The Blossoming New World of Apple Watch Apps

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I’m a big fan of the Apple Watch and wear mine seven days a week. At first it was mostly for the notifications and health tracking, but after a while the apps started getting pretty good. Good enough, in fact, that after watchOS 3, I realized I could turn my Watch faces into app pages.

“But what are these Watch apps that changed the face of your faces forever?” I’m glad you asked.

Quick Primer: Get to know the new App Dock

A key feature to the Apple Watch’s much-improved app experience is the App Dock, new in watchOS 3. It brings significant changes to app performance and your ability to quickly open your most important apps, do your thing, and get on with your day—one of the Watch’s core purposes for existing. If you aren’t familiar, check out our quick tip on the App Dock, then come back here to find some great apps with which to fill it.

Now, let’s invite some new friends to the party.

Drafts

At first glance, Drafts for iPhone and iPad looks like a simple iOS app for quickly capturing text—ideas, shopping lists, your next great tweet, blog post theses (like this one!), you name it. If you dig a little deeper though, Drafts has some wild support for all sorts of things like pre- and appending text to a note, multi-step publishing workflows, and even automating with JavaScript.

The Watch app has one of the Dick Tracy-est features on this list, which is why I added its complication to six of my seven faces. Tap the Drafts complication, and the app opens to voice dictation, ready to transcribe. Say your piece, tap done, and get on with your day.

Hours

Hours is a great app for tracking the amount of time you spend on various projects or tasks. It can work by itself or plug into a few services like Freshbooks. As a person who likes to put my iPhone away more often these days, the ability to quickly start project timers from my wrist is very welcome.

AnyList

Some people use any ol’ task app to create grocery lists. But constantly re-typing the same items over and over got way too tedious for me a while ago, so I sought out AnyList. Between its built-in catalog of grocery store items and the ability to add your own, you eventually build your personalized catalog of one-tap grocery list items. The Watch companion is a great way to quickly tick off items from the list you built on iPhone or iPad.

Weather Underground

I like to have a little more weather info on-handwrist, so I use Weather Underground for iPhone and iPad. The iOS app is great with data visualization and customization, and the Watch app has good access to a nice portion of that.

V for Wikipedia

This is one of those apps that transforms a fairly standard, though arguably dull, experience into something beautiful and engaging. V for Wikipedia has a personality and experience all its own, with one of its key features being location-based. A customized map view places colored bookmarks around you, tied to relevant Wikipedia articles. The ability to do this on my Watch is a fun, quick way to learn what’s around me and bookmark it for reading later.

Gymatic

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One of the most impressive Watch apps I’ve used in a while, Gymatic is a workout and strength training companion. While you use the iPhone app to view, analyze, and get an ego-boost from your data, the real magic is in the Watch app which uses the built-in gyroscope and accelerometer to log your exercises. After a little bit of training, Gymatic for Apple Watch gets pretty good at figuring out which type of training you’re doing and automatically logging each exercise, right down to the number of reps in each session.

Productive

Apps for tracking and encouraging better habits are a popular genre right now, and my choice is Productive. It’s easy to set up multiple habits, starting with a whole bunch of built-in templates for common things like exercise, taking your vitamins, reading, and cooking a good meal. Productive’s Watch app makes it easy to record when you’ve done yourself some good each day.

Be sure to explore

I am but one person, and this is but a tiny handful of apps that have taken advantage of all the new developer tools Apple has provided recently. If you haven’t spent much time in the Watch App Store lately, give it a look the next time you have a free moment—you might be pleasantly surprised.

Of course, if I missed one of your favorite Watch apps, be sure to share it in the comments below.

2 Comments Add a comment

  1. David:

    Great recommendations. I’ve added several of these to the list of my productivity apps. I’ve always felt that Apple need to add a bit more granularity to the workout section of the Activity app, and Gymatic does a bit of that. Also looking forward to playing with Drafts.

    Many thanks.

  2. I also found these recommendations great. I downloaded most of them and a couple gave me those ‘that’s what I’ve been looking for!’ moments. I had just discovered Productive on my own as a step up from the popular Streaks app – a great app to start with but to never up the limit beyond just 6 items was just too limiting.

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