Since the Apple Watch first launched in 2015, thousands of third-party apps have been added to the platform. And with each consecutive upgrade, the list of the best apps continues to expand.
While the Apple Watch comes with a suite of first-party apps, like the newly re-branded Mindfulness app for watchOS 8, a fully-integrated app for sleep tracking and access to workout classes through the Apple Fitness+ subscription service, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find applications for every kind of niche.
There are apps for productivity as well as ones for procrastinating, apps for mapping runs and those for travelling. There’s also apps for tracking your hydration levels and even your poop – yes, you read that correctly.
Basically, if you need an app that can track and monitor something specific, it won’t take you long to find exactly what you need.
Whether you’ve just been inducted into the Apple Watch cabal and are sporting the new Apple Watch series 7 with its larger display and fast charging smarts, or you’ve been wearing an Apple Watch for years, we’ve rounded up the best apps for getting the most out of your high-tech timekeeper.
How we tested
There are hundreds of productivity, workout and gaming apps out there, it’s a mammoth task to sift through them all. But we’ve beavered through the apps highlighted in the Apple Watch App Store and sifted through the fledgling upstarts to find the hidden gems.
We’ve used the apps going about our daily lives, testing them to see how well they perform at their intended job. If one truly excels, there’s a good chance that it’s on this list. That’s not all, though. The app needs to work well on a small screen, no matter how large Apple makes the display – and you won’t find lousy ports of iPhone apps on this list. All of these apps are available in the UK. Some are free, some have in-app purchases and some come with a price, but they truly are the best.
The best Apple Watch apps of 2022 are:
- Best all-round fitness app – Apple Fitness+: £9.99 per month, Apple.com
- Best running app – Nike run club: Free, Apple.com
- Best sleep tracking app – AutoSleep: £4.49, Apple.com
- Best travel app – Citymapper: Free, Apple.com
- Best for keeping hydrated – WaterMinder: £4.49, Apple.com
- Best for productivity – Focus: Free (with in-app purchases), Apple.com
- Best weather app – Carrot Weather: Free (with in-app purchases), Apple.com
- Best for forming habits – Streaks: £4.49, Apple.com
- Best Apple Watch browser – µBrowser: £0.89, Apple.com
- Best app for relaxing – Coloring Watch: £2.49, Apple.com
- Best for killing time – Arcadia: £1.79, Apple.com
- Best for tracking your poop – GoPoop: Free (with in-app purchases), Apple.com
Best: All-round fitness app
We’re really not exaggerating when we say this, but Fitness+ is one of the best services Apple has ever made. It’s a guided workout subscription service, led by qualified instructors – shoutout to Kyle – and spans everything from HIIT, dance and yoga classes to strength training, treadmill runs and guided meditation. You technically don’t need an Apple Watch to use Fitness+, but you do need one to set it up in the first place, and your experience is massively enhanced if you do use it with the watch.
As you work out alongside Apple’s coaches, your Apple Watch tracks your movement, heart rate, calories burned and workout length, with those stats being shown in real-time on your iPhone, iPad or on the big screen through your Apple TV. There’s also Time to Walk, where you’re invited to get outdoors and virtually walk alongside a celebrity as they tell you a story.
You can get a three-month free trial with any new Apple Watch purchase, then it’s £9.99 per month or £79.99 per year.
Best: Running app
If you’re a keen runner, you’re not going to want to leave the house without the Nike run club app downloaded onto your wrist. The tracker gives you stats on your current running speed, the distance you’ve travelled, your heart rate, mile splits and the route you’ve taken. But you’ve also got the option of guided runs, so you’ve got a coach in your ear, motivating you to keep going. And it’s not just for running veterans either, you can get guided coaching even if you’re just starting out. It’s all well-optimised for the Apple Watch, showing off all your running stats in bold font. Best of all, it’s free.
Best: Sleep tracking app
The Apple Watch has had native sleep tracking since Apple watchOS 7, but it’s pretty basic in its functionality, and is aimed more at helping you create good bedtime behaviours. AutoSleep tracks the quality of your sleep, giving you detailed data on when you were sleeping lightly, sleeping deeply, reports on your oxygen saturation (SpO2) and heart rate. You don’t have to press any buttons to start tracking either, it starts analysing your sleep as soon as you put your head down on the pillow. Once you start using AutoSleep, you’ll gain so much insight into how you’re sleeping, you won’t want to stop using it.
Best: Travel app
If you’re one of the millions of people who use Citymapper to get around, you’re going to love the Apple Watch app. Just like on the iPhone, you’ll be able to plot your journey, see live train and bus times and get route alerts right from your wrist. The Apple Watch app has a clutter-free UI that shows you exactly which train and bus to get, when exactly it’s coming, where to get off at and where you should go next. It’s clean, easy to follow and gives you all the pertinent information based on where you’re standing.
Best: For keeping hydrated
If you keep forgetting to drink up while you’re off clattering away at work on the keyboard, then WaterMinder is the app for you. WaterMinder is a water intake tracker that reminds you to drink. You can choose a water intake goal or have it recommended based on your body weight. It’s easy to record and visualise how much you’re drinking thanks to the Apple Watch app, which also has a watch face complication. You’re also able to see historical data of your water intake at a glance, both graphically and as a percentage.
‘Focus’: Free (with in-app purchases), Apple.com
Best: Productivity app
Not to be confused with the new “focus mode” feature on your Apple Watch, this is an entirely different third-party app aimed at helping you stay productive while working. If you’re familiar with the Pomodoro technique, you’ll be a fan of Focus, which helps you split your day into 25 minute chunks with five-minute breaks in between each. The Apple Watch app helps you keep time with just a glance, with reminders to take a break. It’s an elegant little productivity app perfect for busy bees.
‘Carrot Weather’: Free (with in-app purchases), Apple.com
Best: Weather app
It’s the sarkiest weather app around, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Apple Watch app of the year award winner in 2021, Carrot Weather is a super customisable app with a huge number of data points available. The current, hourly, daily and seven-day forecasts, delivered alongside witty dialogue, is easy to view and completely free, as well as easy location-switching and access to the secret locations feature. But if you want weather alert notifications and access to the cool complications, you’re going to have to subscribe to Carrot’s premium subscription.
Best: For forming habits
This is an app perfect for maintaining new habits, such as remembering to floss your teeth or call your mum. You can create tasks that you’d like to complete every day, on a specific date or for a specific duration. If you complete the task, you build up a streak, which encourages you to keep going. It’s easy to mark tasks complete through the nifty little Apple Watch app, and the watch face complications are well-integrated, so you can quickly see how long you have left to complete a task. Simple but effective.
Best: Apple Watch browser
The Apple Watch isn’t the most ideal device for browsing the web, but now that the Apple Watch 7’s screen is slightly bigger, anything is possible. If you really want to browse the web from your watch, then you can’t go wrong with µBrowser. It works particularly well on news sites like The Independent, although you might run into some issues with images loading and custom fonts not rendering.
You can access sites quickly with the watch face complications, and manage your bookmarks through the iOS companion app. Only issue is that it’s hard to search for the app in the Apple Watch App Store because of that Greek letter, but searching for “uBrowser” should do the trick.
Best: For relaxing
This one’s designed specifically for the Apple Watch. It’s a colouring book for your wrist, featuring over 100 different images for you to colour in. The colours can be tuned using the digital crown, and we’re big fans of the mindfulness mode. You start five-minute colouring sessions while the app tracks your heart rate and you get to see how it changed over the course of the session.
It’s really good if you’re stressed or just need a calming moment to colour in a pretty picture, and it contributes to your mindfulness minutes in the Health Kit app. All pictures can be used as part of your watch face too which is a nice additional touch.
Best: For killing time
We didn’t know that gaming on an Apple Watch could be this fun until we downloaded Arcadia onto it. There are 21 classic arcade games with a twist, and they’re all perfectly optimised for playing on your Apple Watch. You’ve got “BrickOut” (basically Breakout), “Galaxy Invaders” (basically Space Invaders) and, our favourite, “RainBowling” – which is basically bowling, but obstacles get in your way. It’s a lot of fun for a bunch of minigames played on your wrist.
‘GoPoop’: Free (with in-app purchases), Apple.com
There are apps to track literally everything, so don’t be surprised to see a poop tracker on this list. With GoPoop, you can track the shape (with some gross-looking pictures of poop), the colour, how easy it was to pass, how long it lasts and the weight of your poop (if you have that information). It’s actually slightly horrifying seeing the last poop timer count down on your wrist, no matter how long ago you went to the toilet. There’s also a premium tier, which gives you trends on your stools. This can be found in the iOS app, so it isn’t an Apple Watch feature. It’s the tracker you didn’t know you needed.
The verdict: Apple Watch apps
The Apple Watch is over seven years old now and over its lifetime, better and better apps have come out. One of the best Apple Watch apps is still Apple’s Fitness+ subscription service. The way you can see your activity progress in real-time on the screen with your Apple TV is mind-blowing.
We’re also still big fans of the Nike run club app. But, if you’re looking to kill time on your watch, then we’d recommend the Arcadia app, which is a chock full of neat games. Or if you’re looking to track your body even more, then you can’t go wrong with apps such as WaterMinder, AutoSleep and even GoPoop.
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If you’re looking for an accessory that tracks exercise, read our review of the best fitness trackers