The 10 best Apple Watch apps (that we’re actually using)

If you’re still figuring out what Apple Watch is really for, these great apps will help you find out

31 May 2017
by Stuff Staff

There are thousands of apps for Apple Watch. The tiny snag is that most of them aren’t much cop.

Why? Well some misunderstand how a wearable is best used, and demand you spend far too long with your wrist in front of your face; others misfire on ergonomics or usability.

Others briefly impress, but that’s not good enough for us. We want apps that are clever and well-designed but also that we return to on a regular basis.

That, then, is what this list is all about: the best Apple Watch apps we’re actively using.

STREAKS WORKOUT

This app broke a couple of the Stuff team, but we nonetheless heartedly recommend it for a quick calorie burn. All you need is your Apple Watch – Streaks Workout functions independently of the iOS app – and the will to work up a bit of a sweat.

You choose from four workout lengths (30 entirely suitably being dubbed ‘pain’), and the app strings together simple exercises. When you’re done with a set of reps, you tap the screen. Easy. Except when your entire body is screaming at you for not initially going for the six-minute option.

PENNIES

In our experience, pennies aren’t so much the problem when it comes to budgeting – pounds are (and often, lots of them). If you get to the end of the month and wonder where all your money went, weld Pennies to your wrist.

You set up lists, allocate a budget, and then input values when you spend or receive some cash. And if you want to be constantly guilted by your Apple Watch, Pennies can show your ongoing budget as a Complication.

ITRANSLATE

Although it’s not quite like having a tiny translator taped to your wrist, iTranslate can quickly find translations for whatever you utter (or scribble) into it; and it can also speak (through your Apple Watch) to help with pronunciation.

Go ‘pro’ (a month costs $4.99) and you can use an offline mode on your phone. The app also has a clever Complication, which shows a greeting for the current time of day, and displays previous translations when you twiddle the Digital Crown to use the watchOS Time Travel feature.

RUNKEEPER

A long-time favourite of healthy folks, Runkeeper also happens to have a snazzy Apple Watch app. If you have an older Apple Watch, Runkeeper will happily communicate with your iPhone, providing updates on your current progress as you wheeze your way around a circuit that suddenly appears to be a million miles in length.

Got an Apple Watch Series 2? Turn off Run With Phone and the Runkeeper app will use your wearable’s GPS to build a map of your journey. Great for checking out routes of successful runs. Not so much if your old route involved a sneaky bakery pit-stop that you were dead set on no-one ever discovering.

JUST PRESS RECORD

The idea behind Just Press Record is to make capturing voice memos insanely simple. On Apple Watch, the app starts off as a massive microphone button. Prod it to start recording. When you’re done, the recording lurks on your Apple Watch until it next connects to your iPhone, at which point it transfers. Easy.

Using the Apple Watch app, you can also peruse and playback recent recordings. The only snag is there’s no background playback, so it’s best for shortish memos. Still, that’s a small niggle when using it makes you feel like you’re living in a trashy sci-fi flick.

SLEEP++

Most Apple Watch apps are designed to feed you information while you’re awake. Sleep++ is almost the opposite – grabbing information while you’re snoozing. Broadly speaking, it’s designed to track motion, thereby figuring out how restless you are – and when. If it turns out you’re always rolling about at 3am, it might be worth seeing if your neighbour’s performing impromptu guitar solos around that time.

With watchOS 3’s Background Refresh, Sleep++ is now more responsive when you wake, enabling you to immediately analyse last night’s sleep. And although you might wonder when you can charge your Apple Watch if you wear it overnight, the developer notes that shouldn’t be a concern.

PRODUCTIVE

On the iPhone, Productive is designed to help you build good habits. You create individual habits and say how often you want to do them. The app then builds daily schedules, split into morning, afternoon and evening.

The Apple Watch app is a basic companion – but a smart one. On launch, it’ll switch to the relevant list, enabling you to quickly check through your schedule. Finished a task? Tap Done and wear a smug grin. Don’t fancy doing one today? Tap Skip and perfect your guilty face for a bit.

DRAFTS

Weirdly, Notes has yet to make its way across to Apple Watch, but fortunately Drafts ably fills that particular void. The app enables you to capture new notes by dictation, which are then hurled into your Drafts inbox. Alternatively, you can append or prepend whatever you input to an existing note – for example, to update a diary or shopping list.

If you don’t fancy talking at your Apple Watch, you can use the new watchOS 3 Scribble feature to write notes instead. Also, your inbox is browsable and your notes are readable on you Apple Watch, saving you from having to keep heading to your iPhone.

FANTASTICAL

It feels a bit odd to recommend an app primarily for one feature, but here we are. For reasons beyond us, Calendar on Apple Watch still lacks the means to create new entries. By contrast, Fantastical’s been able to do so for ages.

Much like the iPhone version, Fantastical for Apple Watch has some natural-language smarts, meaning you can say something like “lunch with Mark next Wednesday at 12 for 2 hours” and the event will be correctly created. Beyond that… well, it’s a calendar for your Apple Watch, although a good-looking and snappy one.

PCALC

If you’ve fond memories of calculator watches, you’re probably a) quite old and b) not going to be convinced about using a calculator app on Apple Watch. Because frankly, doing so is a mite fiddly.

Still, PCalc is the best of them. The buttons are fairly chunky, and although operators lurk on a second screen, accessing them is easy. The app also includes a handy third screen for calculations. It defaults to tips, but you can spin the Digital Crown to get at units for all kinds of things.

 

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