The best Apple Watch apps: from fitness tracking to mini games

Make sure you benefit from the best wrist action with our list the top Apple Watch Apps

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Apple Watches have a multitude of uses – whether it's tracking your heart rate, allowing you to take calls (quite literally) on the run or flashing up the latest notifications from your phone. But those functions are, at the end of the day, just the basics. In actual fact, there’s a huge array of apps out there that have been designed exclusively for the Apple Watch which extend its capabilities exponentially.

There is, without a doubt, almost an app for everything, whether it’s informing you about the weather, telling you the best directions to avoid traffic or helping you to ask where the pub is in one of the world’s most obscure languages.

Most of the apps that we feature in our list are compatible with Apple Watch series 1, 2 and 3, so long as you have the latest update, aside from Swim.com, which isn’t suitable for the series 1 due to its less superior waterproofing.

Our list features a range of paid and free apps to cover everyone’s approach to buying apps. While some people may feel like they’re grabbing a bargain with a free app, others would rather fork out a couple of quid on the in app purchase premium version, just so they don’t have to deal with adverts popping up every few minutes. 

Paying an extra couple of quid for the premium version can also unlock the true potential of the app’s features, such is with our number one app, Carrot, which adds a touch of snark to otherwise incredibly mundane weather updates. 

As you probably very well know, apps for Apple devices are only available to download from the (excuse use) app-tly named App Store, so whether you’re an Apple Watch newbie or you're looking for your next amusing feature, discover the best Apple Watch apps on the App Store by reading on below. 

The best Apple Watch app

1. Carrot Weather

Suddenly, talking about the weather just got interesting

Specifications
Best for: Snarky weather reports
Type: Weather
In app purchases: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Weather reports based on live data+View current, hourly and daily forecasts
Reasons to avoid
-You may not ‘get’ some of the snark

The topical conversation of the weather is usually reserved for the slightly awkward telephone exchange between yourself and the dull grandparent that you've avoided speaking to for the last year. Carrot, however, makes the topic of the weather surprisingly interesting, adopting a character of its own to deliver slightly snarky updates that you may or may not find amusing. 

The app has a serious side to it, too; using the latest data collected from Dark Sky, it can give you current, hourly and daily weather updates, including an accurate heads up for any oncoming precipitation to the minute! Apple Watch owners can also benefit from the premium upgrade, which will allow you to receive precipitation and severe weather alerts right to your wrist.

Strava

2.Strava

Frequent runner or cyclist? Give Strava a go

Specifications
Best for: Fitness tracking
Type: Tracker
In app purchases: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Great for running, cycling and walking+Includes personal challenges to help you achieve more
Reasons to avoid
- Series 1 users will still have to take their phone out with them 

The Apple Watch has been created with fitness as one of its main design influences. As such, there’s a host of fitness apps out there to exploit its capabilities, but Strava comes out on top. On a basic level, it tracks the distance, pace, speed, elevation and calories burned while you exercise and can operate as a separate entity from your iPhone, so long as you have either the Apple Watch series 2 or 3. 

On a more advanced level, with Segments, you can analyse separate parts of your run or cycle, such as that steep hill or that long straight, great if you’re looking to improve personal bests. You can also upload your data to your profile and share your latest stats with friends for some healthy competition, and you can pay for the premium versions for more advanced features.  

ETA

3. ETA

Instantly works out your estimated travel time so you can keep track of your schedule

Specifications
Best for: Travelling
Type: Traffic app
In app purchases: No
Reasons to buy
+Gives you real time traffic conditions+Links up to Google Maps
Reasons to avoid
- Doesn’t have internal map capabilities 

While, in all honesty, you could open Google Maps, type in your destination, load up your preferred route and check the time it’ll take for you to get there, ETA, does a far quicker job of doing things. Using your pre-loaded routes, it’ll automatically keep track of the traffic conditions and update your screen so you can check out the journey time before heading off, great if you travel around for work.  

Using symbols, it’ll tell you the current traffic conditions and let you know the best times to take the route to avoid being caught up in a jam. The downside is that it doesn’t work independently from map apps, so you’ll still need them installed on your watch if you’re looking for directions. 

Just Press Record

4. Just Press Record

Never let something slip your mind again

Specifications
Best for: Recording memos
Type: Recorder
In app purchases: No
Reasons to buy
+Unlimited recording time+Operate from the lock screen widget
Reasons to avoid
- You can’t record from the Apple AirPods if using the Apple Watch 

How many times have you thought about something then almost instantaneously forgotten about it? Thanks to the convenience of Just Press Record, you can keep all of your memos in one place to remind you of hastily arranged meetings, shopping items, or pick up times. 

The app can work independently from your phone, which is great if you need to record something quickly when out and about. Any memos are then automatically transferred to your phone, where they can be transcribed into text for easy referencing at a later date.  

Lifeline

5. Lifeline

An intricate story, where you control the plot from your wrist

Specifications
Best for: Mini game
Type: Interactive story
In app purchases: No
Reasons to buy
+The outcome of the story depends on your decisions+Make the decision from the lock screen, rather than launching the app
Reasons to avoid
-Sometimes long gaps as the story develops

Sometimes it’s far more favourable to play a game during a few minutes of spare time rather than pick up a book. This ‘game’ however, combines the two concepts and manifests itself as an interactive story where you can control the plot and the outcome of the character’s destiny. 

Lifeline develops in real time, with the character carrying out tasks over a realistic time period, sending notifications to you throughout the day. Reviewers report a connection and responsibility towards the character of the story, almost like the way in which you can develop a connection with a character in a traditional book, which makes it a great compromise if you’re having a mental battle between the two.  

iTranslate Converse

6. iTranslate Converse

In a sticky situation abroad? You can use iTranslate to get out of it

Specifications
Best for: Travellers
Type: Translator
In app purchases: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Translate from English to multiple languages+Translate multiple languages into English
Reasons to avoid
- Purchase premium version after free-trial period 

A language barrier is often tricky to overcome, especially when it develops into an erratic game of charades as you try and gesture that you’ve missed the bus and you need to know when the next one is going to come along. iTranslate allows you to bash through the barrier somewhat, as you can speak to it in English and it translates to your desired language as you speak. It will then translate someone’s response back to you in English so you’re both on the same page. 

A bonus is that it’s pretty good at recognising words even when there’s lots of background noise, while the almost real time translation time means awkward pauses are kept to a minimum. Bear in mind that once the free-trial period is over, you’ll need to buy a subscription, so perhaps this is one for the frequent traveller. 

Swim.com

7. Swim.com

Swimming isn’t often covered by generic fitness apps, so here’s a specialist app just for it

Specifications
Best for: Swimmers
Type: Data tracker
In app purchases: No
Reasons to buy
+Thousands of customisable workouts available+Detects your stroke and records accordingly
Reasons to avoid
-Just for swimming

With the waterproofing of Apple Watches series 2 and 3, you can now track your swimming as well as your land sports, great if you’re training for a triathlon.  You can choose one of the workouts and adapt it to suit your session so you benefit from the best possible training. Swim.com will also detect the stroke you’re doing and count how many you do during your session so you can self motivate and beat your personal best. 

Thanks to the online leaderboard, you can upload your results and see where you’re performing among other swim club members and even the rest of the world. With all of its functions considered, avid swimmers will certainly benefit from this app.  

Rules!

8. Rules!

A daily brain workout from your watch

Specifications
Best for: Fast paced game
Type: Memory game
In app purchases: No
Reasons to buy
+Daily brain workout+Fast paced
Reasons to avoid
- Not an intricate game 

It’s nice to have a game that you can rely on to fill those awkward moments when you’re standing on your own in the middle of the street waiting for someone, or when you’ve got fifteen minutes to take a quick lunch and don’t have enough time to commit to anything else. 

Featuring a daily brain workout specifically for Apple Watch wearers and lots of mini games to get you thinking during down time, it’s no surprise that Rules! has won a bunch of awards for its creativity. With three modes to choose from, including beginner, expert and continuous, you can test your brain to the preferred level and keep games going when you’ve got time to fill.