There are thousands of apps for Apple Watch. The tiny snag is that most of them aren’t much cop.
Some misunderstand how a wearable is best used, and demand you spend too long with your wrist in front of your face, while others only briefly impress. That’s not good enough for us. We want apps that are clever and well-designed – and 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. On this page, you’ll find all-important health and exercise apps. Our other pages cover travel and essentials, productivity apps, and entertainment and games.
The best Apple Watch exercise and health apps
Get fitter through Apple’s little helper having you work out, run, and sleep more soundly.
There are loads of workout apps for Apple Watch, but WorkOutDoors does something the others don’t: maps. On your wrist, you get a vector-based map that can be zoomed, panned or rotated. It’s like someone stuck a tiny iPhone in an Apple Watch case.
And its ambition doesn’t stop there. There are loads of features that show what can be done when you’re aiming to make more than an iPhone app’s sidekick: breadcrumb trails; multi-coloured speed/elevation/heart-rate trails; alternate layouts and zones; compass support; tons of data options; and POIs to help you navigate your way to the nearest pub. (Well, you need a reward after all that exercise, right?)
Strava (free + IAP)
Rather simpler in scope than WorkOutDoors, Strava goes for a more traditional companion app. You get a giant ‘start’ button, and then stats (time/distance/heart-rate) as you blaze about the place on your bike or on foot.
Given that Strava’s been able to work without an Apple Watch for some time now, it’s one of the more reliable efforts on the platform. The tiny snag is that it gives your battery a bit of a kicking. Still, all the more reason for you to pick up the pace a bit.
Runkeeper (£free + IAP)
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 or newer? 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.
Your Apple Watch encourages you to track and protect your health — steps; stands; hearing. But Moodistory tries something different, inviting you to keep tabs on your mood.
Naturally, this is quite subjective, but the app keeps things simple, asking you to rate how you’re feeling, thereby gradually building up a picture of your mood over time.
It’s possible, even on Apple Watch, to add basic notes to entries, and check how your mood’s changed during the past two weeks. On iPhone, you can dig deeper into your data.
Standland (free + IAP)
If you feel your Apple Watch telling you to get off your behind once every hour isn’t sufficient motivation, you might enjoy Standland. The app has similar intent to Apple’s nagging, but rewards your heroic activity by dishing out adorable collectable creatures.
Any activity lasting at least one minute during an hour is counted, maxing out at 24 per day. Before long, you’ll have a tiny owl or little bunny to gawp at, which can romp around 3D AR environments back on your iPhone. Just take care to not die of a cute overdose.
ActivityTracker Pedometer (£free)
If you’re into walking at pace with your Apple kit, hoofing it to a better you, Apple’s Activity gives you stats – but ActivityTracker Pedometer gives you better stats.
More specifically, it immediately shows your steps count (rather than Apple’s vague ‘move’ goal), alongside distance and calorie-burn readings. Twiddle the digital crown and you get a breakdown of whether you stepped to it (so to speak) earlier in the day and week too.
Heart Analyzer (£free + IAP)
There’s a Heart Rate app built right into your Apple Watch, but Heart Analyzer allows you to dig deeper into your thumpiest of organs.
After you’ve performed a bout of exercise, you can peruse wiggly lines, showing how your heart rate changed over time. The app logs averages over the past week, and you can even set a massive graph as a complication.
Overkill? For some. But if you’re sporty, Heart Analyzer seems a good bet for keeping track of what your ticker’s up to.
Air Matters (£free)
Weather apps have a tendency to bury air quality data. Even Apple Watch apps don’t always let you dig down into the specifics, merely allowing you to have a complication display an AQI reading.
Air Matters is different. It allows you to select the specific allergen that bothers you, and then have a risk rating readily available on your Apple Watch. Dig into the app itself for further details, along with a smattering of weather forecasting.