There are already more than 4000 apps available 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 the ergonomics or usability front.
Others briefly impress, but that’s just 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.
1. Twitterrific (US$free + US$2.99 IAP)
The official Twitter app is an oddball, giving you access to your entire feed and current trends. Believe us, you don’t want to plough through a Twitter feed using a tiny screen strapped to your wrist.
Twitterrific is much smarter, concentrating on notifications. These can be activated individually in the iPhone app, meaning you get a ding on your wrist when something you consider important happens: a direct message, a new follower, or, if you’re a bit self-obsessed, when someone favourites one of your tweets.
The app enables you to respond appropriately to any of these notifications, replying to a message or following back a new follower. There’s also a Glance view for checking out your Twitter day in terms of these interactions. You'll need to shell out US$2.99 to make these features come alive on your Watch, but trust us: it's worth it.
2. CARROT Weather (US$3.99)
We get the thinking behind Apple’s Weather app, which uses a clock face to show how the weather will change over the next 10 hours or so, but it doesn’t scan too well. Several third-party apps do better, and CARROT has become a firm favourite with us.
The design is smart and clear, displaying current conditions and any imminent rainfall. Scroll and you get the week’s forecast; tap on an item and you get more details. The CARROT apps are also underpinned by a malevolent AI, which hates humans. It helpfully states that it “sucks to be you” if it’s about to pour down, and whimsically mulls that it’s “a bit moony” on cold, clear nights.
3. 1Password (US$free + US$9.99 IAP)
Our favourite app for keeping passwords and other important information secure, 1Password proves handy on Apple Watch too. Sensibly, it doesn’t attempt to send your vault’s entire contents to your wrist; instead, you activate individual items, such as a credit cart, website login, or a note. These then show up as bright, tappable buttons inside the Apple Watch app.
Naturally, you might have security concerns, but 1Password for Apple Watch can be secured by a PIN. You can also force-quit the app after use, to make doubly sure your information isn’t accessible should someone pilfer your Apple Watch, your iPhone and presumably also your finger to crack Touch ID. (To do this, click-hold the side button, and when the power screen appears, click and immediately click-hold until the app closes.)
Again, though the app is initially free to install to iPhone you'll need an in-app purchase to unlock the Watch functionality. In this case, you'll need the US$9.99 Pro version.
4. BBC News (US$free)
The problem with most news apps on Apple Watch is they try to be too clever, when all you really want is to rifle through some headlines. Most have sluggish page-swipe interfaces that get old fast. BBC News understands such problems and avoids them entirely, hence why it’s the news app we keep returning to. You get headlines for the top stories, a user-defined ‘My News’ list you build in the iPhone app, and ‘most read’. Tap a headline and you get a synopsis under a tiny photo. Using Handoff, you can continue reading the current item on your iPhone.
5. Find Near Me (US$free)
On the iPhone, Find Near Me is a strange one — perhaps the most powerful of the simple freebie apps for finding local amenities and stores, but, boy, is it ugly. On Apple Watch, though, the tiny display has clearly forced the developer to simplify and the result is excellent: clear buttons to access a category, and then a results list with names and directions.
Tap an item and you get further details, including reviews for restaurants and the means to get directions by foot, bike or car. Handily, there’s Siri search integration, too, for when the predefined categories don’t cover where you want to go.