The best Apple Watch apps

Andy Boxall
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Whether you’re wearing the original Apple Watch, the Series 2, or the new Apple Watch Series 3 — which we say is the best smartwatch you can buy — you’re going to want to know the best Apple Watch apps to download. To find them, you typically have to trawl through the thousands of apps available on the App Store, but to make your life easier, we’ve gathered the best apps for the Apple Watch and broken them down into several distinct categories, including fitness, entertainment, and social media.

Once you’ve loaded up your smartwatch with apps, consult our guides to the best Apple Watch bands and the best Apple Watch faces.

Sleep and mindfulness

Sleep Cycle

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A companion app to the comprehensive Sleep Cycle app for the iPhone and iPad, the big benefit here is the silent wake up alarm based on sleep phases, plus a snore stopper feature. This uses vibrations to encourage a position change, and thereby minimizing snoring. The app is free, but some features require a subscription.

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iTunes

Sleep++

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Here’s a wear-and-forget sleep tracker for the Apple Watch. Unlike many other systems, Sleep++ doesn’t require you to activate night mode, and automatically switches on sleep tracking when it understands you’ve gone to bed. There is a manual override too, if it’s not accurate enough. The app is free, with an in-app purchase to remove ads.

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iTunes

Headspace

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Headspace offers guided meditations to help you relax, designed for everybody. From your choice of duration to hundreds of different topics, plus emergency stress-relieving guides for when you most need it, the app wants to make understanding mindfulness easy and beneficial. The app is free, and has some basic content, but a subscription is needed to access the majority.

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iTunes

Health and fitness

Asana Rebel: Yoga and Fitness

Asana Rebel is a fun fitness app designed for women, one that sports a fitness routine that rivals hardcore HIIT programs. Updated for iOS 11, the app also works with the Apple Watch, making it easy to start and end workouts, and see your progress without having to glance at your phone. The app is free, but a subscription is required if you want the coached plans.

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iTunes

Standland

A different take on the traditional activity tracker, Standland encourages you to meet your hourly standing goals by rewarding you with cute characters. There are 14 characters to collect, and they need you to physically move around in order to stay awake. If you miss your targets, they fall asleep. A recent update has also added an AR mode for iOS 11, and the app helps keep track of your standing records.

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iTunes

Nike+ Run Club

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Nike’s running app comes pre-installed on the special Nike edition of the Apple Watch Series 2, but it works with all Watches, and supports GPS on the Series 2, whether it’s the Nike model or not. Track runs, get personalized fitness plans, compete on leaderboards, and even have fun with special Nike stickers for iMessage.

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iTunes

Runtastic

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If you use Runtastic to track your running and other fitness activities already, the Runtastic Apple Watch app will fit right in with your workout. From your Watch, you can start your run, get live tracking data, control music, share workout times, and if you have your phone with you, then it’ll use GPS. There’s a free version of Runtastic, or the Pro version ($5) with no ads and more features.

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iTunes

Lifesum

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If Apple’s own fitness tracking app isn’t enough, then you may want to try Lifesum, a complete guide to getting healthier, fitter, and more motivated. It works with HealthKit and other apps. It prompts you to make small but important changes to your everyday life, that can end up having a larger cumulative effect. The app is free, but there is a subscription plan.

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iTunes

Peak — Brain Training

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The Apple Watch doesn’t just help your body stay in shape, but your mind, too. Peak is part cognitive brain workout and part quick gaming fix. There are 40 games, each designed by neuroscientists and gamers, and three — tailored around improving memory and attention span — are specifically made for playing on the Apple Watch.

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iTunes

News

BBC News

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The Apple Watch’s screen may not be big, but the BBC still manages to make it usable to read news, get breaking story alerts, and check out the major developments of the day. The main app sends out notifications, too, which can be viewed on your Watch.

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iTunes

CNN

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An alternative to the BBC app, CNN’s Apple Watch extension lets you browse news in 12 different categories, all of which can be set to your preference. Additionally, the main app sends out breaking news notifications and can be set to update you on specific stories.

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iTunes

Flipboard

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If you’re already a Flipboard fan, then getting your news fix on the Apple Watch is easy. If not, then it’s a great time to get started with this news aggregator. Flipboard is easy to use and beautiful to look at.

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iTunes

Weather

Dark Sky ($4)

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Dark Sky’s Apple Watch app was made specifically for the wearable, so it’s not a downsized version of the main app, and it shows. The weather app provides a week’s forecast and will display weather notifications on rain, extreme weather, or government alerts. It operates in the U.S., the U.K., and Ireland.

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iTunes

Weather+

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A free, very attractive alternative to Dark Sky, and a step above Apple’s own weather app, Weather+ gives you a 5-day forecast, a weather-station-like visual experience, and detailed three-hour data on everything from rain, humidity, and wind speed. It’s made for WatchOS 2.0, so it’s fast and usable.

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iTunes

Weather Underground

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Many other weather apps rely on Weather Underground’s forecast already, so why not just go to the source? The Apple Watch extension has a quick glance view of the current forecast, plus a 10-day forecast if you want to plan ahead. The main app also includes widgets and a cool 3D Touch feature.

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iTunes

Music and entertainment

Castro Podcast Player

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Working almost like an email client for podcasts, the Castro app makes it easy to log, download, and listen to podcasts, no matter how many you subscribe to. The Apple Watch app lets you control playback, including choosing new episodes to play. The app is free, but there is a subscription option for additional features.

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iTunes

Shazam

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Identify that unknown song just by letting Shazam take a listen. The Apple Watch app will display all the information on the song (but your iPhone does the listening), uses Handoff so you can buy it through iTunes, and displays a list of previous songs identified. The main app also works with iMessage in iOS 10, so it’s right up to date.

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iTunes

Deezer

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If Deezer is your music streaming service of choice (or you’re looking for one), its Apple Watch integration is deep enough to make it worthwhile installing. You get complete control over the music, including skips and likes, plus Deezer’s Flow predictive feature works, too. The app operates in both online and offline mode.

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iTunes

Musixmatch

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Link Musixmatch with Apple Music or Spotify Premium and get synced up lyrics for your favorite songs on your wrist. The Apple Watch app can also prompt the music identification feature on the phone.

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iTunes

TuneIn Radio

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Get complete control over the 100,000-plus radio stations featured in the TuneIn app using your Apple Watch. Choose stations, identify tracks, add stations to your favorites list, and plenty more features are included.

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iTunes

Social media

Nano for Reddit

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This native app brings the Reddit experience to your wrist, and it works over both Wi-Fi and 4G LTE, so if you have the latest Apple Watch Series 3 you don’t need your phone nearby to browse the site. Because the app is designed for use on the Watch, it operates smoothly, resulting in a frustration-free Reddit experience. The app is free, and there is a Pro version with additional features for between $2 and $4, with the choice of how much to pay being left down to you, just like a tip system.

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iTunes

WeChat

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Hugely popular, WeChat’s Apple Watch app brings most of the full-screen experience to your wrist, including responding to messages, viewing new conversations, leaving voice replies, and sharing your location.

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iTunes

Travel

iTranslate Converse

With the aptly-titled iTranslate Converse, you can translate your words into another language directly from your Apple Watch. To do so, you simply say what you want to say into the watch, and let it translate the phrase into one of 38 languages. It works in real time — or close to it — and includes a visual, text-based translation. The app is free, but a subscription is needed to use the service beyond the trial period.

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iTunes

Circa

Circa allows you to keep track of international timezones at a glance, and work out what time it is elsewhere in the world. The clear and easy-to-use interface organizes your time zones, so you can quickly determine what time is best to contact friends, family, and colleagues (no matter where you are).

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iTunes

Citymapper

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Ciymapper provides a wealth of travel and transit information, and the Apple Watch extension provides all the route and travel details you could want, including notifications for the next stop, or changes to your plan. There are complications for the Apple Watch face showing ETA and step-by-step routes.

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iTunes

Uber

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Everything you normally do on the Uber iPhone app can be done from your wrist on the Apple Watch, including requesting a ride, viewing its location, and checking the details about the car and driver.

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iTunes

App in the Air

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Manage your flights on the Apple Watch, iPhone, and iMessage with this clever app. The Watch extension tracks your flight, gives gate details, and even in-flight health tips and a live route view.

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iTunes

Tools and productivity

Canary Mail

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Canary Mail is one of the only third-party email clients with an Apple Watch app. In addition to reading email, it provides quick replies, dictation, and — if you have an Apple Watch Series 3 with 4G LTE — it will sync email without your phone. It also offers PGP for end-to-end encryption, but it does cost $10.

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iTunes

Evernote

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Apple hasn’t integrated Notes with the Apple Watch, so use Evernote instead. The Watch app receives notifications and reminders, lets you view notes and update them, and create new ones using dictation. The same method can be used to search your notes as well.

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iTunes

Drafts 5

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Drafts is all about text. Grab text from anywhere, or dictate it on the move, and share it with almost any other app or service. Dictate it directly to your Apple Watch, view the result, add more, and save it in your inbox. It’s a fast way to take notes.

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iTunes

Cheatsheet

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Remember stuff using your Apple Watch. Take a quick note, called a cheat, then it’ll appear as a complication on your chosen Apple Watch face. The app also integrates with iMessage on iOS 10 and has a widget for your iPhone. An in-app purchase unlocks iCloud syncing, too.

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iTunes

Fantastical 2 ($5)

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This calendar and reminder app goes all out on the Apple Watch, allowing you to add events using dictation, view upcoming calendar entries, and have it all displayed in a Watch face complication.

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iTunes

Finance

Currency

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Currency only does one thing, but it does it well: Convert one currency over to another currency, all without digging around for your phone.

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iTunes

Calcbot

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Want to spilt the bill at a restaurant, but no struggle with mental arithmetic? The Apple Watch Calcbot app will do the sums for you, along with a few other basic calculations. The full iPhone app is more comprehensive, if needed.

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iTunes

Pennies ($5)

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You’ll have to set up your budget in the main iPhone app, but once it’s done, Pennies on the Apple Watch makes keeping track of spending very easy. It warns when you’re getting close to your limit and has a Glance screen for daily allowances.

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iTunes

Games

Lifeline ($2)

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This is a choose-your-own-adventure game on the Apple Watch. It plays out in real time, and notifications appear with details on the decisions you need to make. Get it right, and your character survives. Get it wrong, and things will take a very different turn.

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iTunes

Runeblade

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A fantasy adventure game that looks like no other Apple Watch game. Written expressly for the Watch, it has 1,000 levels of play, where spells, artifacts, and enchantments are used to fight the enemy.

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iTunes

Walkr

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Make everyday activity a fun game, in the spirit of Pokémon Go, where the steps you take power a spaceship so you can discover new worlds.

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iTunes

Trivia Crack

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No need to grab your phone for a quick trivia game, Trivia Crack can be played from the Apple Watch, too. The app also works with iMessage in iOS 10.

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iTunes

Remotes

Halide Camera ($6)

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An alternative camera app for your iPhone, the Apple Watch companion app works like a remote shutter release, and has a live preview on screen too. Because the app’s focus is on manual camera use, it’s helpful for taking photos with long exposures to avoid camera shake.

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iTunes

ProCamera ($5)

best apple watch apps

You can finally appear in those group pictures by controlling your iPhone with ProCamera. The mobile app lets you capture low-light pictures, timed photos, HDR, and video directly from your Apple Watch, meaning you can leave the selfie stick at home.

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iTunes

myTifi

best apple watch apps

If you have a Samsung Smart TV, then this is the app to have. Using myTifi, you can control all aspects of your TV — from the volume to the source input — with a simple tap on the screen or turn of the Digital Crown.

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iTunes

Huemote

best apple watch apps

When it comes to smart lighting, Philips Hue lights are some of the most popular on the market. With Huemote, you can now organize lights around your home into distinct groups and scenes, directly on your Apple Watch. You can also change the color of the lights, as well as power them on or off.

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iTunes

Microsoft PowerPoint

best apple watch apps

Using AirPlay, you can project any presentation from your iPhone onto a larger screen. And with PowerPoint for the Apple Watch, you can go forward or back, pause, or end the presentation without touching your phone. You can even glance at your watch while presenting to check the elapsed time and current slide.

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iTunes