10 must-have apps for your new Apple Watch
The Apple Watch is great right out of the box, but you will want to add a few apps to really make it sing. Apple’s wearable is a true marvel, and the Series 5 is the best yet, but you will never know just how useful it can be if you do not expand your horizons a bit.
When we think about the Apple Watch apps we just cannot live without, these are at the top of the list. Some are free, some are not, but every single one is worth your while.
If there is one major feature missing from the Apple Watch, it is automatic sleep tracking. Rumours persist about Apple adding the capability, but year after year, we are disappointed when it does not. Fortunately, it is not that hard to add with an app like AutoSleep, Sleep Watch, Sleep++, or Pillow. There are now several good sleep-tracking apps to choose from, but most require either a substantial in-app purchase to make proper use of, or a subscription that can really add up.
That is one reason we like AutoSleep. Not only does it work well and give you lots of great data, it is just one up-front (and reasonable) price. No hidden upgrade in-app-purchases, no subscriptions. Just three bucks to add quality sleep automatic sleep tracking to your Apple Watch.
There are plenty of good weather apps out there, many of which support Apple Watch, but Carrot Weather may be our favourite. It combines excellent weather forecasting (with data from Weather Underground or Dark Sky), lots of customisation, a funky augmented reality mode, and even achievements. The snarky evil robot voice helps make weather fun.
Apple Watch support is especially robust, with several different complications available and the ability to customise them in the app. Carrot Weather was one of the first third-party apps to make use of the new corner complications on Apple Watch Series 4, and it gives you a card on the Siri watch face, too.
The only downside is that the app costs €5.49, and then for certain features you have subscribe to a Premium Club membership for a monthly or yearly fee. The cost is to cover the increased API usage of its data sources for features like precipitation warnings.
Carrot Weather (€5.49, in-app purchases)
Shazam is the number one name in identifying music. It is so associated with being able to “name that tune” that there is even a game show with Jamie Foxx.
Apple bought Shazam in September and did not do anything other than remove ads from the app, which just makes it better. We figure the company has big plans for the Shazam technology, but in the meantime, it is an excellent app for your Apple Watch. Just tap that Shazam complication and the app immediately loads up and starts listening. You can use the iPhone app to go through the history of songs you have found and add them to Apple Music or Spotify.
Having the ability to identify songs on your wrist makes you use it a lot more than having to pull your phone out.
It is almost weird that there is no calculator app built into the Apple Watch. Your iPhone has one, and calculator watches were sort of the first “smart watches.”
PCalc is our favourite advanced calculator app for iOS, and it comes with a great Apple Watch app. It costs €10.99, but if all you want is to add a simple calculator to your wrist, we suggest the free PCalc Lite. The advanced features and customisation of the paid version mostly just benefit iPhone and iPad users.
PCalc Lite (free, in-app purchases)
If you are a sports fan, the Apple Watch is a great device for keeping up to date on the latest news and scores. And theScore app is our favourite way to do it. Totally free and completely customisable, the app will keep you up to date with news and score for all your favourite teams, whether you follow the pros or amateurs.
You can see in-game action, plays, and of course, score updates as games are going on, as well as check out upcoming games right on your wrist. If you cannot be in front of the TV, then this is the next best thing.
Things is one of the most well-received task managers around, and it is easy to see why. It is attractive, simple, clear, and easy to use. It does what any good task manager should: make it easy to jot down a new task, clear what it is you have to do today, and it stays out of your way the rest of the time. It is an Apple Design Award winner, and it shows.
Things on the Apple Watch is great. Quickly add a to-do item to organise later on your iPhone. Look at today’s tasks, check off items as you do them, or postpone them for later with just a couple taps. It supports the Siri watch face, which is the perfect place to get daily task reminders.
Things it is not cheap. At €10.99, it is one of the more expensive iPhone apps of its type. But a good task manager will save you time and help you get more done, without feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. That is worth the price of a couple cups of coffee.
Things 3 (€10.99)
Just Press Record
Would you pay €5.49 for an app where you press a button and it starts recording, press it again and it stops? Yes, yes you will, because Just Press Record is awesome. It is lightweight, fast, reliable, and powerful. It will transcribe speech to text in over 30 languages. It syncs to iCloud. You can record super high quality from external microphones.
And Apple Watch makes it even better. Tap its complication and it launches and starts recording immediately, so you never miss a beat. It can record directly to the watch even when your phone is not around (it syncs up later). Adjust volume with the digital crown. Start recordings with Siri. Playback recordings through AirPods or your watch speaker.
You just do not realise how useful a really well made one-touch recording feature is until you have it.
Just Press Record (€5.49)
Citymapper is an amazing transit app. It gives you bus and subway times, alerts you to service outages, helps you plot trips, and so much more. It works by grabbing public data feeds from dozens of city transit agencies. It has won all kinds of app of the year awards, and for good reason.
On Apple Watch it is even better. With a glance at your wrist you can see where to go next, which bus or train to get on, and when it is coming. It can be hard to fiddle with your phone on crowded transit, but a glance at your wrist can show you what stop you are supposed to get off at.
The downside to Citymapper is that, since it relies on public transit data, its only available in a couple dozen cities. It is perfect if you live in, or are traveling to, a huge metropolitan area, but not of much use to anyone else.
You certainly do not need to download an extra app to enjoy streaming music or podcasts, though iHeartRadio does a fine job with both of those. The real benefit of the app is its library of thousands of global FM and AM radio streams, including sports stations like ESPN Radio and Fox Sports.
Of course, iHeartRadio offers a lot more. There are tons of popular podcasts, artist and genre stations, and scores of playlists. It is all free and ad-supported, but you can subscribe to iHeartRadio Plus or iHeartRadio All Access to get an ad-free experience with unlimited skips and the ability to save local tracks for offline playback.
iHeartRadio (free, in-app purchases)
Night Sky is one of our favourite iPhone and iPad apps. If you have ever looked up and wondered “What star or planet is that?” then Night Sky is for you. It does so much more, too. There are several slick AR modes, notifications for watching the international space station fly overhead, Siri Shortcuts… you do not have to be an astronomy fan to fall in love with this app.
You might not think a sky chart on your watch would be useful, but you would be wrong. Just raise your wrist to the sky and move it around to quickly find and identify objects in the sky. When your watch is down, it turns into a sort of “sky compass” that points you in the direction of stuff worth looking at. It is almost like magic.
Night Sky (free, in-app purchases)
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