rate if you’re doing something designed to elevate your heart rate, an issue that used to drive us daft when exercising with our Apple Watch set to the defaults.
It won’t work without the Health app installed – that’s the route by which it gets its data – but you can also import data from other health apps if you use other kinds of connected health monitors. Halide Camera $5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99
The Apple Watch version of Halide is very much the same as the Apple Watch version of Apple’s own Camera app: it’s a viewfinder with a shutter button and a timer that you can use to remotely trigger the iPhone camera. Remote triggering isn’t just a gimmick: it’s useful for taking long exposure shots or just enabling you to be in your own snaps.
The main app has been given a significant upgrade for the latest generation of Apple cameras, and it’s particularly good on the iPhone X where it can take full advantage of the TrueDepth cameras front and rear.
In a nice touch you can export photos’ depth maps as standalone PNGs, which opens up some interesting creative possibilities. The developers have clearly had a lot of fun with the dual sensors, because you can review depth captures and virtually move around the scene in augmented reality. It makes photos feel more like video game locations and it’s a lot of fun.
Halide’s developers have a pedigree: Ben Sandofsky was the iOS tech lead for Twitter, and Sebastiaan de With was a designer at Apple. That might explain why Halide feels so much more organic than some other camera apps, and why it’s such a pleasure to use. Owaves Free
Owaves is an interesting app: it’s a 24-hour day planner that’s designed for people who want to focus on their physical and mental health. That means scheduling and prioritizing me-time and play time as well as work time, a kind of Getting Things Done for the mindfulness generation.
Owaves is based around what it describes as the five key ingredients for a happy life: sleep, nutrition, exercise, relaxation and social interactions. You can still schedule work things, chores and day to day admin, but they’re not the sole focus as you’ll find in other planning apps. The idea is to make room in your life for your life.
The bulk of the action – scheduling events, seeing your entire schedule and so on – happens on your iPhone, and the Watch app has been designed as a companion rather than a replacement: it tells you what’s coming up rather than trying to replicate the main app’s functions.
You can add it as a watch face complication, which is particularly good on the Modular watch face: if you make it the main complication in the center it’s got room to tell you not just what you’ve scheduled now but also what you’ve got happening afterwards. Canary Mail $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99
Canary Mail is a first: it’s the first third-party email app to use the Apple Watch 3’s 4G/LTE connection so you can access your email without lugging your iPhone around.
The feature is officially in beta but if you’re in the market for a new email app it’s a compelling reason to consider Canary over other iPhone email clients. The Watch support delivers short extracts of emails and the ability to quickly reply via scribbling or voice dictation.
The main iPhone app is very good indeed, supporting all the main email providers (including iCloud and, if IMAP’s enabled on the server, Exchange) and enabling you to use PGP, to use natural language search and to bulk-delete irrelevant or spammy emails. It offers email templates for frequently used messages, easy unsubscribing and integration with cloud storage, to-do and calendar services, and the none-more-black interface looks particularly good on the iPhone X’s OLED display.
It’s worth keeping an eye on the price if you’re considering Canary: it’s gone from being offered as a free trial for a few days with in-app purchases to $4.99/£4.99, and then to the current price of $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99. SimpleCommands Free
This is an intriguing one. SimpleCommands enables you to connect your Apple Watch to various other devices – LIFX lights, TP-link switches, Wink doors, Nest thermometers, Netatmo home automation and so on – and soon, services such as Spotify, Lyft, IFTTT, Todoist and Twitter.
Once you’ve established a connection, you can then control that connection via your iPhone or Watch (you need to set them up in the iPhone app first). Your Watch then becomes what the developer calls a listener.
All you then need to do to make something happen is tell the listener what to do. The main benefit is that to paraphrase Radiohead, everything’s in its right place: whether it’s your aircon or your lighting system, it’s all done from a single app on your wrist.
Brilliant, right? Well, potentially. The list of coming soon connections is longer than the list of currently supported ones, and early adopters say it’s a bit flaky: we’re still in version one-point-something territory, so you should expect bugs.
But if you’re fed up having to use different apps to control every different digital thing in your life, this could be the thing to make your digital life much more comfortable. One Drop Diabetes Management Free
We’re increasingly excited about HealthKit, Apple’s framework for health monitoring apps: we’ve already seen apps that can warn of rare but potentially lethal heart conditions , and now we’re seeing a whole host of specialist apps that can integrate with specific monitoring hardware to help with particular conditions. As the name suggests, this one’s for people with diabetes.
One Drop makes Chrome, a Bluetooth blood glucose meter that’s sold as a package with testing strips. If you have the meter the app gets information from each test, but if you don’t it’s still a useful app to help monitor your diabetes.
The app enables you to log your activity, your food intake and your medication and to share that information with HealthKit and the Health app (if that’s what you want to do). As ever the main iPhone app is where all the detail is, with the Watch app taking care of quick data recording and progress notifications.
The iPhone app builds on the basics with a database of foods’ nutritional information, historical data, insulin pump data and the ability to schedule reminders for your medication. FiLMiC Pro $14.99/£14.99/AU$22.99 plus in-app purchases
Here’s an odd one: FiLMiC Pro has a distinctly average App Store rating of 2.3 out of 5 at time of writing, and yet the developers’ shelves are groaning under the weight of the app’s many awards from reputable websites and publications who say that for video, it’s the best thing since bread came sliced. What’s going on?
The short answer is that when you have hardly any reviews, one or two disgruntled users can send your rating down the drain. That’s clearly what’s happening here.
Negatives first. FiLMiC Pro costs more money than many apps, and it can kill your phone battery in prolonged use. But it’s an incredibly powerful iOS camera app used by film-makers, journalists and hobbyists alike. Pair it with a decent editor and your iPhone is a pro-level film studio.
The Watch app is really just a remote for the main event. You can record, pause and resume your recording and see what the phone camera’s pointing at, and you can play back what you’ve just recorded. It’s not really different from Apple’s own camera Watch app. But the app it connects to is a powerhouse: people complaining about the price tag should really be marveling that it’s possible to get something so good for so little money. Calzy 3 $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99
We’ve raved about the excellent PCalc calculator app, but Calzy is a worthy rival. The latest version, version 3, is a significant redesign that’s been optimized for iOS 11.
The most obvious difference is that the operators – plus, minus and so on – are on the same screen as the numbers, and that means it’s much faster to carry out multiple calculations, provided your fingers are fairly accurate: more buttons means a smaller tap area for each one.
It also shows you the running total as you go along, so for example if you’re doing a calculation where it’s this plus that times whatever you’ll see the results as you tap. It’s not as comprehensive as PCalc, but if all you need is a straightforward calculator on your wrist it’s a good bit cheaper.
The main iPhone app, as you might expect, does a lot more than the Watch app. It has light and dark themes, a customizable keypad, Handoff support and even a searchable history of every calculation you’ve made. It also offers currency rounding to keep numbers to two decimal places, and you can tap and hold to edit part of a formula if you realize you’ve made a mistake halfway through. App in the Air Free with in-app purchases
We love a good pun, and App in the Air is a good one. It promises to be your personal flying assistant, and while it doesn’t actually fly it’s a useful assistant for anybody who does. It tracks all the information you need to know: what gate to go to, when you need to go there, how much time you’ve got before they shut the doors and, in the US, how to find the damn gate in the first place.
The Watch app takes care of providing essential information while the main iPhone app also tracks loyalty points, flight history (including TripIt integration), live status changes and anything else you might need to know. It even works where there isn’t a data connection, by sending status updates via SMS, and you can amuse yourself by calculating how many miles you’ve flown and how many different airports you’ve visited.
The catch is that the best bits are subscription services: if you want real-time flight status updates you’ll need the $26.99/£25.99/AU$41.99 annual subscription. That’s not expensive if you fly a lot, but it does mean the app is less immediately exciting to those of us who aren’t frequent flyers. WorkOutDoors $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49
If your idea of good exercise involves going far from the madding crowds, you’ll like WorkOutDoors. It’s a workout app that’s based around vector maps that you can easily rotate and zoom, tracking your location and your progress.
It uses the Watch’s GPS (if you have a GPS-enabled Watch) so there’s no need to take your phone on a hike, cycle or snowboard run, and features such as breadcrumb tracking, custom points of interest and customizable stats displays enable you to make the app truly your own.
In a nice touch you can export your workouts from the iPhone app in GPX format, which can be imported into many other workout apps and sites.
It’s very, very well thought out. For example, something as simple as the stats display is available in a variety of sizes to suit different kinds of activity (not to mention different levels of eyesight).
It makes good use of color-coding to make routes crystal clear, waypoints can provide extra information such as directions, and the map automatically rotates as you move so you’re always sure of the right direction. It’s a brilliant app for pretty much any outdoor activity. Streaks $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99
The trick to living better isn’t to damn near kill yourself on a treadmill and then give up after a few weeks. It’s to make smaller, lasting changes to your life, changes that you can and will actually stick to. And that’s what Streaks offers.
Whether you’re trying to eat more healthily, exercise more or break a smoking habit, Streaks enables you to track positive and negative habits. It offers a range of reporting tools so you can see exactly how well you’re doing, and you can track up to 12 different tasks at once.
They needn’t be exercise or eating tasks: you can remind yourself to walk the dog, study, take vitamins or practice a musical instrument. It’s good to see wheelchair users included in the default tasks list too.
Where Streaks really shines is in its integration with the Health app, which enables it to pull data to use for monitoring suitable targets you’ve set. That reduces a lot of the form-filling of similar apps, and it’s particularly effective if you’re trying to work on good healthy habits or eliminate unhealthy ones, or both.
There’s a Complication too, so that you don’t forget your goals, and the whole thing is customizable so that you can get it just-so. Sleep Watch $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49
The massively improved battery life of the current generation Apple Watch makes it much better for sleep tracking: you can now wear your Watch in bed, pop it off while you get ready for work or school and leave home with a full charge for getting on with your day.
And that means there’s been an influx of new sleep apps, many of which take the basic idea of sleep monitoring and add additional reporting and insight.
When you use Sleep Watch you’ll get used to the daily question, how well rested do you feel? The app tracks that as well as your heart rate and the quality of your sleep to give an indication of how good or otherwise your sleep has been.
It offers daily sleep briefings (we’d love an abusive CARROT-style AI for the days when the report clearly says we’re knackered) and trend analysis, and it highlights whether your heart rate is dropping normally during rest – a potential warning sign if it isn’t.
It’d be good if we could also add blame, such as a heavy night out causing us to get up all through the night, but maybe that’ll be in a future version. djay 2 $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99
We’re big fans of Algoriddim’s clever DJ app, and it’s a particularly fun thing to have on your iPhone: its clever algorithms and straightforward interface make it easy to mix like the pros, its Spotify Premium integration means your DJ box is almost infinite and its Automix feature does a really good job of working out the best places to transition and the right fades and effects to apply.
But sometimes you want to take part without necessarily firing up the full djay app on your phone, for example if you’re in party mode and want to quickly change tracks or just show off a bit.
Enter the Apple Watch app, which enables you to DJ in much the same way as you would if you were a giant in a world of really tiny people: don’t expect to do much scratching, but you can fade from one track to another, pause and sync, add special effects or turn Automix on and off. It’s effectively Apple Music’s watch integration brought to the world of DJing, and that means it’s an absolute hoot.
The watch integration is little more than a remote control, but that’s okay: the main app is really clever and enormous fun. Aaptiv Free with IAPs
If you’re anything like us you’ve probably been in the situation of committing to an expensive gym membership, only to lose motivation after a few weeks and be stuck waiting until you’re finally allowed to cancel. It’s a costly mistake. Wouldn’t it be better to have a membership that’s shorter – and cheaper if you do decide to stick with it?
That’s where Aaptiv comes in. The app itself is free but it comes with a range of in-app purchases for extra workouts.
It’s been available on the iPhone for a while, but the introduction of an Apple Watch companion app makes it that bit more useful: workouts you’ve downloaded to your iPhone can now be taken out and about on your Apple Watch while you leave your phone behind. It’s functional rather than pretty – the iPhone app is really rather lovely – but it does the job very well.
The app itself is based around audio fitness classes, which are grouped into categories such as running, strength training, rowing and even yoga. There are more than 2,500 different workouts and new classes added each week, and you’ll find specific programs for marathon, half marathon, 10K and 5K training too. If you’re considering a gym membership it might be smart to try this on your Watch first. Runeblade Free
Some words don’t tend to appear together very often. “Donald Trump” alongside “uncontroversial tweet,” for example. “Large building project” and “on time and within budget”. Or maybe “Award winning fantasy adventure game” and “Apple Watch”.
Yes, really, you can get an award winning fantasy adventure game on your watch – and you don’t even have to pay any money for it to start playing.
That said, the big list of really expensive in-app purchases down the side of the App Store listing – thirteen bucks for a Ring of Resurgence, twenty bucks for 2,800 Diamonds – makes us wonder just how many of the 2,000 levels you’ll see without paying money.
The game itself is a bit simpler than a typical RPG, because a watch is a bit simpler than a smartphone. There’s precious little hacking and slashing; instead, it’s all about tapping. Monsters are vanquished with fatal tapping, money is amassed by more tapping, and the money you amass can be used to buy runes that make your taps more powerful.
And that’s about it. It’s a handy little escape for when you have a few minutes to kill, and while it isn’t going to change your life it can liven up the odd bus journey. Circa $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99
It’s not a surprise that the Apple Watch attracts a lot of apps built around the idea of time, but few of them are as simple and as useful as Circa. It’s designed for global travellers or people whose life involves communicating with people around the world, and answers a simple and important question: is this a good time?
It may be a simple question, but it’s often a tough question to answer. If you’ve ever tried to find a time for a virtual meeting that works not just for you and your local colleagues but for colleagues halfway across the world you’ll know how much of a pain in the neck it can be.
Are they EST or PST? Are they behind us or ahead of us? Circa remembers these things so you don’t have to, offering crystal clear guides to when people are going to be available and when they should be in their bed.
It’s a niche app, but many of the very best Apple Watch apps are: it’s simple, beautifully designed and does exactly what it sets out to do. If you need this kind of thing, this is exactly what you need. CARROT Weather $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99
We’ve mentioned CARROT Weather before: it’s our go-to app when we want the weather forecast delivered by a hyper-intelligent artificial entity that wishes we were dead. In this massive update the app becomes even more horrible, and we mean that in a good way.
There are complications for your Apple Watch face as well as a completely misanthropic Watch app with all the weather information you could possibly need, displayed silently or spoken aloud depending on your preferences.
We particularly like the way you can specify just how horrible CARROT is to you, along with its political leanings. And on the accompanying iPhone app there’s a really fun feature that uses Apple’s ARKit to bring the forecast into augmented reality.
The developers are upfront about their pricing: if you want to use Weather Underground data instead of the default Dark Sky and take advantage of its radar pictures too, those features cost the devs extra money so you’ll need to pay another $9.99/£8.99/AU$14.49 per year for the Ultrapremium Club in-app purchase.
There’s also a cheaper Premium Club ($3.99/£3.49/AU$5.49pa) that enables you to customize the complications, to receive weather alerts and to have background data updates. It’s worth it. Camera Plus $0.99/£0.99/AU$1.49
While using Apple’s Watch as a remote control or viewfinder can be handy – we can’t be the only ones who use it to see what’s on top of cupboards or to read the meters when there’s loads of stuff between them and us – the app has always felt as if it could do more. That’s where Camera Plus comes in.
As an iPhone/iPad app it’s an interesting and fun alternative to the iOS 11 default, with a useful feature that enables you to control the camera on one iOS device with the Camera Plus app on another. It adds an extra function to the Watch too.
The Apple Watch bit is obviously a lot less ambitious, but it’s still useful. As with the Apple app, you can remote control the iPhone or iPad camera, turn the flash on or off, use a countdown timer and switch between the front and rear cameras. But where the Apple app offers the ability to turn Live Photos on or off, Camera Plus gives you the option to switch between photo and video.
The main iOS app is clearly the driver here, with some fun and useful features including flexible flash levels for better exposure and the aforementioned iOS-to-iOS remote control. But the Watch app is a handy, or perhaps wristy, companion. Apple Heart Study Free (US only)
Apple is positioning the Apple Watch not just as a handy gadget but as something that can save your life, and the Apple Heart Study app is designed to do just that.
It’s been created in collaboration with Stanford Medicine to monitor your heart rhythms and identify any irregularities, such as the potentially very serious condition AFib (atrial fibrillation).
AFib is a common cause of blood clots and heart failure, and it can also cause strokes. Despite affecting millions of people it’s often undetected because the symptoms aren’t obvious to us. They can be obvious to the heart rate sensor in our Apple Watches, though.
In practice, the Heart Study app tells you when it spots an irregular rhythm – it’s not the same as the heart rate monitor already in the watch, which tends to pop up unwanted warnings when we’re jumping around with the kids because we’re fantastically unfit.
The study app only tells you of things you need to know. Participation in the actual study is voluntary, but if you join you can receive a free video consultation about any detected irregularity.
However, the study is US only. If you’re outside the US, try the Cardiogram app instead, as it too monitors for irregularities. Transit Free
Transit is mainly for American users, but its city coverage extends to more than 50 non-US cities including London and Paris too. It’s a public transport app, and it works on a simple and largely accurate assumption: when you use the app, you’re in a hurry.
That means instant information for departures on nearby routes and a Take Me Home button that tells you how to get home as quickly and simply as possible. In a single screen it offers directions, details of the station, the next three departures and the number of the service.
Public transport tends to bring out the best in designers – think the simple genius of the London Underground map or the colorful signage on the New York subway – and that’s definitely the case here.
Transit makes excellent use of color and typography to provide all the information you need in a very effective way.
It may only shave a few seconds off your travel time, but if you’ve ever harbored dark thoughts when someone at the gate in front of you is wasting time you’ll know that for commuters, every single second counts. If you spend a lot of time traveling, you’ll save a lot of time with Transit. OneNote Free
If there’s one thing the App Store isn’t short of, it’s note-taking apps. But it’s worth taking a look at OneNote, especially if you work across a range of Mac and PC devices, because as it syncs via Microsoft’s cloud, it’s a very good cross-platform app with particularly well-designed iPhone, iPad and Mac apps to organize pretty much everything.
We use it for shopping lists, to-do lists, random scribbled ideas in the wee small hours and anything else we think we might need to refer to later, and unlike some rival cross-platform services it’s completely free. Microsoft hopes you’ll like it so much you’ll embrace Office, which is available for a very low price as part of a premium OneDrive plan.
Microsoft has become rather good at keeping its Watch apps simple, and OneNote is no exception: tap the cross icon to dictate a new note, or tap a notebook or note to see its contents.
And that’s pretty much all it does – and that’s all it needs to do, because any watch screen is poorly suited to complex tasks. We’d much rather have speed and simplicity than any ill-conceived bells and whistles. Misfit Free
The Misfit app is designed to connect to the firm’s various wearable health monitors and third-party devices from the likes of Swarovski and Speedo, but it’s a useful Watch app in its own right too even if you don’t have any other wearable devices.
It can use your Watch’s sensors to track activity, but the USP here is its integrated workouts for people in a hurry. When it was first introduced it was called Misfit Minute, but it’s since been renamed to plain old Misfit.
Inside the app there are workouts designed to last 1, 4 and 7 minutes respectively, covering strength training and cardio. One minute doesn’t sound particularly strenuous but you’ll be surprised: the app appears to be haunted by the ghost of a particularly sadistic circuit training coach, and you’ll definitely feel the seven-minute workout across your body.
The app also tries to motivate you during your workout –“Pain is weakness leaving the body” and that kind of thing – and it promises that no two workouts are alike, although realistically if you get bored during a one-minute workout you might need more motivation than any app can offer. Epicurious Smart Timer Free
The food site Epicurious isn’t scared of technology: it attempted to make a recipe app for Google Glass (although that didn’t quite work out). Its Watch efforts are much more successful, with the Watch doing what watches do best: timing. Think of it as an egg timer that can do more than eggs.
Using the app is simple. Choose the kind of food you want to time, such as a roast chicken or a steak, and tell the app how heavy it is and, where appropriate, how well done you want it to be. The timer lets you know when to flip or remove it from the heat.
It then tells you what to do, so for example in the case of your steak you’re urged to let it rest for five minutes and then slice across the grain. You’ll also see photos so you can compare what your food looks like with what it should look like.
It’s not the most comprehensive app around, but it isn’t supposed to be: it’s designed for relatively inexperienced cooks and the 40-odd items it does know about cover all the basics. If you’re unsure of cooking times or just easily distracted, it’s a great app to have. Night Sky Free
Night Sky is one of those gee-whiz apps that you use to show off your iPhone, and the introduction of a complication to let you know if the International Space Station was overhead was cute in a geeky way.
But the arrival of watchOS 4 has given the developers plenty of new toys to play with, and that means Night Sky is now one of those gee-whiz apps you use to show off your Apple Watch.
With this version of the app, your Watch now gets the same Sky Tracking features as the iPhone app has: you can now raise your wrist and identify the stars, planets and constellations around you.
There’s a time travel feature too, so you can track how the various heavenly bodies will move. It’s enormously clever and very impressive, and the main iPhone app isn’t bad either, as its Sky View knows of 115,000 celestial objects and enables you to increase or decrease light pollution, explore animated 3D models and customize notifications.
If you sign up for the $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99 monthly premium subscription you get access to worldwide sky tours that you can save for future use – for example if you’re planning to visit a particular location in the near future. V for Wikipedia Free
We know what you’re thinking: surely it should be W for Wikipedia? V was formerly known as Viki, but had to be renamed due to a trademark issue. No matter what it’s called, it’s a really useful Apple Watch app: it brings relevant Wikipedia content to wherever you are.
For example, you might want to know the history of a public landmark, or to discover what’s nearby. V presents the information in a clear and straightforward manner, it uses dictation and 3D Touch to good effect and it uses Handoff for longer entries that are better suited to your phone’s larger screen.
The developers have clearly thought about how people would actually use the app: you can call up V from a complication, use voice search to find a place, bookmark it with 3D touch and pick it up on the iPhone later. That simplicity means it’s an app you’ll actually use rather than one that’ll gather digital dust in your apps list.
It’s exceptional on the iPhone too, taking the rather dull design of Wikipedia and replacing it with something much more pleasing. No wonder it’s picked up awards including a Gold German Design Award and Apple’s App Store Best of 2016. Cardiogram Free
Your Apple Watch monitors your heart rate every five minutes, which is clever. But what do the numbers actually mean, and are they actually useful? Cardiogram wants to explain, and to do something important: help fight one of the most common kinds of heart arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation (AF).
Its Apple Watch app uses an algorithm that can identify the tell-tale signs of AF, something that’s treatable but that often goes undiagnosed.
Cardiogram isn’t just about detecting AF, as important as that is. It wants to make your health data useful, so it can tell you whether you’re sleeping properly (assuming you’re able to wear rather than charge your watch overnight), whether your resting heart rate is low enough, how well your heart recovers after exercise, and what makes your stress levels spike. It’s a workout tracker too.
The data the Watch app generates is best experienced on your iPhone, where the app provides crucial information and trends in the form of clear and colorful graphs. In the future it will know how to recognise more medical conditions too.
The potential is enormous: by combining (anonymous) data from thousands of Apple Watch owners, Cardiogram’s developers hope to use Big Data to help people live better, longer lives. How’s that for ambition? MySwimPro Free
This is a tale of two apps, depending on which version of Apple Watch you have. If yours is a first-generation model then it’s a useful but limited way to track your swimming stats: the first-gen watch shouldn’t be submerged, so you shouldn’t wear it while swimming.
However, if you have a second-generation Apple Watch (Apple calls it the Apple Watch Series 2) then you can take it into the pool – and that makes MySwimPro a much more useful application. You can log your workouts while you’re still in the water, and you can also follow the app’s workouts to set goals and monitor your heart rate during your swim.
Once you’ve dried off you can pick up the iPhone or iPad app, which syncs data from your Watch and enables you to see your progress in much more detail: miles swum, hours spent swimming, top times for specific distances and so on.
You can share your triumphs online, or you can just watch videos showing how other swimmers do particular types of workout. It’s probably overkill if you only do the odd couple of laps at the gym swimming pool, but if you’re serious about swimming it’s worth wearing on your wrist. Just Eat Free
Proving that you should never underestimate our basic laziness, Just Eat created an app for people who couldn’t be bothered using the telephone to call for a takeaway. Now, it’s added an app for people who can’t be bothered reaching for their iPhone to open the Just Eat app.
One day historians may look back on this as one of the key steps in the downfall of western civilisation. Then again, easy pizza!
The Just Eat app is UK-only – if you’re in the US, try the Domino’s Apple Watch app instead – and it enables you to choose, order and pay for takeaways from the comfort of your wrist thanks to Apple Pay integration.
You can also choose to collect instead of having the meal delivered, but let’s be honest: if you can’t be bothered getting your phone you’re hardly going to want to go outside to collect your food – although if you’re driving it’s handy to order a pickup with a few taps.
The main iPhone/iPad app is much more attractive and informative, but when it comes to ordering regulars from your favorite local takeaways it doesn’t get much easier than having Just Eat on your wrist. A Tiny Game of Pong $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99
Sometimes the titles do all the work for us: yes, A Tiny Game of Pong puts a tiny game of Pong on your Apple Watch.
If you’re not familiar with Pong, perhaps because you aren’t really, really old, it was one of the first video games and was released in November 1972. The fact that it’s still playable – and quickly becomes frustratingly difficult – just demonstrates what a classic game it really is.
If you’re new to Pong, the gameplay is very simple: there are two paddles, one of which you control with the Digital Crown, and there’s a ball, which you try not to miss when the other paddle hits it towards you. The more times you don’t miss, the better your score. And that’s pretty much it.
There’s an in-app purchase that unlocks extra colors, which you can also unlock by posting about the game on social media, and there are high score tables that work via Game Center. But ultimately what you get is exactly what the title describes: a tiny game of Pong. Yahoo Weather Free
Dark Sky and CARROT Weather get all the reviews, but Yahoo’s weather app is a lovely thing on the Apple Watch.
It takes the same colorful, minimalist approach as the iPhone/iPad app, with screens showing trend lines for temperature, precipitation and wind speed, along with sunrise and sunset times and where the sun is right now, whether it’s going to rain and what the temperature highs and lows will be.
You don’t get the right-now weather warnings of Dark Sky or the sass of CARROT, just a clear, easy to understand and really well-presented set of predictions.
It’s not all sunshine and flowers, though. The host app is pretty big – 137MB, which is on the large side for a weather app, given that the UK Met Office app is 80MB and Dark Sky 20.8MB – and the accuracy of the weather forecasts seems to depend on where you live.
US users seem very happy with it, but UK users say it’s a little pessimistic: while it rains a lot in Britain, it doesn’t rain quite as often as Yahoo Weather says it will.
Then again, it’s better to warn of rain and be pleasantly surprised than to predict good weather when the skies are about to open. Workflow Free
Workflow is an absolutely fascinating app, recently acquired by Apple. If you’re familiar with OS X’s Automator it’s a bit like that but much more user-friendly and focused, and for iOS. And if you’re not, you’re going to like it a lot.
Workflow essentially turns your iPhone or iPad’s features into LEGO. You can take bricks from app X, combine them with bricks from app Y, and have a new toy to play with.
For example, you could create a workflow that takes your most recent photos and saves them to Dropbox, or a workflow that offers one-tap information on where the nearest coffee shop is, or that tweets the song you’re listening to. It’s absolutely brilliant and now it’s available on your Watch.
As you might expect, Workflow on the Watch doesn’t offer any creation tools: it’s purely a launcher in Watch form, allowing you to call up your workflows with a tap.
You might have a workflow to give you directions home from wherever you are, or to calculate a tip in a restaurant, or to read out your messages. It’s the kind of app you can’t imagine using, and then you use it and can’t imagine going without it. Twitterrific Free / In-app purchases for full feature set
There are lots of reasons to love Twitter, but there are lots of reasons to find it annoying too. Promoted tweets filling your timeline, people talking about subjects you couldn’t care less about, people retweeting people you couldn’t care less about, Piers Morgan… wouldn’t it be great if you could have a Twitter without all of those things? Don’t look to the official app for that any time soon. Go for Twitterrific instead.
Now in its fifth incarnation, Twitterrific on iOS is a superb Twitter tool. The Watch features require a $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49 in-app purchase to work fully, and they’re worth paying for: you can track your stats, be notified about direct messages, favorites, new followers and other action, use Handoff to start replies on your phone, compose tweets via dictation and block idiots instantly.
We’d recommend keeping notifications to an absolute minimum unless you only follow a few people – Twitter can be incredibly noisy when you follow and/or are followed by lots of people – but the Watch app is a great way of staying on top of Twitter while you’re out and about. It also reduces the risk of picking up your phone and thinking “while I’m here I’ll just check…” and losing hours to trivia. Keynote Free
If you deliver a lot of presentations tied to a computer or iPad you might watch Apple keynotes with envy. Wouldn’t it be great if you could stride around the room like that, surreptitiously tapping a button to move to the next slide instead of hovering over your hardware?
There are plenty of electronic clickers to do just that, but why get another bit of hardware you’ll probably lose when you can control Keynote from your Apple Watch?
Don’t expect speakers’ notes, views of upcoming slides or other presentation app goodies: the Watch app is designed simply to play presentations and move to the next slide when tapped. Everything else happens on devices more suited to editing: your phone, or your iPad.
And provided there’s decent Wi-Fi or you’re close enough to the presenting iPad or iPhone for Bluetooth it works really well. It’s surprisingly functional-looking for an Apple app – it isn’t remotely pretty, and looks like it was designed in a tea break – but then how much design do you really need when you’re using your Watch as a clicker?
Do you prefer Office to Apple’s apps? Microsoft has a PowerPoint app for the Watch AeroPress Timer $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99
You can’t get much more hipster than this: an Apple Watch app for the AeroPress coffee maker, enabling you to use a gadget costing hundreds of dollars to work out how to make a cup of coffee.
But while it’s easy to mock it’s actually a really useful and well-designed app, assuming of course you have an AeroPress. It’s the kind of thing that watch apps excel at: it does one thing, and it does that thing very well.
AeroPress Timer’s thing is to help you make the perfect cup of coffee. The app features coffee recipes from the 2014 AeroPress world championship, and takes you step by step through the process for each: how much coffee to use, when to stir, when to steep, and when it’s time to take a sip of your masterpiece.
It’s not just about fancy award competitors either: the app also includes the instructions you need to make standard recipes, two cup recipes and to improve your brewing prowess in general.
If you’re the kind of person whose eyeballs are vibrating with caffeine by lunchtime, you’re going to love the convenience of having everything you need to hand. Or rather, on your wrist. Pennies $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99
Pennies was a recent Apple Editor’s Choice, for good reason: it’s a very simple and effective budgeting app that allows you to get on top of your spending without having to spend too much time doing so.
You can set weekly, monthly, bi-weekly, bi-monthly, one-off and custom budgets, track in multiple currencies – great for holidays or business travel – and on the Watch, all you need to do is record how much you’ve spent against a particular budget, so for example if you have a shopping budget you’d tap it, tap Spend, and then enter the total.
The app then recalculates the amount you’ve got left, and if you wish you can have it displayed as a permanent Complication on the Watch face.
Pennies isn’t interested in what you’ve bought; just what budget it should be allocated to. As the developer puts it, “it’s all about keeping things easy and flexible so you can get on with having fun, spending what you want, and saving money at the end of the month.”
If like us you find personal finance a mix of tedium and terror, Pennies might be the app that helps you take control of your cash. Deliveries $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99
Is there anything more annoying than missing a delivery of something you’re really excited about? Yes: there’s missing a delivery of something that you really need to have in a hurry. Deliveries can help ensure that neither of those things happen to you.
It supports stacks of services including UPS, FedEx, US Postal Service, DHL, TNT, Canada Post, City Link and Royal Mail, can track packages, can add delivery dates to your calendar and can record past deliveries in case you need to refer to them later.
It’s unnecessary for the odd package, but it’s useful if you do a lot of online shopping or if you’re in the middle of a project, such as furnishing a flat.
On the Watch the app acts as a ready reminder of what’s in and what’s incoming, so for example it’ll show you if an item has just been delivered as well as the ETA of any other outstanding deliveries.
There’s a Complication too, which works particularly well on the Utility watch face and shows you the most recent delivery. If you have the macOS version of the app too you can automatically sync between Mac and mobile via iCloud or the developer’s own cloud sync service. Clicker Free
We’ve described the iPhone as the Very Hungry Caterpillar of tech, munching its way through entire product categories as stand-alone devices become iOS apps. We’re often delighted by the simplest things, and Clicker is one of those things.
It’s a replacement for those hand-held clickers people use to count things, and it’s appropriate for counting people, days, laps, drinks or anything else you might want to quantify.
To use it, just tap on the screen and tap again when you want another click. Haptic feedback means you don’t need to look at the watch, and you don’t need to have the clicker display all day: when you’re ready for a new click you can pull it up from its Complication. You can record up to 2,147,483,647 taps.
And that’s pretty much it: there are only two other options: subtract, to remove a mistaken click, and reset, to start again.
It’s hardly a must-have but it’s actually very handy, so for example we’ve seen users tracking how often they smoke during the day or how many glasses of water they’ve had. We wouldn’t recommend using it for counting sheep, though – or at least, not on the first-generation Apple Watch, whose battery isn’t really up to working nights. Elevate Free
We’re not convinced by the supposed science of brain training – it’s a sector that makes bold claims based on very flimsy evidence – but there’s no doubt that spending time learning or practicing useful things is better for you than mindlessly swiping through trivia on Twitter.
Elevate claims that its brain training app will “improve critical cognitive skills that are proven to boost productivity, earning power, and self-confidence”, and it does so by setting little tasks for you: choosing the correct meaning of words, calculating percentages and so on.
Correct answers earn points, and you can track your progress on the main iPhone/iPad app as well as on your Watch. The Watch’s small screen means the games you get are very simple ones, but that works well when you’re on the move.
The app is free and lets you play 4 mini-games. If you want to access the full selection of 40+ Elevate games you’ll need your iPhone or iPad and a subscription to the premium membership package, which is $4.99/£3.99/AU$7.99 per month or $44.99/£34.99/AU$69.99 per year.
If you could do with a boost to specific skills – working out restaurant tips, perhaps, or improving your vocabulary – then you might feel that’s well worth the money. CARROT Fit $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99
You may know CARROT from its weather app, which combines Dark Sky-style weather forecasting with sarcasm and lies. But CARROT wants to make you unhappy in many other ways – and what’s better for a sadistic AI than being in control of a fitness app?
Enter CARROT Fit, which takes a somewhat unusual approach to motivating you to get healthier and lose weight.
CARROT promises to “get you fit – or else”. To achieve that it offers a dozen punishing exercises (more are available via in-app purchases) accompanied by threats, ridicule, bribes and the occasional compliment.
It’s rude, crude and much more entertaining than trying to complete the rings on Apple’s own activity tracker, and we’re pretty sure it’s the only fitness app that rewards progress with cat facts. But there’s a proper fitness tracker in here too: it’ll track your steps and weight loss, remember your workouts and add data to Apple’s health app.
Most of the personality is in the main iPhone app, but the Watch alerts include such cheery prospects as “seven minutes in hell”. If you find getting fit or losing weight a little bit tedious, CARROT might be the, ahem, carrot that you need to get motivated. Knock $5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99
Passwords are essential, but they’re also rubbish. The ones you can remember are easy to guess, the ones that are hard to guess are equally hard to remember, and if you do passwords properly it can be a pain to enter complicated strings of text and characters when you’re in a hurry.
Wouldn’t it be better if you could prove your identity to your Mac with your Watch? That’s exactly what Knock does.
Knock is a simple idea brilliantly executed. Provided your Mac is of relatively recent vintage – an Air from 2011 or better, a MacBook Pro or iMac from late 2012, a 2013 or later Mac Pro and so on – you can use Knock to automatically unlock your Mac or Macs by tapping the Apple Watch app.
It’s connecting via Bluetooth Low Energy – hence the reliance on relatively recent Macs; older ones don’t have Bluetooth LE – which uses tiny amounts of energy, so you don’t need to worry about the app killing your Watch’s battery any more than usual, and it works instantly if your Mac isn’t in sleep mode.
It may seem quite pricey for such a simple app, but think about how much time you spend locking and unlocking your Macs in a year.
Note that you may not need this if you have a recent Mac running macOS Sierra, as there’s a similar feature built in, but Knock is compatible with slightly older Macs too. Buy Me A Pie! $24.99/£23.99/AU$38.99
When we first got an Apple Watch we thought we’d use it for everything, but years later we’re still using Post-It notes when we go to the supermarket.
That’s mainly because list apps are often overkill for something as straightforward as a shopping list – so can the excellently-named and quite expensive Buy Me A Pie! app finally persuade us to leave the sticky notes at home?
User reviews certainly think so: it’s had nearly 3,000 ratings, averaging four and a half stars.
On the iPhone the app offers flat design and color coding, which by necessity has to be adapted for the Watch: the colored lozenges of the iPhone app are replaced with little colored lines beside items.
But the key feature here isn’t the appearance: it’s synchronization. Buy Me A Pie! syncs across all your iOS devices, so your partner could add an item to your shopping list on their iPad and have it automatically sync to your Watch along with a push notification.
It supports location-based reminders, stores multiple lists and has a learning function that automatically stores unfamiliar items in the app’s dictionary for future use. It’s very good at what it does, although it’s rather pricey if you only do the occasional big shop. Happier Free
Mindfulness, the art of focusing on being present and aware in the world instead of being constantly distracted by things and thoughts that don’t matter, isn’t something you’d associate with the Apple Watch. If you aren’t careful with your notification settings your Watch pings away merrily all day, interrupting countless trains of thought.
But the Happier app hopes to use the Watch to make you feel better, not more harassed.
The app itself is free, but it’s designed as a gateway to paid-for mindfulness courses. If you don’t go for them you can still take advantage of the app, though. You can tell the app how you’re feeling – we suspect “meh” is the most-used option – and it then responds with uplifting quotes to help you feel a bit more optimistic.
It can pop up to remind you to take a meditation break, and you can dictate a positive thought to a private journal or to the Happier community. That’s not as daft as it sounds: there’s some evidence that keeping a journal of positive things can boost your mood over time.
Just be careful what and how you share: one iTunes reviewer says that they were able to locate their private journal with Google. Tamagotchi Classic $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99
Readers of a certain age will remember Tamagotchi, the infuriatingly addictive electronic pets that took over the world in the late 1990s with their incessant demands for care and attention.
And now they’re back! Back! BACK! And this time, they’re on your wrist – which is fitting, because Tamagotchi is apparently a portmanteau of the Japanese words for egg and watch. If you’ve never used your watch to raise a virtual pet, here’s your chance.
This app is the Tamagotchi L.i.f.e Gen1, and it uses the Apple Watch in several ways: when your Tamagotchi wants your attention it’ll pop up on your wrist, you can monitor your Tamagotchi’s health, and you can carry out care actions – such as feeding it a meal or making it go to the toilet.
There are two modes to choose from: toy mode, which recreates the originals, and App Mode, which adds special colors. The app also enables you to put multiple Tamagotchi into a gallery, where you can then take pictures of them, and save said digital snaps to your Camera Roll.
It’s spectacularly pointless, of course, but it’s also pretty cute and faithful to the original toys – so it’s an app for rose-tinted spectacle wearers as well as for people who’ve never encountered Tamagotchi before. VLC Remote $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99
As you’ve probably guessed, this app is a remote control for VLC. If you’re not familiar with those initials they belong to one of our very favorite apps, the VLC media player.
It’s a kind of Swiss Army Knife for playing or streaming music and video, and it’s available on iOS and on desktop computers too. We love it for many reasons: it’s fast, it’s free and it can read media formats most of us forgot ever existed.
The remote app solves a simple problem with computer media playback: if you’re on the sofa you probably aren’t anywhere near the computer that’s got all your media files on it.
It works with VLC on Mac, Linux or Windows, automatically finds any running copy of VLC on your local network and enables you to control the on-screen action with your phone.
The Watch app reduces that to bare bones: it gives you volume and transport controls, shows cover art and offers additional options – repeat, shuffle, audio on/off and subtitles on/off – via Force Touch.
If you’ve made VLC the heart of your home entertainment, this app should save you from wearing a path in the carpet between computer and couch. TripIt Free / in-app purchases
Whether you’re a road warrior or an occasional holidayer, keeping track of the various aspects of your trip can be a pain. TripIt solves that by pulling all your travel-related documentation together.
All you need to do is send your travel confirmation emails – flights, hotels, car hire – to TripIt and the app will automatically organize them and tell you the information you need when you need it.
If you use Gmail, Outlook.com or Yahoo mail you can get TripIt to monitor your mailbox automatically, which makes things even easier. If you’re in the US, it even tells you when it’s time to head for the airport.
The phone app stores your itinerary and key documents, and the Watch app lets you know what’s important right now – so if you’re about to board a flight you’ll see the flight number and departure time, if you’re checking in you’ll see a booking reference and so on.
Things get really clever with the Pro subscription ($48.99/£38.99/AU$77.99), which adds live flight notifications, seat tracking and alternative flight finding should your plans change.
That’s probably unnecessary for most people, though: the free version of the app includes all the essentials you need for any kind of travel. Lose It! Free / in-app purchases
If your Watch strap is feeling a little more snug than it used to, this app may be the answer: it’s designed to help you achieve your weight loss goals “without the unsustainable gimmicks, fad diets, restrictive foods, on-site meetings, or large price tags of other weight-loss companies.”
It tracks the calories you’ve consumed and the goals you’ve set, focuses on nutrition as well as overall calorie intake, works happily with other fitness apps and trackers and provides an online peer group where everybody encourages each other to achieve their ideal weight.
It also enables you to set exercise goals and focus on general wellness, so it’s not just about losing weight.
The Apple Watch app doesn’t replace the phone app completely – for example, you’ll need your phone handy if you want to use the barcode scanner to automatically record what you’re eating, and the team-based features such as group challenges are phone-based – but it’s a great way to focus on your goals, monitor your progress and keep your motivation no matter how sorely tempted you may be.
The program is $39.99/£29.99/AU$62.99 per year but you can explore the app for free without signing up. Outlook Free
Microsoft earned well-deserved death stares from many Watch users when it bought and retired the excellent Sunrise Calendar iOS app, but its Outlook app is worth adding to your wrist.
It’s from the new, interesting Microsoft, not the staid bore of old: it works well, looks great and won’t crash your watch.
Outlook is a combined email and calendar app that connects to Microsoft Exchange, Office 365 , Outlook.com, Hotmail, MSN, Gmail, Yahoo and iCloud, and its main claim to fame is the focused inbox: instead of showing you everything emailed, it shows the most important stuff only and learns by watching your swipes.
It’s particularly good in a corporate environment, where its talents cope admirably with endless meeting requests, time changes and backside-covering email traffic, enabling you to prioritize things that matter and forget about things that don’t.
That doesn’t mean it’s only for corporate types, though. Outlook is a really, really good email app and boasts a useful Complication that enables you to see what’s next on your schedule from the main Apple Watch display. If you have a busy life, a busy inbox or both it’s a very useful app to have on your arm. Mount Burnmore Free / in-app purchases
Fitness fanatics look away now: for those that find exercise really boring, and their get up and go often gets up and goes while they stay sedentary. Mount Burnmore could be the answer to that lethargy: it turns fitness into a game.
The concept is quite clever. Mount Burnmore depends on “active energy”, which it pulls from the Health app: the more calories you’ve burned, the more active energy you have in the game.
When you have sufficient energy you can attempt to solve the game’s puzzles, which involve finding routes around the titular mountain, collecting in-game items and smashing things with a pickaxe.
There’s a Complication that enables you to see your progress without launching the full game, and the app makes good use of the Digital Crown to help you navigate around larger levels later in the game. There are also leaderboards to compare with other players and in-game challenges to win freebies.
It’s bright, breezy and a bit brash, and we suspect it’s best suited to older children rather than grown-ups – although if you do give this one to the kids you might want to disable in-app purchases, as they can be used to buy in-game items. ExxonMobil Speedpass+ Free
This one’s US-only for now. It’s a way to pay for fuel and car washes with your Apple Watch via the magic of Apple Pay, and it syncs with Ford SYNC 3 so you can use voice commands in the car too.
You can use it in 10,000 participating Exxon and Mobil stations across the US, and it’s capable of more than just payment: the app records sales for electronic receipts and enables you to manage your loyalty points as well.
It’s really straightforward to use, assuming you’ve got funds in the bank. Just roll up to the pump or automated car wash, pull up the app and tell it which pump you’re parked at. Use the app to approve payment to that pump and then double-tap your watch’s side button to pay with Apple Pay. As soon as you do that, you’re free to pump all day long.
You’ll see more apps like this over time, as many manufacturers are looking into mobile payments, so – for example – Jaguar and Shell in the UK have an Apple pay app for their customers, and fuel companies are keen too: in addition to ExxonMobil, Chevron’s also experimenting with Apple Pay. Babbel Free / in-app purchases
Sometimes the best way to learn new things is to have fun, and that’s particularly true of languages: we can’t remember a taught word of the languages we rote-learned in school, but we can remember all the swear words and rude ones our peers snickered about on the bus home.
Babbel takes a more mature, but no less effective, approach to language learning, using data from the check-in service Foursquare to tell you about nearby words you need to find and translate on its Watch app. For example: you might learn the foreign word for a type of drink when you’re at a coffee shop.
The main iPhone app is more formal but still concentrates on real-world language, so you’re more likely to learn how to ask if somebody’s married or if they want some wine than tell them that your aunt’s pen is in the garden.
It’s proven to be effective and has more than a million subscribers, making it one of the most popular language learning tools around.
Just watch out for those in-app purchases, though: each language pack costs money, but some cost a lot more than others. Sleep Watch $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99
Sleep tracking is an area where the Apple Watch lags due to its charging requirements, and while the second generation Watch does last longer, you can’t keep it on for a week i the vein of some dedicated fitness trackers.
That means any sleep tracking app has to overcome that obstacle, and in the case of Sleep Watch that means making sure you’ve still got 65% battery left at night and Power Reserve off.
You may need to get into the routine of a pre-bed charge if you want to use the app regularly… so decide now if this is an app that could be one of your ‘best’.
Is it worth it? It is if you think your sleep is subpar, as that can make it hard to concentrate and damage your health.
The app is very good at differentiating between deep, restless sleep and cheese-fueled tossing and turning, and version 2’s new trends feature enables you to see if there’s a pattern emerging that suggests a possible cause. The app also tracks your sleeping heart rate, and again you can see if there are trends emerging there.
It’s a clever app but it’s up against the Achilles Heel of the Apple Watch: little smartwatches can’t have big batteries. But if you don’t mind establishing a new charging routine it might just help you sleep a little better more often. Activity Tracker Free / In-App Purchases
This is an interesting one: the pitch is that Activity Tracker doesn’t require you to have a wearable device, but it also boasts about the Apple Watch app that enables you to track your progress.
It’s designed for the iPhone 5S onwards and uses that device’s motion coprocessor to track your progress – even if you have a second generation Apple Watch, which has its own GPS tracker. That means it’s an alternative to Apple’s own Activity app, rather than something bringing features Apple doesn’t already offer, and you’ll still need to take your phone with you.
The main iPhone app is pretty and makes it easy to see your key stats, and the Watch app can help motivate you by showing your steps, burnt calories and distance travelled. The parent app also enables you to set weekly goals and track your progress against them.
The main app is free, but there’s also a $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49 unlock that adds weekly and monthly activity visualizations and the ability to import data from or export data to another iPhone.
It can also pull in data from Apple’s own Health app, which is useful if you’ve been filing your fitness data in that for some time. Free
Yes, we know you might have heard of this one and it’s technically not an app… but did you know that Siri in the Apple Watch became a lot more powerful in the March 2017 watchOS 3.2 update?
That’s because Apple has opened Siri up to third-party developers, so instead of asking Siri to send a message and seeing the Messages app open, you’ll be able to ask Siri to send a WhatsApp message instead.
This is important because previously Siri could only work with Apple’s own apps. Now s/he can talk to third party apps too. You’ll be able to ask Siri to call you a cab, to start and stop workouts, to make payments… apps such as Spotify aren’t currently invited to the Siri party, but we’d expect Apple to open its voice assistant up further in the not-too-distant future.
Don’t expect Siri support to appear in everything overnight: the developers need to add it to their apps, but the list of imminently-compatible apps includes a whole host of exercise apps such as Fitso, mySwim Pro, RunGo, Seven, Slopes, Streaks, Zones, Zova and the forthcoming Ace Tennis.
Other apps with Siri support include the aforementioned WhatsApp and Lyft in the US. Beoplay Free, requires hardware
This app might be free, but it’s designed to work with some reassuringly expensive hardware: it’s from B&O, makers of high-end speakers and headphones such as the really impressive BeoPlay H4 Bluetooth headphones, and it’s for their hardware and nobody else’s.
If you’re fortunate enough to own the right cans or speakers then there’s lots here to like: good design and usability, really easy wireless pairing, the ability to link two identical speakers in stereo or ambient modes and audio presets for different kinds of content or listening environments.
One of the great features of this phone-based control, though, is what B&O calls Tonetouch, which uses your phone’s touchscreen to control the overall sound and make it warmer or brighter, more relaxed or more exciting, and to customize it according to the particular device you’re listening to.
That control isn’t available on the Beoplay Watch app, but you can access your saved Tonetouch presets from it.
The app works with the BeoPlay A1, A2, S3, H5, H7, H8, H9, M5 and Beolit 15, although you may need to update the software before they’ll play nicely with it. Where appropriate the app will also provide access to headphone settings such as noise cancellation and battery status. Drafts $5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99
On the face of it, and by face we mean Apple Watch face, Drafts doesn’t seem to offer much for six quidbucks: it enables you to dictate text and save it for later. But it turns out that it does an awful lot…it just does it in a really simple way.
On the iPhone, Drafts is designed to make it easy to capture ideas, thoughts, to-dos or anything else.
It has an email-style interface for easy navigation and it enables you to send your Drafts to a whole bunch of other apps and services: email, message, apps in your Share sheet, social media and so on.
It supports Markdown for easy formatting, and it hooks into the iMessage app to provide stored “snippets” of text and/or emoji for instant replies.
Bringing Drafts to the Watch makes it even faster. Tap on the microphone icon to capture and it does just that – but it also enables you to add to existing drafts using either your voice or the Scribble input, which means it’s brilliant for those moments when you think of something really clever to write or something you’d missed from your to-do list. It’s the kind of app you’ll quickly learn to love. Strava Free / in-app purchases
Strava is one of the most popular running and cycling apps around, but it’s always required you to have your phone or a non-Apple smartwatch to track your travels and record your vital statistics. Not anymore.
If you have an Apple Watch 2, the Strava Apple Watch app can use its GPS to record your run without requiring you to strap a phone to anything. The interface isn’t as pretty as the iPhone app’s interface, but when you’re running or cycling that doesn’t matter: the information you need is presented cleanly enough and the app is simple and straightforward to use.
The main app is free and offers essential features including distance, pace, speed, elevation and burned calories, and there’s a premium service for $5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99 per month or $59.99/£54.99/AU$89.99 per year that offers more detailed post-exercise analysis, live performance feedback and personalized coaching – although not through the Watch.
However, if you’re someone who uses the premium features like Beacon on the main app, you might not find Strava on the Apple Watch to your liking compared to using it on the phone. Hours Free / in-app purchases
Many of us need to track the time we spend on specific tasks, but the team behind Hours rightly point out the three big pitfalls of time tracking: we forget to start tracking in the first place, forget to stop when we change tasks, or just forget to stop the timer(s) altogether. Hours hopes to address that by making it really, really easy to start and stop and switch.
The iPhone app is a very beautiful thing, with a visual timeline that makes it easy to see what you’ve been up to. The Watch interface is much simpler, but just as effective: you can see the list of tasks with a timer icon for each, and if you tap on a task you can add a verbal note as well as starting or stopping the timer.
There’s a Complication for instant access, and the app will prompt you from time to time to see if you want to keep the selected timer running.
The standard version is free and ideal for self-employed or freelance types, but the $7.99/£5.99/AU$12.99 upgrade to Pro adds multi-device synchronization, web access, reporting and data visualizations, team creation and management, and online backup, which means it’s a great team tool too. Spark Free
There’s no shortage of apps promising to make email fun again, and Spark is one of our favorites: on our Mac and on our iPhone it does a superb job of showing us what we want and hiding what we don’t.
The Apple Watch app is as well thought-out as its siblings, with the ability to use Messages-style quick replies as well as emoji and dictation. It’s quite possible to reply to most everyday emails without reaching for your iPhone, although the option to Handoff is there if a message is too long to bother scrolling through on your wrist.
The main selling point for Spark is its Smart Inbox, which groups messages from multiple accounts into personal, notification and newsletter categories. It then displays how many unread messages you have for each category in the Watch app’s home screen.
You can pin messages for quick access, and you can snooze them to hide them for a specified period of time. We find ourselves using that last one a lot: messages we can’t process properly on our wrists are quickly snoozed so they’ll resurface when we’re back at our Macs. If you have to handle a lot of email Spark is a massive time saver. MultiTimer Free
Your Watch has a pretty good stopwatch app, but what happens when you need to time several things that happen at the same time?
Workouts involving high intensity training are the most obvious application, but you might need to time a marinade here, a slow cook there, a bit of boiling over there and some roasting over there, or time a presentation, test, exercise or video recording.
Whatever the scenario, MultiTimer can handle it without getting complicated, erring firmly on the side of simplicity.
With MultiTimer you can run multiple timers simultaneously, getting reminders when it’s time to do something, and the period can be from seconds to 100 hours, which should be enough for most situations. The app runs continuously in the background and takes up hardly any system resources: it’s just 20MB in size.
The main app displays multiple timers at once and has a Today widget for easy access, but the Watch version takes a more streamlined approach: timers appear in list format, and you tap on the list item to see the timer for it. Overcast Free + IAP
If you love to listen to podcasts and you don’t already have Overcast, you’re in for a nice surprise: it’s a superb app, and its Watch integration is particularly well thought out.
In addition to the usual controls and lists of shows and episodes, it gives you quick access to two really useful features: Smart Speed, which can make the podcast play more quickly without turning into Alvin and the Chipmunks; and Voice Boost, which can make indistinct speech noticeably clearer and compensate for podcasters who can’t pick a single spot in front of the mic.
If you’ve ever strained to hear something only for the host to move closer to the mic and nearly blow your eardrums out, you should be rushing to the App Store already
Overcast is free, or $9.99/£8.99/AU$12.99 without the ads. We’d recommend going for the ad-free version, because while the advertising isn’t too invasive this is an app that’s been put together by people who really care about the end user experience, and paying for the full app is a great way to ensure that they’ll keep on caring. $3.99/£3.49/AU$5.99 monthly subscription
A reliable and secure password manager is a must-have in these days of security breaches and hacks, and 1Password is one of the best. And it turns out that it’s also one of the best password managers you can use on your Apple Watch.
Our favorite apps don’t just port entire iPhone apps across. They think about what you’re actually likely to need on your wrist, and do that instead. In the case of 1Password that means you choose the pieces of information you want available on your Watch, so for example you might want details of a few logins, one credit card and a couple of notes, or perhaps the PIN codes for everyday locks.
If you’ve ever frantically scrolled through an iPhone app or contacts list to try and find the PIN for a bank card you don’t use very often, the appeal should be obvious.
Where 1Password gets particularly clever is in its support for team and family accounts, so you can share sets of information with everybody who needs it. And if a site you use has been compromised, 1Password will alert you to change your password. It’s great stuff, and comes with a glowing recommendation from Apple. $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49
Sometimes it’s hard to remember everything, especially when you’re traveling. What level did you park the car on? What’s the hotel room number? What did you change the combination on your locker to this time? Say hello to Cheatsheet , which is designed to remember the things you probably won’t.
It’s important to stress that Cheatsheet is not a secure app: it’s not designed to store any sensitive information. What it does instead is make it really easy to jot down all the little bits of information you might need during the day, from registration plates to flight numbers, bus routes, clothes sizes and bike lock codes.
It has 160 icons you can use to label each bit of information for easier identification, and you can add, edit and delete bits of information without having to open the phone. If you wish, you can use a Complication that shows your top memory-refreshing nugget of information right on the Watch face.
The main app is offered free, but if you want to use it on your Apple Watch you’ll need the Unlock Everything in-app purchase, which is currently $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49. If you’re constantly juggling, looking for or misplacing Post-It notes and scribbled-on scraps of paper, this app might just change your life. Free
You know you’re living in interesting times when one of the best apps for an Apple device comes from Microsoft. But Translator is superb.
We refer to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy in another entry, and Microsoft Translator is the closest we’ve come to its Babel Fish – a fish you stuck in your ear to translate the universe’s many languages.
Translator sits on your wrist rather than in your ear canal, but it does much the same thing. Speak into your watch and you’ll see the translation, and it remembers recent translations on Watch or phone so you can find them again easily. You can also pin translations for instant access to essential words or phrases.
It gets even better if you use it on your phone, because it can translate in real time as you message somebody. You’ll see your typing with the translation in the same bubble, and it can even handle simplified Chinese and Arabic script.
The amount of thought that’s gone into Translator is obvious. Want to translate a sign? Point your camera at it. Want to have a conversation in a language you don’t speak? The phone display splits with your words facing you and the translation facing them. Free
If you don’t have a dedicated fitness tracker but fancy being able to track your sleep patterns, Sleep++ can help. It turns your Watch into a sleep monitor, using its motion detection to track your twists and turns as you have that cheese-fueled nightmare again.
Using it is simple: tell the app when you’re going to bed, tell it when you wake up in the morning – and the resultant reports can be eye-opening.
Your sleep is broken into blocks according to quality and movement, so you can see whether you’re restless at particular times.
There is a downside to all of this, and that’s the Watch itself: you can only track your sleep if you keep the Watch on, and clearly you can’t do that and charge it at the same time. That’s a particular issue for the first-generation Apple Watch, which doesn’t have a brilliant battery life – and the newer Apple Watch 2 isn’t a whole lot better.
We found that the answer was to pop the Watch on charge while we breakfasted and showered, but sometimes that didn’t give us enough juice for a full day’s wear.
If your Watch usage means you already struggle to make it through the day before running out of juice then you might want to skip Sleep++, but if you’ve got battery life to spare it’s a fascinating insight into what happens when you’re asleep. $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99
One of the most useful things about the Apple Watch is that it enables you to do things without having to take your phone out of your pocket or bag. Just Press Record brings that handiness to voice recording, enabling you to capture bright ideas, rambling monologues or memos when you’re out and about.
The interface is just a big red button with a picture of a microphone on it, and as you might expect you tap it to start recording. The phone app can transcribe your recording to turn it into text – which means your recordings become searchable by keyword – and it recognises formatting commands such as “new paragraph” and “comma”.
To use it is to feel like you’re living in the future: we remember when dictation and transcription required a powerful PC and endless patience, and now you get much better results with a watch. Isn’t technology brilliant?
In addition to its recording and transcription features, the app syncs automatically via iCloud, so you can access it on all your devices – including macOS, for which there’s a separate app – and it uses the Watch’s own local storage so that you can record even if your phone isn’t currently connected. Free
The best apps are those which the developers have thought: “what watch-based features would actually be worthwhile?” and TripAdvisor definitely falls into that category: while the iPhone app is a veritable feast of information about absolutely everywhere, the watch app is much more focused.
To take a typical example, imagine you’re hungry. Tap on the app, tap restaurants, and the first thing you’ll see is a list of restaurants within 1km of your current location.
The key data is right there: the star rating, its rank in the local area, and what kind of food it does, so you can see immediately if the place offering easy cuisine is more likely to serve salmonella than smoked salmon.
Tap on the listing and you get a map, individual reviews and a photo gallery from users, not the establishment itself. There’s also a Save button, so if you like it you can add it to your favorite places.
When we say it’s focused we mean it: other than restaurants, the only options are Things To Do and Hotels. TripAdvisor clearly thinks that if you want to use other features, like damning a diner or praising a pie shop, you’ll do that in the iPhone app. And it’s right. $2.99/£2.29/AU$4.49
Getting Fantastical 2 up and running on your watch can be time consuming, but it’s worth it: one of the very best iPhone calendar apps around develops even more powers when you add its app to your watch.
You can also add it as a complication, which means you’ll see details of your schedule right there in the watch face.
To actually make it work you’ll need to install Fantastical to your watch and then open the iPhone app, not the Apple Watch one. This is where you specify what information should be sent to the watch, and the options are extensive.
You can choose from events, calendars, reminders and lists, include a map of the event location, show end times and specify how reminders should appear, and you can even specify what should happen if you tap on the Fantastical 2 complication on your watch face.
It’s that kind of thought and attention to detail that makes us love the app so much.
The best thing about Fantastical 2, though, is that it understands you. Force Touch the app, tap on Add Event and Siri starts listening.
It knows what you mean by “lunch with Dave”, automatically putting the appointment at 12 noon, and it knows that if you say “to-do get dinner on the way home” you’re adding an item to a to-do list. Siri’s voice recognition performs brilliantly when it’s limited to such a specific set of instructions. $3.99/£2.99
Dark Sky is the first app we put on any new Apple device, and the Apple Watch is no exception. In fact, we think Dark Sky is at its most useful when you’re wearing it on your wrist.
What Dark Sky does seems very simple, but is actually very clever. It tells you what the weather’s going to do – not in a vague sense, but as in telling you that it’s going to bucket down in ten minutes and that the storm won’t stop for an hour.
That means it’s the perfect app for anybody who’s thinking about going outside for any reason, or who’s already outside and really ought to be getting inside in a big hurry.
In more dramatic climates it alerts of dangerous weather such as storms, and you can set it to notify you of specific kinds of weather that you select in the companion iPhone app.
We use it to decide if now is a good time to walk the dog, if it’s time to get the kids back to the car or if we really shouldn’t be going out dressed like that; you might use it when you’re hiking or biking, or doing any other activity that could be affected by changes in the weather.
If you used Dark Sky in the early days of the Apple Watch and found it painfully slow and unresponsive, give it another go: the current version runs on the watch, not on the phone, and the difference in performance really is dramatic. Free
You’ve probably noticed something of a trend in our favorite apps: they tend to approach their mission by asking what useful things the watch can do rather than trying to cram an entire phone app into that tiny screen, irrespective of whether that’s sane or useful. Yelp is a great example of an app that gets it right.
When you open it you’ll see just four icons: Restaurants, Bars, Coffee & Tea, and Hot & New. Tapping on the one you’re interested in then shows you a list sorted by distance, with the all-important star ratings and average cost listed on top of a photograph. Tap again and you’ll get the opening hours and a map, and of course you can read the reviews too – that’s what Yelp is all about.
It’s particularly good for the kind of venues and experiences popular among bright young things in big cities, (the most committed Yelpers), but the database is truly enormous and doesn’t turn into tumbleweed whenever you venture into the countryside. Yelp’s app is very good for finding places in unfamiliar towns, or unfamiliar places in towns you know very well. Free
Foursquare’s mission has changed somewhat over the years: what started off based around location check-ins and “king of the castle” bragging had to change when Facebook promptly copied the idea.
Robbed of its raison d’être , these days Foursquare has separated the check-ins from the venue recommendations.