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The Quest for Quality: Five of the Most Useful Apple Watch Apps

While Apple CEO Tim Cook recently confirmed that there are over 3,500 apps available for the Apple Watch, several reviewers and early adopters have complained that many fail to provide useful functionality on the wrist. Despite strict approval guidelines, the App Store for Apple Watch is cluttered with basic or poorly designed apps for the wrist-worn device, likely due in significant part to the apps having been developed before the Apple Watch was available.

To help users discover some high quality watch-based experiences, MacRumors reached out to its forum community and skimmed through the App Store to handpick five Apple Watch apps that we've found particularly useful. Some of the useful Apple Watch apps worth mentioning include Workflow, Philips Hue, Things, Calcbot and Clear.

Workflow

Workflow is an automation tool that enables you to drag and drop any combination of actions to create custom workflows for completing various tasks. You can, for example, use the app to get directions to nearby coffee shops within a preset radius directly on your Apple Watch. Workflows are created using a paired iPhone and automatically appear on the Apple Watch for one-tap use.

Workflow 3
Workflow features over 200 actions, including those for Contacts, Calendar, Maps, Music, Photos, Camera, Reminders, Safari, AirDrop, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote and iCloud Documents. The app, created by DeskConnect co-founders Ari Weinstein, Nick Frey and Conrad Kramer, is currently $2.99 on the App Store for iPhone and Apple Watch as part of a limited time 40% off sale.

Philips Hue

Philips Hue for Apple Watch displays up to 10 different lighting configurations for Hue lights that can be activated by pressing a circular button -- there's one button per screen, and you swipe between them. One minor inconvenience is that Hue has no Glance, so you have to actually open the app to turn on your lights, although it's a simple issue that could easily be addressed in a future update.

Philips Hue Apple Watch
You choose your desired scenes in the Hue for iPhone app in settings, where available scenes to choose from are listed under Widget & Apple Watch. Scenes you pick will be available on the Apple Watch and in Notification Center on iPhone if you have the widget turned on. The scenes will be the same in both places -- you can't pick different ones for the iOS widget and for the Apple Watch.

If you don't have a Hue Tap, quick selecting scenes on the Apple Watch is easily the fastest way to control your lights since the device is right on your wrist. With 10 scenes, there are a lot of options for controlling lighting all over the house. You can get more scenes by creating them on the iPhone or downloading them from the Meet Hue website.

Philips Hue for Apple Watch is free on the App Store.

Things

Things is one of several to-do apps available for the Apple Watch, displaying a list of day-to-day tasks and long-term goals on your wrist that can be assigned to categories, marked as completed or added to larger projects related to, for example, planning a vacation, preparing for a presentation or filing taxes.

Things-Apple-Watch
To-dos can be added directly from the Apple Watch using Siri dictation, and categorized under Inbox or Today with a single tap. Things for Apple Watch can also provide notifications to remind you about scheduled to-dos for a specified date so that you don't forget, and all tasks automatically sync to a paired iPhone.

Things for Apple Watch is $9.99 on the App Store.

Calcbot

Calcbot by Tapbots makes up for the lack of a stock calculator app on the Apple Watch, enabling you to perform basic calculations and conversions, calculate tips and split bills right on your wrist. The regular calculator mode features a basic numeric keypad, and a firm press using Force Touch brings up a menu with add, subtract, multiply and divide options.

The conversion mode brings up a similar looking number pad with options to convert US dollars to euros, pounds to kilograms, miles to kilometers and Fahrenheit to Celsius using Force Touch. Calcbot Pro, $2.29, enables users to customize the four conversion options using the Calcbot app for iPhone, with over 500 units across 22 different categories to choose from.

Calcbot-Apple-Watch
Perhaps the most useful functionality of Calcbot for Apple Watch is the tip calculator, which allows you to enter the total cost of your bill, calculate a 10% to 30% tip and divide the amount between up to 10 people if necessary. Apple Pay and Calcbot combined make the Apple Watch a more convenient option than fumbling with your iPhone and wallet when the check comes.

Calcbot for Apple Watch is free on the App Store.

Clear

The Apple Watch's small screen size is ideal for displaying bite-sized information, making Clear a perfect match for the wrist-worn device. Clear for Apple Watch brings tasks, reminders and to-do lists to your wrist, featuring a Glance that shows you how many items are on your list and displays upcoming reminders. Adding new tasks can be done using Siri dictation.

Clear-Apple-Watch
Tapping on the Glance brings you to the full Clear app, where you can view all of your lists on the Apple Watch. If you create your own list, such as a grocery list or task list, you can check off items directly on the watch. If you press firmly on a list using Force Touch, you can sort the list, add new tasks or mark all tasks completed.

Clear for Apple Watch is $4.99 on the App Store.

These are by no means the only useful Apple Watch apps available so far, and we encourage readers to share some of their other favorites in the discussion thread associated with this post. It is clear, however, that many developers have struggled to find the right balance and user experience for the new platform.

With the Apple Watch now available and users and developers able to figure out the best way for apps on the wrist to fit into their daily lives, there will no doubt be improvements to the user experience and we'll continue to watch for interesting and novel apps making their way to the Apple Watch.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 2, watchOS 3
Tag: Apple Watch apps
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)


Top Rated Comments

(View all)

15 months ago
Revolutionary! LOL. I still don't quite get it. I have a Smartwatch (Asus Zenwatch) and at first - I was having fun with apps like these, then I slowly started pulling my phone out because the UX is simply better and I have to have it on me at all times anyway.

There's this weird schism between what we want to do on the watches and what we want to do with our phones. I don't think this is a case of Google Wear being inferior, I just haven't seen the killer app for these things yet.
Rating: 29 Votes
15 months ago
I feel like when ever someone talks about what the watch can do, they need to always (yes, ALWAYS) put it in the context of why it's better to do it on the watch instead of the phone. Both devices are mobile. Both devices use apps. One screen is small on your wrist, the other is about 4-6 times larger in your pocket. Your pocket is about 10 inches from your watch.

So instead of saying "with the Apple Watch, you can use a calculator" you should say "using a calculator app on the watch is better than the one on your phone because...".

Right. There are really very, very few reasons doing an "app" on the wrist is better than the phone.
Rating: 20 Votes
15 months ago
Top Tip: while AppleWatch is charging-you won't be able to use certain Apps. However don't despair. Simply buy a small notepad. You can write down stuff that the other apps will do like:
Remind you to have a haircut
When to eat your next meal
Scribe some basic mathematical calculations
When your next important meeting is
Friends birthday dates
When to exercise and where
Contact phone numbers
Note down passwords etc
The list goes on.
This alternative utility does not need batteries or linking- to an iPhone of course so this could be a real boon a proper money saver?

Apple Stores do not sell them. But most newsagents do. And not too expensive either. A great standby utility when you're iPhone or Watch is inaccessible.
Rating: 19 Votes
15 months ago

I'm glad we're starting to see screenshots with the bezel. It is a little thing, but it's more attractive and easier to see the scale of the interface on the watch.


I added the bezels to the screenshot myself, glad you like them!
Rating: 15 Votes
15 months ago
When a calculator is the most useful app, you know you have problems justifying a multi hundred dollar device.
Rating: 15 Votes
15 months ago
I still haven't got my Apple Watch. FML.:mad:
Rating: 14 Votes
15 months ago

3. Dark Sky - Tells the weather in a cute and nice way?


Rating: 12 Votes
15 months ago
John Gruber says the updated MLB app makes it one of his favorite Watch apps now. Anyone have screen shots?

Oh and someone needs to ban the phrase "killer app". It's so meaningless. What's the killer app for the iPhone? The internet?
Rating: 9 Votes
15 months ago

Is the general consensus that this thing is not a must have device? Also, if you feel that way, is there something in particular that WOULD make it a must have device? Just curious, as a still interested but yet to take the plunge outsider.


Having had the Pebble since inception (original Kickstarter plastic, then Steel), the "must have" feature is not having to pull your phone out for every text, email, phone call...you can screen your notifications from your wrist. The busier you are, the more valuable this capability becomes. Once you get used to having these simple things on your wrist, at a glance, there's no going back, IMO. But Pebble can't get the software right. So while their hardware has some good features, the experience lacks an integrated "package" of software/hardware that I'm expecting Apple can deliver.

Looking forward to what Apple's Glances can bring to the table with respect to applications...I'm a heavy OmniFocus and Evernote user (productivity apps if you're not familiar with them), so expect useful capabilities there too. But the "must have" feature is the ability to leave your phone in your pocket unless needed.
Rating: 9 Votes
15 months ago

I must agree with Gruber, the updated MLB At-Bat is great because I can now get updates on all games with a quick glance without having to engage with my phone and I think we all know the stated reasons for times when engaging with your phone may not be appropriate or convenient.

You must have been reading my mind because I almost considered starting a thread asking why does the Watch need a so-called "killer app?" And my mind began to think back to 2007. I don't recall a killer app for iPhone. Even when the app store came about a year later, I don't recall any one app the masses generally found they couldn't do without other than as you allude to the phone harnessing the power of the Internet.

Now that I think about it, the way so many people on these forums complained about how the watch is "useless" without a paired phone, couldn't the same thing be said for iphone? How useful would it be if it weren't able to connect to the web in any way (WiFi or cellular)?


One could argue the killer app on the original iPhone was Safari. The killer "app" for the watch might be Siri.
Rating: 9 Votes

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