Best Apple Watch apps in 2021
(Pocket-lint) - The Apple Watch has been kicking around for many years now, and that means there are hundreds of apps to consider. As owners of the smartwatch will know, however, not all the apps are especially great - and that's where this guide comes in. Below, we've compiled are the best Apple Watch apps we've come across and tested; the ones that hold their own on the wrist-based display - now even bigger with the Apple Watch Series 7 - and deliver the information you need at-a-glance.
There's everything from games to productivity apps, all of which make the Apple Watch useful, rather than just a gimmick.
Best travel Apple Watch apps
If you fly a lot with British Airways, having your flight details on your wrist when at the airport is very handy. The BA Apple Watch app will provide you with gate details, whether the plane is on time and what the status of the flight is. It even goes as far as telling you the weather at your destination.
Citymapper's approach to its Apple Watch app is to let you quickly see the status of nearby public transport at the press of a few buttons.
It will also give you directions to your work address, or any saved addresses that you have preset using your iPhone using available public transport from your location and you can see real-time departures too. Quick and simple.
The Uber Apple Watch app is simple but effective. It doesn't offer as many features as your phone, such as fare estimates, but it will allow you to request an Uber from your wrist without touching your phone.
It will tell you how long the wait is for an Uber, switching between the various car choices.
Apple Maps doesn't have the best reputation but this app works well on the Apple Watch. You can ask Siri to direct you to a location using your Watch and the Apple Maps app will open, find the location and give you the option to press start. It will then give you step-by-step instructions on your wrist, vibrating to alert you when the next turn is coming up.
No iPhone is necessary.
Elk is a good currency converter app. It knows where you are and will automatically pick the right currency for you, along with a starting value. You can then swipe left to increase the values, swipe right to decrease them, or tap on a value for more accuracy.
There is a free version, as well as a paid-for version with access to all currencies.
Another for those that travel, or even for those just going on holiday. The iTranslate app will translate the words spoken into it when the microphone is pressed into the language you request at the bottom. There are numerous languages available and the translations are pretty accurate from our experience.
It will allow you to order a beer or find out where the toilet is at least.Pocket-lint
Best productivity Apple Watch apps
If you remember and loved Casio's calculator watch, PCalc is a must-have app for the Apple Watch. As you might guess, it is a calculator on your wrist. It's nice and simple, allowing you to add, subtract, divide and multiply, as well as calculate percentages directly from your wrist.
There is a Lite version that is free, but the paid version includes a paper tape, engineering and scientific notation, making it more useful than Apple's own calculator for Apple Watch.
Noted is an audio recording and note-taking app that allows you to record directly from your Apple Watch. You can start recording with one tap, pause the recording and add a Time Tag. The Time Tag feature is brilliant for pinpointing the more exciting parts of a recording so you can access it quickly later on your iPhone.
Things 3 is a paid-for organiser and reminder app with a lovely design.
You can add new To-Dos directly from your wrist and tick off the ones you've done. The app follows the Apple Ring look, showing you how close you are to completing your To-Dos for that day. It's a great one for those that love to be organised.
Pacemaker is a very basic DJ app that creates music mixes automatically from your iPhone and then allows you to add effects via four preset options on your watch.
Effects include distorting the music, making it sound like it is underwater, and smashing up the music. It's simple but fun and paired with a Bluetooth speaker makes things even more interesting.Pocket-lint
Best information Apple Watch apps
There are numerous apps you can download for the Apple Watch when it comes to weather but we found the native Apple weather app was perfectly adequate at providing quick and easy information on our wrist. For each place you have set up on the iPhone, the Apple Watch weather app will show you the hourly expected outlook.
It's easy to read and understand and it's quick to access.
If you fancy a more exciting take on the weather, the Carrot Weather Apple Watch app is fabulous. It offers access to current, hourly and daily forecasts but it delivers them with dialogue and characters, making things much more interesting. You can also disable the personality if it becomes too much.
Another weather app, but this one is like magic.
Dark Sky creates forecasts for your precise location, offering minute-by-minute predictions for the next hour and hour-by-hour forecasts for the next day and week. It will literally tell you to the minute if you're about to get rained on.
Find Near Me
The Find Near Me app allows you to find various amenities nearby where you are from your wrist. The list is pretty comprehensive with everything from ATMs and cafes to beauty salons and book stores.
Tap on what you need to find and a list of results will appear on your arm, each of which you can then tap on for more information and even directions.
If you've used Shazam you'll know how it works. You hear a track, fumble for your phone, and try to tap listen before the song finishes. With the Shazam Apple Watch app, you can simply slide up from a Glance, press the listen button and you're capturing the tune before you know it.
Night Sky is a great app for identifying stars, planets, constellations and satellites in the night sky.
Ever wondered which one Orion's Belt is? Just point your Apple Watch at the sky and it will direct you to it, after which you can explore the object in AR on your iPhone.
An essential app for the football fans out there. Onefootball allows you to follow thousands of teams and hundreds of leagues and competitions worldwide.
You can select your favourite players, clubs, national teams and leagues to get instant content and scores that matter to you when they happen.
Another great app for sports fans, the ESPN Apple Watch app gives you quick access to scores across football, cricket, F1, NBA, NFL, tennis, golf, MLB and more. Like Onefootball, you can personalise the app to get alerts for your favourite teams and leagues.
Yelp is a local guide to helps you find restaurants, bars, salons, coffee shops and plenty more nearby. You'll be able to see reviews, price range, opening hours and the address directly from your wrist.
Perfect for when you're in a new area.Pocket-lint
Best health and fitness Apple Watch apps
Fiit lets you stream hundreds of workouts, with options including HIIT, strength training, kettlebell, dumbbell, yoga, postnatal recovery and more. Signing up for a membership (GBP20/month) gives you unlimited access to 10, 25 and 40 minutes classes with personal trainers, whenever you want. Start a workout on your iPhone and you'll see your heart rate come up on your Apple Watch, along with a leaderboard on the next screen.
If you are wearing the Apple Watch for fitness, Runkeeper is a good one to download.
It allows you to start the app straight from your wrist, without even looking at your iPhone. Open the app, press "start running" and off you go. Once you've started running you can check a number of stats, including overall time, distance covered and pace.
Strava is an excellent app and the Apple Watch version is great.
Like others, Strava allows you to start an activity from your wrist, such as an outdoor ride or run, or indoor run. It will then offer time, splits, distance and heart rate on your wrist during the workout. All data is transferred to the iPhone app following a workout so you can see more detail.
Streaks Workout app is excellent, offering 30 equipment-free exercises to choose from and four different workout lengths comprising six minutes, 12 minutes, 18 minutes or 30 minutes.
The Apple Watch will display your heart rate on the display, alongside the exercise, time and progress. Super simple to use, but expect some serious pain.
The Gymaholic Workout Tracker uses AR to create an avatar, which you can then change to represent your gender, height and body fat percentage. After a workout, the avatar will show all the muscles you trained and it will also show which muscles are ready for training too.
During a workout, you'll see various stats, including reps, weight, heart rate and calories, alongside your avatar. It's great.
MapMyRun is another good Apple Watch app for those into fitness. It allows you to start a running, cycling or walking workout without touching your iPhone.
During the workout, you will be able to see duration, distance and calories burned, as well as pause, finish, save or discard the workout. The information is then visible in the MapMyRun iPhone app.
Runtastic allows you to track various activities from running to biking, see a brief history of your previous workouts and monitor your stats from your wrist. The app will track workouts in real-time with built-in GPS and during a workout, it will display time, distance, pace and heart rate.
It is also possible to manage tracking settings directly from your Apple Watch.
Withings Health Mate
For those that use the Withings ecosystem, the Withings Apple Watch app is good for providing quick stats in a simple format. If you have a Withings activity and sleep tracker, as well as one of its smart scales, the Apple Watch app will show you steps and distance, sleep recorded and weight recorded. You can also see your activity and weight history without opening the app on your phone.
Seven is another workout app and the Apple Watch version is lovely and simple.
You can pretty much do everything on your wrist as you can on your phone. The Apple Watch app allows you to select which seven-minute workout you want to do, whether that's full-body, upper body, core, lower body or random, depending on which workouts you've bought or unlocked, and then you can just hit start. A picture of the exercise you need to perform appears on the watch face, surrounded by a countdown circle.
Hole19 is the Apple Watch app for golfers.
You'll need to start a round on your iPhone after which the Watch will take the information and deliver it to you when you need it, such as distances and the par of the hole. The app also allows you to enter strokes and putts via your wrist, which it then puts into a scorecard so you can see how you're doing nice and easily.
Autosleep does exactly what it says on the tin - it automatically tracks your sleep if you wear your Apple Watch to bed. You don't need to press a single button.
Wear your Apple Watch to sleep and you'll get a notification in the morning detailing how well you've slept, including quality, average heart rate and deep sleep. The app will also show your seven-day average.
One Drop is a great app for those with diabetes. It enables you to log glucose, meds, food and activity directly from your wrist, as well as view daily goals progress and glucose in range.
You can also schedule medication reminders and there is automatic carb counting too.Pocket-lint
Best Apple Watch games
No list of apps would be complete without a couple of games and Trivia Crack is one of our favourites. It's a very basic version of Trivial Pursuit but if you're any good at general knowledge, it's a great app to try. You compete with an online opponent and choose from six categories of questions.
Answers are multiple-choice, which you select on your wrist and you don't even need to get your iPhone out to start a game.
Brainess is all about stimulating your brain and it offers seven brain training games that you can play on your Apple Watch. The games include memorising and tapping dice, choosing the correct number to complete a maths equation and matching pairs of identical cards. The seven games are said to improve and exercise your memory, vision and compute skills. Whether they will or not is a different story altogether but worth a try right.
Rules is a puzzle game with super cute little animations.
There are different levels, comprising beginner, expert or timeless and the game includes a daily brain workout mini-game for the Apple Watch.
Lifeline 2 is the successor to the original Lifeline, offering a new story of a young woman called Arika who is on a deadly quest to avenge her parents and rescue her long-lost brother. You will have to make choices to keep her alive and help her succeed.Pocket-lint
Best finance Apple Watch apps
Wallet is one of Apple's own apps so you'd expect it to be good on the Apple Watch and it is. Like the iPhone version, it provides easy access to boarding passes, tickets and cards you've registered to Apple Pay.
Having your boarding pass and tickets on your wrist means you don't have to mess about getting your phone out, which is always good when travelling and you can also pay using your wrist.
There are plenty of apps trying to help you stay on top of your finances but we've taken a liking to the Pennies Apple Watch app, which lets you quickly tap in how much you've spent of a given budget target straight on your wrist. It means you can then track how much you've got left, whether that's keeping an eye on your weekly food bill, or as we would like to imagine, your champagne bar bill.Pocket-lint
Best smart home Apple Watch apps
The Philips Hue app is a simple remote control that lets you have a number of lighting presets that you can then control directly from your watch. You don't even need to pick up your iPhone to turn the lights on now, let alone move from the sofa.
IFTTT (If This Then That) is compatible with over 600 apps from Twitter and Instagram to Nest and Hive.
The Apple Watch app doesn't allow you to create new Applets, such as turn the lights on at sunset, but download various Widgets through the main IFTTT iPhone app and you can activate any of them through the Apple Watch app.
Got a Neato robot vacuum cleaner? The Neato Apple Watch app allows you to start and stop and clean. You can't get the Neato robot to return to the dock or anything from your wrist so it's basic functionality, but it's still a useful app to start that quick clean.
Best social media Apple Watch apps
Facebook might not be available for Apple Watch but Messenger is so you can get access to all your Facebook Messenger chats.
You'll be able to reply with stickers, or a voice recording or a pre-written message so you can stay in touch without having to get your phone out at all.
Chirp for Twitter
Chirp for Twitter is pretty much the only way you'll be using Twitter on your Apple Watch. The app allows you to browse your timeline, lists, like and retweet things. You can also see quotes, pictures, hashtags and mentions directly from your wrist.
Writing by Britta O'Boyle.
Editing by Conor Allison.
Originally published on 29 April 2015.