We’ve come to love the apps we carry with us everyday on our iPhones, and with the launch of the Apple Watch we now have a whole new world of applications to enjoy on our wrists. Developers have been hard at work for months exploring the possibilities that wrist-worn applications can unlock, and the Apple Watch, which begins shipping to pre-order customers today, is arriving with thousands of available third-party applications.
That said, not every app we love on our phones will be a good fit for the Watch. By its very nature, the Apple Watch is meant to be used for quick interactions such as notifications and glanceable information. Apps for the Watch should follow this premise, giving users the ability to quickly check information or accomplish simple tasks without having to hold up their wrist for minutes at a time.
Some early apps will understand this and work great, and others won’t. As with any new product, it’s going to take time for developers and wearers to figure out what kinds of apps are best suited to a watch. If you’re wondering what apps will work best on your new Apple Watch today, and what cool new things you can do with it, I’ve got a few suggestions that I’m looking forward to trying out myself.
Though it may not be well suited to reading entire news articles, Breaking News apps will play an important role on the Apple Watch. While notifications from your phone will keep you connected to your personal world, apps from The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, Circa, and others will provide a snapshot of what’s happening around the world.
Notifications and Glances with top headlines and breaking news alerts will pop-up throughout the day, and most news apps will allow you to instantly save articles for later reading on your phone.
Some news apps are experimenting with bite-sized stories pushed to the Watch. The New York Times will deliver what they call “one sentence stories” complete with descriptive emoji. Circa’s unique and revered style for tracking updates to news stories will serve Watch wearers well, pushing only the latest bits of information from stories you’re actually interested in following.
Travel and Transit apps will be a great convenience on the Apple Watch. Transit App, which currently supports transit systems in 92 metro areas, provides Watch wearers with departure times for nearby routes and access to directions for getting around town.
Citymapper recently launched in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver with an Apple Watch app that provides step-by-step directions for navigating on foot and public transit, as well as a Glance for service interruptions.
If transit’s not your thing, Uber is launching a Watch app that will allow you to call a cab to your location with a single tap.
Local food and Check-in apps should be a great fit for the wrist. I enjoy checking in on Swarm and Facebook, but I always forget to do it when I’m out somewhere cool.
With Apple Watch, a gentle tap on the wrist or the mere sight of your Watch could serve as a reminder to take a second and check in.
Likewise, Foursquare, Zomato and Yelp will become much more accessible for quickly finding a nice restaurant or trendy coffee shop in the area.
Social Media apps might be a harder sell for the Watch, as they tend to require longer periods of interaction. Anything with a full news feed replicated on your wrist won’t work, which is why I’m intrigued by the approach Twitterrific is taking.
Rather than displaying your full feed, Twitterrific displays glanceable stats from your Twitter account, including your 25 most recent replies, mentions, DMs, favourites, retweets, and new followers, all of which you can take simple actions on.
Keeping track of Reminders and To-Do Lists may also be a great use of the Apple Watch. Besides Apple’s stock Reminders, I enjoy using Due on my iPhone for its persistence. Due sends recurring notifications until you mark a task as complete, and having that consistently buzz my wrist will certainly act as a motivator to actually complete tasks.
Likewise, imagine the convenience of having Clear or Things serve as a grocery list on your wrist. Much easier than deal with a grocery basket and a phone at the same time.
Controlling Music and Podcast Playback is another use case I’m personally interested in. I take public transit every day, and am constantly taking my phone out to change podcast episodes or skip around then putting it away again.
With Overcast and the Now Playing glance on my wrist, I’m looking forward to keeping my iPhone in my pocket or bag while being able to control my audio. I’m surprised we’ve yet to see Apple Watch support from the major players in streaming music, like Spotify and Rdio.
As one of the “three pillars” of the Apple Watch, Health and Fitness capabilities will be a major selling point of the device. Beyond Apple’s built-in Health, Activity, and Workout tracking apps, developers have created numerous third-party fitness applications and ecosystems to work on the Apple Watch.
Pedometer++ from David Smith is a simple step-counting app that relies on the motion chip in your iPhone. The Watch app displays your current days steps along with a snapshot of the last 7 days, making it easier than ever to check your progress at a glance. If you’re invested in the Runtastic or RunKeeper ecosystems, their Apple Watch app will let you start and track workouts from your wrist, while syncing with the iPhone app.
We’re still in the early days of Apple Watch development, and there will be bugs and annoyances to deal with now that will hopefully be worked out with time. Apple has promised a fully native Watch SDK by the end of this year, which will broaden the horizon for what Apple Watch apps can accomplish. For now, Apple Watch wearers will have lots of uses for their new wearable and plenty of great third-party apps to try out.