There are thousands of apps 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 ergonomics or usability.
Others briefly impress, but that’s 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.
Elk (free + RM16.90 IAP)
When you’re overseas, it’s never good when you get currency conversions wrong and later discover you spent a month’s wages on a pair of socks. Elk puts conversions right on your wrist, reducing the likelihood of expensive mistakes.
Even better: this app’s properly thought about how you interact with Apple Watch. There’s no fiddly keypad for entering data – instead, you twiddle the Digital Crown to adjust numbers, and swipe to increment available digits.
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; 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.
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.
Night Sky (free + IAP)
We’re going to admit that Night Sky is a wee bit in ‘tech demo’ territory, but it deserves its place on this list as a great example of the potential in Apple Watch.
On launch, you align your watch’s display with the moon. Prod the moon to confirm, and it’s replaced with a map of the heavens. Constellations are auto-selected as you move; tap one to find out more about it.
This is all rather more ambitious than giving you some sunset times, and the odd notification about the ISS passing overhead.