Playing around with the basics is natural when you first set up your Apple Watch, and that includes exploring watch faces and complications.
And though the smartwatch may not support third-party watch faces, there’s an extensive library of Apple’s own options of sift through. Anybody looking for a set of top Apple Watch faces to keep in their dock certainly isn’t short of choice.
Essential reading: Top Apple Watch tips and tricksBelow, we’ll be highlighting some of the best to choose from, as well as giving you the rundown on complications and instructions on how you can customize everything to your taste.
The easiest way to change the face is by sliding your finger left or right across the screen and scrolling though the different options. If you don’t want to go through endless cycling between your favorites, however, you can also force touch the screen to add and choose from a wider library.Be aware that this on-watch list isn’t the full library comprehensive list, though; you’ll have to hit the + option on the far right to add new watch faces from the catalogue. This can also be accessed through Apple Watch companion app, where the full Face Gallery is available to add selections to your watch manually.
What are Apple Watch complications?Complications are the tiny, customizable widgets that appear on watch face and offer a way to personalise your Watch experience – and with the Apple Watch Series 4, they’ve been cranked up another notch.
The great thing about complications is that they give you the information you want in an instant – say, for example, a small look at your battery level to save you from swiping to get it. To change them, simply hit the ‘Customize’ prompt when switching between faces; this allows you to edit the colours, design elements and complications of each watch face and have them saved into the on-watch library.
Best Apple Watch faces for 2019There are now tons of Apple Watch faces on offer, and the great thing is how customisable they all are. Below, we’ve highlighted our top picks, though make sure to play around with the complications on each and have a good crop of options in your on-watch library that you can switch between when you get bored.
1. InfographFor those obsessed with complications, the Infograph has been sent from watch face heaven – and it’s our pick for the best Apple Watch face you can download.
It can support up to eight complications, including the new corner ones, which make use of the redesigned Series 4 to show extra information – check out the weather in the top-right with current, min and max temperatures on show. The middle offers shortcuts to common apps as well, such as Activity and Music.
2. Infograph ModularA second data-heavy addition is Infograph Modular, and it’s a close runner-up to the regular Infograph face. With six complication spots, the three icons at the bottom can be changed to common contacts, to enable you to make calls straight from the Watch. Corner complications are out, but you can make use of the middle modular unit, which can even include boarding passes from Quantas, heart rate data and Citymapper commuting alerts.
3. BreatheThe Breathe watch face apes the design of the app, using the same animations. You can pollute the tranquility with complications if you wish, although it does ruin the calm. Tap on the watch face and you’ll jump straight to the Breathe app for a guided session. Certainly good for those who are keen to get some mindfulness in their day.
4. Fire and WaterNew through watchOS 5, the Vapor, Fire and Water watch faces are for the more creative Apple Watch user. So keen were Apple to up the realism, each of these watch faces are actually captured from real photography. It makes for a pretty cool watch face – and one of the nicest visual effects you’ll see.
5. PrideFor those attending Pride – or looking to show some support to LGBT brothers and sisters – the Pride watch face is what you need. It’s minimalist and has a lush animation that transitions those rainbow lines from thin ribbons into strong bars. You can adjust the single complication as well, and third parties can get in on the act too.
6. ActivityYou’re looking to lose some weight and want to track your activity and calories on your journey. That’s why we’ve got the Workout complication up top ready for your next workout, a heart rate complication on the other side so you can check in on your vitals and the Lose It! complication down at the bottom letting you know how you’re doing on the food front. The digital activity face is the centerpiece here, so you can easily keep track of your beloved rings, calories, exercise minutes and stand hours.
7. Activity AnalogueIf you’re big on running, the Activity Analogue watch face is your workout buddy. You’ve also got Apple’s stock Workout app alongside the more fully-featured Runtastic. And finally, there’s Lifesum up at the top, which will help you keep an eye on your water intake. If you’re hitting the weight room, the Gymatic Apple Watch app also has a complication worth considering.
8. SiriIf you’re looking for an assistant to be proactive about your day and what you need to get done, you’re not going to find a better watch face. The Siri complication sits up at the top, so if you need to get something done and don’t have your iPhone around she’ll do it. Below, you’ll see a carousel of guidance, notifications and more.
9. SimpleIf you’re in Apple’s ecosystem that might also include some smart home tech, which is why we’ve added the HomeKit complication, while you’ve also got quick access to Remote if you want to control your Apple TV. And of course, don’t forget a handy timer. Home sweet home.
10. Mickey MouseJust let loose and click on Mickey, he’ll tell you the time. Don’t be afraid to swap in the Toy Story gang if you prefer some Pixar, by the way. Get the weather from the sarcastic Carrot, use Magic Guide for theme park ride times, and hatch your Pokemon with Pokemon Go – all at the same time. See also Minnie Mouse and Toy Story.
11. NumeralsYou don’t need much. You’re simple – but classy. You just want the time and date, and you want it in the sleekest way possible. Take on the Numerals watch face, get a nice calm colour going, and then strut your stuff.
12. KaleidoscopeIf you’re looking to calm yourself, or just even want to zone out, your best bet is the Kaleidoscope face. Head to the Watch companion app and choose your own picture, then choose a design (we’ve got Radial here) and get your own custom piece of art on your wrist. We’ve gone with the Breathe and Heart Rate complications up at the top, so you’re just a tap away from total zen at all times.
13. PhotosSmartphone cameras have become pretty damn good, and sometimes you’re going to take a picture that’s so good you love to look at it a lot. It could be the Golden Gate Bridge or your significant other, but it’s a photo that just centres you, ya know? That’s what this face is for. We’ve also gone with a simple calendar complication below that, but you can get rid of that if you’d prefer to have your view less obstructed.
More Apple Watch guides
Playing around with the basics is natural when you first set up your Apple Watch, and that includes exploring watch faces and complications.
One of the newest features that has come to the Apple Watch is Walkie-Talkie – a feature that lets owners communicate from smartwatch to smartwatch.
It’s not a million miles away from how a regular walkie-talkie would work, though, as we say, this will only work between two Apple Watch devices. And though no headphones are required, you will need a Wi-Fi or cellular connection.
Essential reading: Apple Watch tips and tricksWant to learn what else there is to know about Walkie-Talkie, including steps on how to set up and use it? Below, we’ve detailed everything.
Set up Walkie-Talkie on the Apple WatchWhat you need1. Make sure your Apple Watch is running watchOS 5 or later.2. An Apple Watch Series 1 or later, which means owners of the original Apple Watch are left out of this one.
3. If you’ve ticked both of the above boxes, you’ll find the Walkie-Talkie app is pre-installed on the Watch and ready to go. All you need to do is open it up and get cracking.
Add and remove contacts on Walkie-TalkieTo get adding friends and family to Walkie-Talkie, open up the app and do the following:
1. Tap the plus icon at the bottom of your list of contacts.2. Scroll through the list of contacts. Note that it will give you Suggested names at the top – these are all the people who already have Walkie-Talkie set up.3. Tap the contact you want to add. The box will stay grey and display the word “Invited” until they accept.4. Once your friend has accepted your invitation, their box will turn yellow.
To remove a pending invitation, simply swipe left on their name box and tap the red cross. Same goes for any contacts you want to remove.
Invitations you receive will appear as notifications, which give you the option of accepting the invite for a one-off chat or to “Always allow”, which means they’ll be able to contact you any time your status is set to available.
How to talk to someone with Walkie-Talkie on the Apple WatchYou’ve added a friend and you’re both ready for some classic conversation. Here’s how to start chatting:
1. Open the Walkie-Talkie app and tap on the contact you want to chat with.2. A Talk button should appear. Tap it and the Watch will try to make a connection. If it says Connecting, give it a second to establish the line.3. As soon as contact is made, hold a finger on the button and speak into the Watch and the other person should hear you. Release it to let them respond – and back and forth you go. Just like old times, eh?
To adjust the volume at any time, just scroll the Digital Crown, as if you were doing it for music.
Adjusting your availability statusLook, there are going to be times that you don’t want people dropping impromptu messages to your wrist. In those instances, you can make yourself unavailable to all your contacts.
Just open the Walkie-Talkie app and swipe to the top. You’ll see a toggle appear, which you can tap to make yourself available/unavailable.
There’s another way to do this, which you might prefer. You can simply swipe up from the clock face to get into Control Center and tap the Walkie-Talkie icon there, instead.
More Apple Watch explainers
If you’re the owner of an Apple Watch – or wondering what exactly Apple’s so-called iWatch actually does – you have the best smartwatch in the world at your disposal.
However, there’s a steep learning curve – and getting the most from your Apple Watch and its bevy of fitness, workout and time-saving features is key.
That’s what this complete guide to the Apple Watch sets out to achieve. We’ve covered the basic questions and can help graduate you to a power user – covering top tips, essential apps and stylish ways to make your smartwatch even better.
What does the Apple Watch do?It’s one of the common questions among people looking to buy for the first time – what can the Apple Watch actually do?
Well, a lot more than just offering you the chance to read text messages and answer calls on your wrist, rather than your phone, which is the main feature everybody knows.
Get messages and notifications on the wristFitness trackingWorkout trackingHeart rate monitoringECG monitoring (on Watch Series 4 only)GPS tracking of workouts (on GPS versions)Make calls and receive messages away from your phone (LTE versions with data plan)Turn-by-turn navigationSiri commands – alarms, timers, remindersDisplay tickets and boarding passesTell the timeWhich Apple Watch is best for you?Apple has simplified its line-up – although you can find all generations of its smartwatch available for a variety of price tags. If you’re choosing an Apple Watch, make sure you’re buying the right size and style.
Apple Watch Series 4Buy now: Amazon | $399The Apple Watch Series 4 is the latest version and comes in two new size options – 40mm and 44mm. There are LTE/GPS and GPS options and there’s special edition versions in the shape of the Apple Watch Nike+ and the Apple Watch Hermès.Apple Watch Series 3Buy now: Amazon | $279The Apple Watch Series 3 comes in two flavours using the older 28mm and 42mm casings, again with plain old GPS or a GPS/LTE version. If you’re looking for the smallest Apple Watch, this is the place to go. It’s swim-proof and now represents the most cost effective way to buy an Apple Watch (officially). The downsides are that it features the old shape, the screen’s not as good, and the fancy new ECG features are missing.
Apple Watch Series 2 [officially discontinued]Buy Now: Amazon | $229You can still also pick up bargain Apple Watch Series 2 smartwatches. However, this is no longer officially sold by Apple. There’s plenty on Amazon, however, and you still get GPS tracking for a low price.
Apple Watch Series 1 [officially discontinued]Buy now: Amazon | $199The Apple Watch Series 1 is the budget version, and comes without GPS or LTE – making it the choice for users that aren’t too bothered with accurate outdoor sports tracking. It’s no longer sold by Apple, like the Series 2, but can still be picked up from other retailers for something of a steal – and it’s still treated to the latest watchOS 5 software so you’re not being left behind in terms of functionality.
Apple Watch setup
When you take your Apple Watch out of the box, it’s the same as everyone else’s. What makes your smartwatch personal is the style and the apps, which mean your Apple Watch will be unique to your needs.
1. Add your Apple ID. 2. Create a passcode.3. Install your apps.4. Calibrate your activity settings.5. Manage your notifications.6. Back up your settings
Check out our full
guide on how to set up your Apple Watch.
The Apple Watch can be tough to crack, and the first 24 hours can be a little frustrating for the uninitiated. Navigating menus and finding the information you’re looking for can take some getting used to. Before you know it, though, you’ll be using the digital crown, adding and using complications, changing watch faces and using Apple Pay.
Check out our guide on
how to use the Apple Watch, including all the new features and interface tweaks from watchOS 5.
Reset the Apple WatchThe Apple Watch is super secure, so if it’s lost or stolen, it can’t be used without your permission. However, that means it needs to be properly reset and unpaired from your iPhone before it can be added to new ones.
To do that, you need to head to your Watch companion app on your iPhone and go through the unpairing process. Check out our guide to unpairing your Apple Watch, where we also cover how to reset your data and also set the device back on a brand new iPhone.
If there’s one major differentiator between the Apple Watch and the competition, it’s the wide breadth of apps. Just like the iPhone, Apple has left the killer features of the Apple Watch up to its army of developers.
Top Apple Watch app picksStravaSpotifyESPNCARROT FitStreaksAutoSleepJust Press RecordCitymapperIf you’re looking for more ways trick out your smartwatch, check out our guide to the best Apple Watch apps – also check out some of our other round-ups.
More Apple Watch apps guidesBest Apple Watch running appsBest Apple Watch sleep tracking appsBest Apple Watch golf appsBest Apple Watch cycling appsWorking out with Apple Watch One of the key features of the Apple Watch is as a fitness tracker and sports watch. The beauty of a smartwatch is adding this kind of functionality into one single device – and while it’s taken some time, the Apple Watch is a hugely powerful device.
Apple Watch: Fitness and activity explained It’s a very good fitness tracker and can also track workouts – and if you have a Series 4 with GPS, it can replace your standard fitness watch.
The activity app keeps tabs on movement, calories burned and standing time, and you’re encouraged to ‘close the rings’ in order to make your daily goals. There’s also a Breathe app, which encourages mindfulness, and taking time out of your day.All stats are viewable on the watch, are tracked within the Activity app on your iPhone, and populate the Apple Health app, too.
Apple Watch: Workout app The Workout app is a different beast, and enables you to track a bunch of different activities, from running and cycling to indoor workouts (which essentially just keep tabs on your heart rate, calories and time spent).
The Workout app now features:
Indoor WalkOutdoor WalkIndoor RunOutdoor RunEllipticalRowerPool SwimOpen Water SwimYogaHikingOutdoor workouts are tracked with GPS, while the rest feature duration, heart rate, calories burned and a lap feature. These are stored in the Activity app on your iPhone to view back after, with all of the maps and stats you’d expect.
The Workout app was treated to another overhaul in watchO5 – with automatic run detection added along with running specific additions such as Pace Alerts and cadence tracking – which unlike many sports watches is actually displayed live on the watch face.
You can read our full explainer on the Apple Watch fitness tracking and workout modes in our complete guide.
Heart rate tracking has been part of the Apple Watch since the original, but it’s only since watchOS 4 that it’s turned into a powerful tool. And the Apple Watch is able to make use of your heart rate in the following way:
Tracking resting heart rateTaking live heart rate readingsTracking heart rate during workouts and using it to offer more accurate calorie burn Alert user to irregular of elevated heart rateECG readings (Apple Watch Series 4 only)Heart rate activity is now tracked throughout the day, and you’re able to keep tabs on resting heart rate, which is a big indicator of improving fitness, and also tiredness and stress.
What’s more, the heart rate monitor can keep tabs on your ticker and alert you to an elevated bpm, which could be dangerous.
Check out our full Apple Watch heart rate monitor guide for more.
ECG monitoringArguably the biggest addition brought through the Apple Watch Series 4 was the ECG monitor. It will track the rhythm of your heart, looking for signs of Afib – a condition that’s a leading cause of strokes in the US.
Essentially, it’s capable of taking medical grade readings of your heartbeat, checking for irregular activity and even allows you to take a PDF to your doctor.
Check out our guide on how to use the Apple Watch Series 4 ECG feature.
How to add music to the Apple WatchWhether it’s controlling downloaded music more easily or streaming tunes directly from Apple Music and your wrist, the Apple Watch allows it. Don’t forget, there’s now also an official Spotify app for Apple Watch that you can dive into.
Unlock Mac with Apple WatchIf you’re wearing your Apple Watch, how about unlocking your Mac without entering your password? Using Auto Unlock, if you’ve entered your PIN on your watch (and you’re wearing it) your Mac will open without a password. Check out our guide to Auto Unlock to find out how.
How to improve battery lifeThe main criticism of the Apple Watch is that it won’t last a week, but you can easily get a couple of days, which could mean leaving the charger at home. Follow our guide to increasing the Apple Watch battery life.
How to use Apple Watch maps to navigateWhile Google Maps has been cut from the platform, Apple Maps is a good experience on Apple Watch – with turn-by-turn directions and local points of interest.
How to use Alexa on Apple WatchYes, you can use Alexa with the Apple Watch as a separate voice assistant. Follow ur guide to finding out how.
How to clear notificationsThe Apple Watch is all about notifications, but the whole point is not letting yourself get overwhelmed. Here’s how to trim them down.
How to set alarm or timerThe Apple Watch is, after all, a watch – so timekeeping is pretty high on the agenda. Setting timers and alarms is easy – especially if you use Siri.
How to updateKeeping your Apple Watch up to date means you’ll get the latest features – such as the ECG app which launched as an over-the-air update in December 2018.
Apple Music enables users to stream and listen to a library of nearly 30 million songs, and now it’s available directly on Apple Watch. If you’ve got an LTE-enabled Apple Watch Series 3 or Series 4, you’ll be able to stream music to your heart’s content.
You’ll just need a pair of Bluetooth headphones. If you’re not rocking the cellular Apple Watch, you can also sync over albums and playlists and control music on your iPhone. To get the full details on how to do that, check out our guide to adding music to your Apple Watch.
While Apple hasn’t opened up the Apple Watch to the ravages of the third-party watch face market, the number of options has soared with every new iteration. Check out our full guide to getting the best Apple Watch faces and improving them with slick complications.Mickey MouseTap on Mickey, he’ll tell you the time. Don’t be afraid to swap in the Toy Story gang if you prefer some Pixar.
Infograph (Apple Watch Series 4)For the data obsessed, the Infograph supports eight complications, including the new corner placements – using the redesigned Series 4 to show extra information.ModularWith six complication spots, the three icons at the bottom can be changed to common contacts, to enable you to make calls straight from the Watch. It will also take calendar appointments and display your next engagement in the middle. A firm favourite.
iGK Sport Band Silicon bands are perfect for those who like to get sweaty or swim with their Apple Watch – so it’s handy being able to pick these up for less than $10 a pop. There are a bunch of colours available, and buying a few means you can leave one in your gym bag so you’ll never have to suffer wearing a Milanese loop on the treadmill. Just make sure you clean and dry this one regularly to avoid any wrist rashes.Buy Now: Amazon | $8INTENY Sport BandA shameless copy of Apple’s own nylon offering, it’s a pretty good imitation at a fraction of the cost. The strap attaches via velcro, and has a two year warranty if you’re not happy with the quality. A highly impressive Amazon review score indicates that few people have cashed in on their warranty.
Buy Now: Amazon | $8.99AdMasterAnother gamut of well-priced silicon bands for workouts, this AdMaster bunch apes the design of the Nike+ Apple Watch bunch. They come with a bunch of men- and women-friendly designed and unisex options – two-toned and mightily attractive.
Buy Now: Amazon | $9.99Apple Watch MilaneseApple really brought the Milanese loop back into vogue with the original Apple Watch, but at $150 for the official strap, it’s pretty eye-watering. Luckily, there are plenty of re-sellers hawking Milanese mesh bands for pennies, showing how much you can save with a little shopping around. We’ve picked out a couple here.
Buy Now: Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | $9.99Forget Alexa – you can have Siri is on your wrist wherever you go. OK, sure, Siri needs a lot of work, but use our tips and you can take advantage of everything it has to offer.
The simplest way to wake Siri is to hold down the Digital Crown – once you do so for a couple of seconds, the listening indicator will pop up and you can release.
You can also now simply raise your wrist to your mouth – and the listening indicator should appear. Ensure it’s enabled in Settings > General > Siri > Raise To Speak.Apple Watch Siri example commands”Hey Siri, what time is it in San Francisco?”
“Hey Siri, start a 25-minute running workout for me””Hey Siri, turn down the volume by 20%”
“Hey Siri, what’s the weather in London?””Hey Siri, what’s my day looking like?”
Apple Watch FAQs
Answering your questions on the Apple Watch.
Is the Apple Watch waterproof?The Apple Watch Series 3 and Series 4 are waterproof up to 50 metres, meaning it can survive a dip in the pool and you don’t have to take it off in the shower. Just remember to eke the water out once you’re done by swiping down, tapping the water icon and twisting the Digital Crown.
Is the Apple Watch compatible with my smartphone?The minimum requirements for an iPhone user are that you have an iPhone 5 or later running at least iOS 8.2. Android phones are not compatible with any Apple Watch.
How can I add watch faces to the Apple Watch?You can add faces to the Apple Watch by heading to the Watch app in your iPhone and hitting the Face Gallery tab at the bottom of the screen. Here, you can pick from a range of faces, which you can then personalise with complications (such as your battery percentage, or a shortcut to Strava) through the Watch itself. You can also edit which watch faces appear through the My Faces section of the app. If you want to add something from your Photos, simply add it to the Favourites album. Once done, it will appear for syncing in the Face Gallery section of the app.
What’s a complication?In the watch world, a complication is an added feature on the watch face. Like a dial that displays the date. Apple, in an effort to honor watch history, has adopted the terminology for its smartwatches’ widgets, which can be placed on a watch face. They can be used to display the weather, give you news, show your battery percentage, launch apps and more.
How do I add complications to the Apple Watch?Firstly, you’ll need to make sure you’re selecting a watch face which already has complications for you to edit. Luckily, the majority of Apple’s watch faces offer complication support – however, the amount of complications they offer differ. From there, simply hold down the screen on your Watch, tap which green box you want to edit and use the Digital Crown to scroll through which options you want on your face.
Can the Apple Watch charge wirelessly?No. All Apple Watch models charge through Apple’s proprietary magnetic charging dock system. This is technically wireless charging, but Apple Watch doesn’t officially conform to the Qi Wireless Charging standard, as the latest iPhones do, for example.Will the Apple Watch connect to wireless headphones?Yes. Simply head into the settings section of the Watch, before selecting Bluetooth and the device which you are looking to pair. We’ve found some issues with the Watch pairing to headphones when a set is already known to our iPhone, but this has varied depending on which headphones we’ve been using.
Will Apple Watch track my sleep?No. Likely due to the Watch’s limited battery life, Apple is yet to prioritise sleep tracking natively. However, there are a host of third-party Apple Watch sleep tracking apps available on the App Store.
Can I use Apple Pay on the Apple Watch?No matter which Apple Watch model you have, double-tapping the side button will bring up your card and a tap of the reader will let you use Apple Pay on the device. Through a recent software update, Watch users can now also send money to their friends using Apple Pay Cash.
For more, including how to set up Apple Pay, read our guide on how to pay using an Apple Watch.
How does Apple Watch’s fall detection work?The Series 4 is outfitted with fall detection. If it detects a hard fall, it’ll buzz your wrist and sound an alarm. It’ll list quick access to Emergency SOS via a swipe gesture, which will contact emergency services. It’ll also offer a button that says “I’m OK” if you don’t need help.
If your Apple Watch detects a fall and then detects that you’ve been immobile for a minute, it begins a 15-second countdown while tapping you on the wrist and sounding an alarm. The alarm will get louder and louder to try to alert someone else to your needs. It’ll also automatically contact emergency services, providing your location.
Where is the Apple Watch battery indicator?Similar to how you can swipe up and down through iOS, watchOS also allows you to do this to access certain settings of the Apple Watch. If you swipe up, you’ll notice a percentage icon on the left side, below the Wi-Fi tab and next to the Ping iPhone tab.If you don’t fancy swiping every time you want to check your battery, you can install the battery widget on customisable watch faces.
The Apple Watch still doesn’t have its own official sleep tracking app, but there are plenty of third-party options that deliver advanced features and metrics to explore.
It’s increasingly likely that 2019 is the year we finally see built-in sleep monitoring come to the smartwatch, through the Apple Watch Series 5, but whether it’ll have the ample battery life, accuracy and tech to pull off tracking is yet to be confirmed.
Read next: Best Apple Watch apps to downloadUntil it is, you’ll have to look elsewhere, and below we have eight of the best apps to transform your Apple Watch into a top sleep tracker.
1. AutoSleepThis is our favorite of the bunch, as it stands. As the name suggests, AutoSleep’s key feature is that it works automatically, unlike many of the other sleep tracker apps that require you to tell them when you’re getting into bed. AutoSleep takes the thinking out of it, but it’s also good when it comes to accuracy. When put up against dedicated sleep tracker, it produced close results, but you can tweak the sensitivity for better accuracy.
£2.99, Download AutoSleep2. Sleep++Sleep++ is one of the most popular Watch sleep apps going, with one of its biggest selling points being its simplicity. The app is incredibly bare-boned, showing you a start button, stop button, and a little blue chart to display your sleep patterns. And that’s it. Like AutoSleep, it can also write your sleep data to Apple Health and will automatically log sleep when activated on the companion iPhone app.
Free, Download Sleep++3. PillowThe first thing that struck us about Pillow was how vibrant it looked, but it’s not a bad little sleep tracker, either. It uses a combination of movement, sounds and heart rate to follow your patterns, and presents the data in gorgeous, easy-to-read charts.
Read this: How Apple could beat Fitbit to the ultimate sleep tracking wearableLike the two options up top, you can now also automatically track your sleep letting you see your sleep reports and analysis when you wake up including sleep breakdown and stats like time spent in bed. There is a premium subscription option that also gives you access to features like sleep aid programs and the ability to view weekly, monthly and annual trends.
Free (in-app purchase for premium), Download Pillow4. Beddit Sleep MonitorNow owned by Apple, Beddit is one of the best sleep tracking companies out there. Its Apple Watch app, however, doesn’t actually do the tracking, but relies on the sleep monitor sensor you’ll need to buy. What the Watch app does do, however, is track and recommend daytime naps. Yes, this is a daytime sleep tracker. It can take a look at your sleep score, recommend a quick 30-minute power nap after lunch and off you snooze. It’ll wake you up with a silent alarm and update your sleep score.
Also read: 43 Apple Watch tips and tricksJust be aware that Beddit’s cloud storage has now ended, which obviously makes its older devices much less helpful. The silver lining within that, however, is that Apple/Beddit has recently launched the Sleep Monitor 3.5 – perhaps signalling that 2019 will be the year the company begins to prioritise its sleep tracking efforts.
Free, Download Beddit5. HeartWatchHeartWatch is a neat app that really digs into your heart rate data, and provides alerts if it notices any unusual, potentially concerning, activity. It also tracks your sleep, overlaying the HR data on top, so you can see your waking and sleeping heartbeat, and how they compare to your regular beats. The iPhone app could do with being a little less cluttered, but if you’re particularly interested in the relationship between your heart rate and sleep, this is a great little app. We’ve found accuracy on it to be pretty good, too.
£2.99, Download HeartWatch6. Sleep WatchAnother on-watch app for tracking bedtime slumber, Sleep Watch automatically keeps tabs on the time, heart rate and stages of your sleep. It looks for “dips” in your heart rate that the makers suggest correlate with more restful sleep, and will give you a score based on the quality of your kip. You’ll also get daily briefings and sleep trends over time, making it a powerful app for Apple Watch users.
Free, Download Sleep Watch7. Sleep Pulse 3Sleep Pulse 3 is a fully-featured sleep app for your Apple Watch that does most of the work itself. It’ll track your heart rate and motion, and there’s a sleep view you can take a look at when you randomly wake up in the middle of the night – this’ll show you your resting heart rate, as well as how long you’ve been sleeping. There are also ways to track naps and record sleep talk. Best of all, all the sleep analysis is done right there on the Watch, not on your phone.
It’s also been updated to better support the Apple Watch Series 4 too, so it’s better optimised for those bigger screens and it will now work with Apple’s new Infograph and Infograph Modular watches faces letting you see recent sleep data from your watch face.
£3.99, Download Sleep Pulse 38. Sleep Tracker by SleepmaticIf Sleep Tracker looks familiar, it’s because it does. It looks almost exactly like Fitbit’s sleep interface, and the app – by Sleepmatic – is unashamed about it all. It sells itself as a Fitbit sleep tracking for Apple Watch, though there are some differences. You’re not going to get REM sleep here, but you will get automatic sleep tracking for both overnight sleep and daytime naps. Plus, you can see how much sleep you got last night in a handy complication.
£1.99, Download Sleep TrackerThe most stylish Apple Watch bands
If you’re an iPhone owner and you want a new smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 4 isn’t your only choice. Yes, it’s a fantastic wearable and our current smartwatch fave, but we know it’s not to everyone’s taste and is hardly the most affordable either.
Luckily, there’s a whole host of iPhone-compatible smartwatches on the market with features that Apple’s device has yet to include.
Today’s best smartwatch deals
Plus, of course, Wear OS is compatible with iOS and so are Samsung’s Galaxy and Gear smartwatches. So iPhone users have plenty of other options to choose from.
Read this: Best smartwatches for women to buySo, if you find the new Apple Watch a little too pricey or you just don’t like the look of it, we’ve rounded up a selection of the best Apple Watch alternatives to pick from, any of which will sync with your iPhone.
Before we get to that though, here’s a rundown of our current top picks…
Great Apple Watch alternativesThere’s a big emphasis on health and fitness with Samsung’s latest flagship smartwatch and it also happens to be a gorgeous piece of high-end tech, with a fantastic display, a superb bezel-control system and an ever-growing supply of great Tizen apps.
The Skagen Falster 2 is a Wear OS smartwatch that combines a slick design with must-have functionality, and is every bit as stylish as its predecessor. It also packs in some long-awaited tech upgrades to more than match its big rivals.
The Fitbit Versa proves that the activity tracking specialist knows how to make a great looking smartwatch – despite the eyesore that was the Ionic. As you’d expect, the fitness features are top-notch as well.
Read on for a much more in-depth guide to the best smartwatches for iOS users, if you don’t fancy an Apple Watch…
Fitbit VersaBuy Now: Amazon / fitbit.com | £199.99If Samsung or Wear OS don’t do it for you, there’s always Fitbit’s smartwatch to consider. And, if we’re honest, this is easily the watch that people mistake most often for the Apple Watch when we have it on our wrists.
Like the Watch Series 4, it’s all about fitness. So it’s got a waterproof design, along with swim tracking and an onboard heart rate monitor to measure workout intensity. What it doesn’t have, however, is built-in GPS – for that you’ll want to pay a bit more and get the Fitbit Ionic.
You can also expect the usual Fitbit fitness tracking features, including arguably the best sleep monitoring features of any wrist-worn wearable.
As far as core smartwatch features are concerned, it supports notifications for messages and from third-party apps (with replies available if you’re connected to an Android phone), and has an onboard music player with support for Deezer – and if you live in the US, Pandora, too (note that these can only be played offline). You can download apps from Fitbit’s growing app store, and there’s also contactless payment support via Fitbit Pay (another note: if you’re in the US, you’ll need to get the Special Edition to have Pay).
Unlike Apple’s smartwatch, it does work with Android, iOS and Windows smartphones and with up to five days’ battery life you won’t need to charge it every night. It’s a strong alternative, and one that’s going to improve as Fitbit builds on the strong array of sensors it’s loaded inside – with sleep apnea detection promised to be on the way.
Fitbit does also now have the Versa Lite Edition, which looks identical to the Versa, but is cheaper. You’ll have to live without features like built-in music player support and swim tracking though.
Read our Fitbit Versa review and Fitbit Versa Lite Edition review.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Buy Now: Amazon (42mm) Amazon (46mm)/samsung.com | From £268The Samsung Galaxy Watch is the successor to the Gear S3. And now it comes in both 42mm and 46mm models.
The swim-friendly smartwatch builds on the fitness and health features introduced on the S3 and the Sport, adding more workout modes, enhanced heart rate monitoring skills and better integrated sleep tracking.
Tizen OS 4.0 runs the show and in our opinion is a more well-rounded platform than Google’s Wear OS right now. Of course it’s still packing that great rotating bezel for navigating when you don’t want to get your fingers all over that super sharp touchscreen display.
The Watch will play nice with iPhones of course and whether you go for the 42mm or 46mm size, they’ll offer more battery life than Apple’s smartwatch.
If you’re after something smaller (and cheaper) with most of the same features, it’s well worth checking out the Galaxy Watch Active too. The 40mm watch offers less battery life, but does have GPS, swim tracking and all of the same fitness tracking features.
For a full verdict, take a read of our Samsung Galaxy Watch review.
Skagen Falster 2Buy Now: Amazon / skagen.com | From £230Skagen is arguably the best-looking smartwatch from the Fossil Group’s clan of Wear OS watches. It features a minimalist, classic look that will appeal to those who likes the Apple Watch’s more streamlined appearance.
It’s got a 40mm case and it’s kept things slim despite the addition of some big features. It also comes with 20mm interchangeable straps so you can swap in something more fancy for a night out and something more in tune for your workouts.
There’s built-in GPS, NFC for Google Pay contactless payments, a heart rate monitor and a waterproof design with the addition of swim tracking. It’s perhaps not best suited to working out with based on our accuracy testing. But if you care about general fitness tracking, it’s a decent fit.
Battery life is the Wear OS norm, so you can expect around a day with it and maybe a day and a half depending on how you’re using those more power-sapping features. If you want a good looking smartwatch with some nice extras, then this one fits the bill.
Check out our full Skagen Falster 2 review.
Garmin Vivoactive 3 MusicBuy Now: Amazon / garmin.com | £160The Apple Watch offers a solid sports tracking experience, but the Vivoactive 3 Music is particularly designed for those who dabble in a lot of sports. It’ll cover running, cycling, golf and more via Garmin’s Connect IQ store.
It will even cover gym workouts with the addition of rep counting. Garmin Pay has been added into the mix letting you make payments from the wrist, and improved notification support now lets you respond to your messages. It offers a built-in music player and the ability to download offline playlists from Spotify and Deezer too.
The battery life is top notch and the new circular design is a massive step up from its predecessor, the Vivoactive HR.
Get our definitive take with our Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music review.
Michael Kors Access RunwayBuy Now: Amazon / michaelkors.com | From £199If you want a great looking Wear OS smartwatch, the Fossil Group serves up some of the best options right now. The Michael Kors Access collection is one of its sub brands that stands out for the right reasons.
The Access Runway is aimed toward a fashion-loving female audience, but we won’t hesitate to also classify it as unisex for those who want a smaller smartwatch on their wrist.
It’s a little more subdued than previous Michael Kors smartwatches, but it also has an undeniable high-end look that works as a statement wearable. While previous Fossil smartwatches lacked high-end smart features in favour of style, that isn’t the case with the Access Runway.
NFC for Google Pay, GPS, a heart rate sensor and water resistance are all present, which means you can take your fitness more seriously with this stylish watch too.
Check out our full Michael Kors Access Runway review.
Ticwatch E2Buy Now: Amazon / mobvoi.com | £145.99With the demise of Pebble, Mobvoi and its Ticwatch range is now our plucky smartwatch startup of choice. And the Ticwatch E2 builds on the Ticwatch E most notably by adding a waterproof design.
It runs Wear OS, is packed with features including GPS and a heart rate monitor, and has now added swim monitoring to its sports tracking prowess. Crucially, it comes at the tantalising price of just £145.99, so it’s a more affordable Apple Watch alternative. It has a 1.4-inch OLED display with a solid 400 x 400 resolution, which matches up well to the Apple Watch’s screen.
The design is fun and quirky, and it’s a nice relief from the monotony of the same old brands – but with the certainty and stability of Wear OS under the hood.
Check out our review of the Ticwatch E2.
Garmin Vivomove HRBuy Now: Amazon / garmin.com | Starting at £149.99Like the Steel HR below, the Vivomove HR is a sporty hybrid that packs in a lot of features. Unlike the Vivomove, Garmin’s new hybrid is available in designs for men and women and is now available in a bunch of new luxury looks too.
Its killer feature is the sleek discreet display that appears on the watch face when you give it a tap. On that screen you can see a whole raft of information including fitness tracking data, resting heart rate, smartphone notifications and it will even let you check in on your stress levels.
If you care about battery life it’s a fine performer too, offering two weeks in watch mode and around five days when you’re tapping into all of those smartwatch features on a regular basis.
Have a read of ourfull Garmin Vivomove HR review.Withings Steel HR SportBuy Now: Amazon / withings.com | £174Withings is back, and its new Steel HR Sport gives the Apple Watch a run for its money in terms of wellness tech; a serious fitness tracker disguised as an analogue watch. The optical heart rate sensor is one of the best you can get on the wrist.
It offers a decent analysis of your daily heart rate and tracks resting heart rate over time – arguably doing better than the Apple Watch in this department. New for the Sport is VO2 Max, which will give you a look at how much oxygen you’re utilising during workouts.
While it’s an analogue watch, it’s not without a digital screen. There’s a small OLED panel that displays notifications and some relevant health stats. And while the older watch didn’t support GPS, the Sport does – though it’s the connected kind, which requires piggybacking off your phone’s GPS.
It offers automatic detection of exercise and will monitor your heart rate during a session and count that into your daily goal. It’s also an excellent sleep tracker, which fills a hole left wide open by the Apple Watch, and it offers 25 days of tracking on a single charge.
It’s a different proposition, but those mainly interested in the Apple Watch as a fitness tracker would do well to consider the Steel HR.
Check out our Withings Steel HR Sport review.
Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45Buy Now: tagheuerconnected.com | £1,400Yes, this is the most expensive Wear OS watch out there by some distance, but if you want a luxurious smartwatch around your wrist, it doesn’t get much better than this.Tag’s second Connected looks like a classic Tag for starters, with first-class build quality and a host of impressively detailed custom watch faces. Wear OS is there keeping things running, but it definitely takes more of a backseat than on Wear alternatives from LG, Motorola and company. With NFC and GPS onboard, you’re well looked after no matter what you need. Tag is definitely onto a winner here – check out our full Modular 45 review for more details. A bit too big? You can shave off 4mm with the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 41 instead. And if you’re into your golf, there’s now a Tag Heuer Connected 45 Golf Edition available too.
If you don’t like the look of Tag’s watches, but you do want something more lavish, we’d also recommend checking out the Montblanc Summit 2 and the Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon 2019 edition.
Kate Spade New York Scallop 2Buy Now: Amazon / katespade.com | From £279The best sign yet that smartwatches for women are improving. We haven’t fully put the new Kate Spade New York Scallop 2 to the test, but as it’s essentially building on its predecessor with big new features, so we think it’s the model you should be going for.
The 42mm watch comes in a rose gold or a silver-and-gold case and is as gorgeous as it gets. You can expect a super sharp 1.19-inch AMOLED display, a design that’s now waterproof up to 30 metres and overall just much prettier than the Apple Watch.
With the second generation, you’re getting all the standard features Wear OS has to offer, which includes notifications, app support, accessing Google Assistant and music player features. You now also get built-in GPS for outdoor workout tracking, a heart rate monitor and Google Pay for contactless payments. There’s also an array of Kate Spade-designed watch faces to give your watch some added personality.
And for the price, the Scallop stays accessible to the everyday smartwatch user – it’s not confined to the luxury price bracket like the aforementioned Tag Heuer watches – and is competitive with the Apple Watch.
Check out our hands-on time with the Kate Spade Spade Scallop Smartwatch 2 and full review of the Kate Spade Scallop Smartwatch to find out what you should expect.
Until recently, gyms were disconnected places. Gym equipment rarely – if ever – worked well with wearables like fitness trackers and smartwatches beyond the chest strap, and the work we put in on the gym floor didn’t sync with outdoor fitness pursuits.
Then came Apple GymKit with its tap-and-sweat, two-way flow of data between the Apple Watch and cardio machines, promising to make the gym experience more seamless and our fitness tracking a little more holistic.
Essential reading: watchOS 6 features revealedAt launch, the concept seemed to work well and was genuinely exciting. However, because rolling it out required both gym operators and manufacturers to buy into the idea – and serve up the enabled equipment – there was always a question mark over how soon it would hit your local gym.
Now, two years on from the fanfare unveiling in 2017, Apple has announced three new partnerships with gym equipment makers: Woodway, True Fitness and Octane Fitness. That means virtually every single big player who makes equipment for gyms should be GymKit-enabled by Autumn 2019.
Has GymKit invaded gyms and our fitness lives in the way Apple hoped it would or is still trying to find its place? Here’s what we found out.
Why GymKit promised to change the indoor fitness game
Back in October 2017, when the first Apple GymKit gym launched in Australia, it seemed strange that leaders in the performance and fitness tech world, the likes of Garmin, Polar and Fitbit, weren’t the first to crack this nut.Read this: Apple Watch tips and tricksFast forward two years and the sales numbers explain a lot. According to one report from Counterpoint Technology, while the smartwatch market grew 48% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019, the Apple Watch accounted for one-in-three of those smartwatch sales. Figures from Strategy Analytics also suggest that Apple shipped 22.5 million Apple Watch units during 2018, making it the most popular smartwatch globally.We’ve made the Watch the centrepiece of our tech roadmap
So perhaps now it’s less surprising that the first big relationship between equipment manufacturers, gym operators and a tech company involved Apple. It’s also no surprise that for the fitness sector, having Apple take a lead represented a welcome gear change.
“It’s been a quantum leap,” says Greg Oliver group chief executive and managing director at the Fitness and Lifestyle Group, which owns 500 gyms across the Asia-Pacific region. For Oliver, Apple’s move into the gym space marked a “coming of age” for the industry, and he believes Apple GymKit is something gym goers will come to expect as part of any club’s offering.“We’ve made the Watch the centrepiece of our tech roadmap to make the experience so much more seamless,” says Oliver. “So that it’s used for frictionless and seamless access, for lockers, for cardio equipment and as a key component of the whole experience.
“It’s recognition by one of the world’s largest companies that keeping people healthy is a very important opportunity,” he added. “And it’s a significant step change in terms of how people are assessing, managing and continuing to monitor their fitness journeys within our brands.”
Where GymKit lives in 2019All of which sounds great, but the big question is, where can you currently make use of GymKit right now? Let’s start with the latest stats. Apple told us exclusively that there are now 50,000 pieces of GymKit enabled equipment in 1,500 locations across 100 countries worldwide.
Essential reading: The best Apple Watch apps to downloadThough the numbers are growing, penetration is still relatively low. On average these figures represent just 15 locations and 500 machines per country, though clearly some regions boast a higher density of enabled venues. Big brands and well-known gym chains are on board: Virgin Active (who were first to launch in the UK in London), Anytime Fitness, Fitness First, Lifetime Fitness, Planet Fitness, The Y and Equinox, all range GymKit-enabled cardio equipment in some locations.
There are more equipment manufacturers too with Stairmaster and StarTrac joining a list that already included the big hitters Technogym, Life Fitness and Matrix at launch. But that rollout is taking time.
Apple told us exclusively that there are now 50,000 pieces of GymKit enabled equipment in 1,500 locations across 100 countries worldwide
You could draw parallels between this space and CarPlay. While it was announced back in 2016, it’s taken time to become standard and it was only recently announced at WWDC that about 90% of cars in the US and 75% globally, now support CarPlay.
Apple says a similar story is unfolding with GymKit where it’s taken time for GymKit to spread but its reach is now growing.
“Our GymKit equipment partners manufacture almost 90% of all the cardio equipment in health clubs around the world,” says Jay Blahnik, senior director of fitness for health technologies, speaking to Wareable just after Apple’s latest partnership announcement at WWDC. “And GymKit is becoming an increasingly standard part of their equipment offering.”
Kitting out the gymsPhoto credit: by Danielle Cerullo on UnsplashWhile manufacturers are enabling more premium machines, the onus is still very much on the gym operators to kit out their clubs when it’s time to refresh.
According to Jason Worthy, president of equipment makers Life Fitness, one of Apple’s key partners on GymKit, it’s taken some time for them to grasp the opportunity, but he also points out that this is changing.“Even two or three years ago maybe only 1-in-10 operators was really heavily dialled into the digital disruption that was coming,” says Worthy, pointing to the impact of wearables and how important data was going to become.Fast forward to today and Worthy says it’s now very rare to have a conversation with any operator that isn’t thinking about technology. “Some operators just didn’t see it as a priority but now they absolutely do,” he says.“We’re seeing a lot of focus on tech and how integrating with wearables in general – and specifically more Apple products – is becoming a conversation starter.”
It’s not just the premium clubs showing an interest either; Worthy is seeing more budget operators get on board. “They now realise that technology well-executed can be a significant differentiator for them. And they know that consumer demand is heightening,” he says.For Greg Oliver, whose company didn’t need a second invitation from Apple to get on board from the get-go, it’s always been a no-brainer.“We want to invest in all of the right technologies to ensure we’re continuing to try and improve the member experience and enabling people to live better lives,” he says. “It’s just part of our standard order that any of our new sites or club refits now come with GymKit cardio equipment.”Oliver says his brands are seeing a more engaged membership as a result too.But there’s clearly still much more work for equipment manufacturers and operators to do before GymKit becomes anywhere near ubiquitous. And for Worthy that means companies like Life Fitness helping operators understand the value of the technology and how easy it is to use and for operators to lead thereafter.“Operators need to grab that baton and educate consumers,” says Worthy. “To say ‘use your Apple Watch, this is a great way to capture data and use that data within Apple Health to make smarter decisions and understand the impact of the exercise you’re doing.’ And maybe even go a step further and bundle up Watches with memberships.”A free Apple Watch would certainly be a decent enticement for many potential gym members and even more so if they can see the device having demonstrable uses once they make it to the club.
Having GymKit machines is one thing but helping members to find the best way to use them is another. So what have gyms been doing to put GymKit into practice?
How GymKit is being usedAt Fitness and Lifestyle Group gyms that include Barry’s Bootcamp and Fitness First, Apple GymKit is part of the induction and on-boarding process for new members at those venues with the equipment. All of the trainers also wear Apple Watches to help improve the trainer-client relationship.Read this: Best gyms and studios using wearables to get you fit“Trainers are engaging with some of the members who’ve chosen to share their workout data,” says Oliver.
“You can choose the people that you want to share with, compete with or banter with and that’s added another dimension to how we can continue to retain people, motivate people and keep them exercising.“We’re trying to take people on a journey and make them a more active and healthy human being. If we’re good at making it a more frictionless experience, we will hopefully get more people staying and doing that for longer.”That, Oliver says, improves the customer lifetime value from a business perspective.“We’re not only looking at this as the members who are accessing our physical facilities, but we’re also looking for the Watch to be an integral part of how we assist people outside of our four walls as well.“We’ve also created digital fitness programmes with the likes of Chris Hemsworth that Apple helped us develop and these sit on top of the watch as well.”
Future GymKit features: Beyond cardio trackingPhoto credit: by John Arano on UnsplashOne area where both manufacturer and gym operators strongly agree is that GymKit technology has a big role to play in the future of the gym experience and the current applications are just the beginning. Here’s what they tip to come next.Oliver would like to see a gradual expansion of GymKit-enabled inventory, particularly into the area of strength and functional training.Working out: Best heart rate monitors to buy“For me it’s about how they continue to develop technology that brings more than just the cardio equipment into play,” he says. “Technologies that we can deploy across some of the functional equipment to the extent that it would talk to some of the weight bearing equipment would be what I’d like to see over time.”Successfully tracking resistance, range of movement, intensity level and heart rate in the weights section has long been a Holy Grail. It would allow gym goers to ditch the notebooks and leave smartphones in the locker, and still see all of the information from previous workouts. No wearable brand has really mastered this yet and Worthy agrees it’s an important next step for GymKit.“Notwithstanding the fact that strength plays an important role in all training – whether you’re an ultra runner, a body builder or something in between – having technology that encompasses strength, functional and free-weights is important,” says Worthy.But he admits that what really gets him excited is the potential for technology to drive a more personalised experience.
It’s time to get personalPhoto credit: by Victor Freitas on Unsplash“We’ve seen Apple really lean in and I think there’s some very exciting things coming down the line,” says Worthy who believes the Apple Watch could act as the mobile key to a 360-degree portable digital experience gym goers can take with them anywhere.“A lot of people go into the gym today and they do the same programme they always do. It doesn’t matter if it was six hours or six days since they were last in the gym, they tend to do the same workout,” says Worthy.“I think it can get more granular,” he adds. “Let’s say I get on the treadmill this morning wearing a heart rate strap, what if the treadmill was able to say ‘Hey, you worked out at 8pm last night and your heart rate has not yet fully reset to base resting heart rate and so we recommend a different type of training for today. Don’t just go and run hard for 5km as it’s not going to give you the best training outcome.’ A bit like if you had a world class coach or trainer, that’s the value that you’d get.” Worthy thinks Apple is well positioned to be the vehicle to help drive all of this knowledge into the system to create this highly personalised experience.“What did people do outside, how much sleep did they get, how many steps have they been taking, what’s their heart rate response like today versus the last time they tried to attempt a PB. All of those variables coming in to drive a really rich personalised experience,” he says.
Creating the club of the futureWhat’s crystal clear from speaking to Apple, the manufacturers and the gym operators is that technology like Apple GymKit has an increasing role to play in the gym experience and not just connecting more equipment or simply giving you ring-shaped credit for your workout. The industry as a whole is looking at how wearables can make the time we spend in the gym easier, from signing in to paying for that post-workout smoothie.“We’re also really encouraged by the fact the manufacturers and the club chains have become much more engaged about the ‘club of the future,’” says Blahnik.“They’re really thinking not just about what happens on the equipment but how the whole club itself can be more connected to what the users expect to be connected to, whether it’s their music, entertainment or their metrics. Everything from walking into their club and being able to pay with Apple Pay to being able to check in at the front desk with just their Apple Watch or their iPhone,” he says.“We’re really excited about the opportunity in this space, and what we can bring to life with our partners. We think the future and what can happen here is very exciting.”And if we could choose what they fix first? Please let it be smart lockers that human beings can actually understand. Or maybe your Watch giving you a tiny electric shock when you don’t put your weights back.
Alexa on the Apple Watch, you say? Well, while the smartwatch doesn’t have an official app for Alexa, it’s still compatible through a new third-party app.
If you download the Apple Watch app, you can ditch Siri and instead pop your queries over to Amazon’s Alexa. And while it’s fairly straightforward to achieve, there are a couple of steps you’ll need to take in order to gain compatibility.
Essential reading: Apple Watch tips for beginnersRead on below, as we explain how to get Alexa on the Apple Watch, what you’ll be able to control and whether the real Alexa will soon be standing up.
1. Install Alexa on the Apple WatchThere’s no first-party way to connect Alexa to your Apple Watch, but downloading Voice in a Can gives you a neat workaround. It costs £1.99 from the App Store and gives you full compatibility with iPhone and iPad, as well as the Apple Watch.
Since it’s a standalone app, it works whether your smartwatch is connected to Wi-Fi or through LTE. And once the app is all installed on your wrist, you just need to simply sync your Amazon Alexa account with the watch and tap the icon inside the app to access the smart assistant.
With the latest iteration of the app, you can even harness the device’s Siri Raise feature to instead prompt Alexa, as well as tap into a nifty little Siri Shortcut workaround (which you can learn how to do here, since it’s a little tricky to set up).
2. Use Alexa on the Apple WatchYou can ask Alexa your queries regarding the weather, directions and whatever else using the app, but that’s not all.
The good news here is that there’s not a huge amount of drop-off from what you would be able to control through a smartwatch that officially works with Alexa and your Apple Watch. However, there are a few things to be aware of. You won’t be able to ask for announcements, make calls or listen to music, for example.
But the workaround does enable you to control your Alexa-enabled smart home tech, meaning you can turn your lights on/off, adjust your smart thermostat or even lock your front door, as shown above by developer Damian Mehers.
Since this can save you pulling out your phone, it’s a no brainer download for both Watch and smart home enthusiasts looking to simplify how they talk to Alexa.
Will the real Alexa be coming soon?That would be nice, wouldn’t it? But the truth is, we simply don’t know. It seems unlikely, considering Apple and Amazon’s smart assistants are now locked in an all-out brawl with each other and rivals, but rare examples have shown the former to open up the garden fence. With the current workaround not providing full support, and being a little slow to actually use, here’s hoping the two companies work out a solution sooner rather than later. At least for now, though, the above method is the best way to get Alexa on the Apple Watch.
More Apple Watch explainersToday’s best smartwatch deals
So you’ve got a fancy new Apple Watch – congratulations. But now prepare to supercharge your experience with our updated list of essential Apple Watch tips.
The good news is that watchOS 5, Apple’s latest smartwatch operating system, is one of the more comprehensive on the market. This makes for a steep learning curve, but there’s a great amount of opportunity for customisation. And we’ve got watchOS 6 on the way later in the year to bring us more Apple Watch goodies.
Be ‘appy: The best Apple Watch apps to downloadTo give you a fast start, we’ve rounded up 46 essential hacks to help make the current Apple Watch even more useful, including improvements introduced through the most recent updates. From adding music to trimming unwanted notifications and even taking screenshots, your experience will be richer for reading this list.Best Apple Watch dealsApple Watch Series 4 40mm GPS+Cellular – Save $50
Organise, and use, the app dockApple ditched glances way back in watchOS 3, and now you view all currently open apps by touching that side button. You should totally use this dock, stacking it with your most used apps. Why? Because these are the apps your Watch will prioritise when pulling in information and background refreshes.
You can customise the dock in your companion Watch app. It can be set to pull in the most recent apps you used, which works a little bit like multitasking on the iPhone. Or, you could turn it into a proper dock with your favourite apps. If you choose the latter, you can easily customise which apps appear.
If you’d like to customise the dock on the Watch itself, you can do so by clicking the side button, then 3D touching an app and tapping “Keep in Dock.”
Apple still doesn’t offer its own built-in sleep tracking mode but it is apparently in the works. For now though, that means it can’t quite match Fitbit, Garmin and others for offering the complete fitness tracking experience straight out of the box, but there are a bunch of apps that can bring the feature to the Watch. We’ve picked out the best sleep tracker apps for the Apple Watch so you don’t have to go hunting for them on the App Store.
In order to make sure you’re getting the most out of your Apple Watch, you’re going to want to update it regularly. This is fairly straightforward to achieve, and you should get a pop-up on your iOS device each time there’s an update ready. To check on iOS, head to the My Watch tab in the Watch app, tap through to General and then go to Software update. Follow the instructions and and, voila, you should be on your way. Just make sure to keep the Apple Watch on charge throughout.
Also, considering there’s different ways to force one, and you may need some troubleshooting tips, check out our full guide on how to update Apple Watch.
The most stylish Apple Watch bandsApple Music streaming now comes directly to your Apple Watch thanks to cellular support, but you can still add MP3s and pair it with some AirPods for music. You’ll need to head over to the companion Watch app, then over to the Music section.
Here, you’ll see a few options. You can have a couple of ever-updating playlists automatically sync music to your Watch when it’s charging. You can also manually add in songs by artist, album and playlist just below that. Thankfully, Apple has made this process much, much easier than before. Previously, you had to create a playlist first before syncing over any music.
Of course, you should get a good pair of Bluetooth headphones to listen to the music. In fact, when you start playing a song on your Watch and there are no Bluetooth headphone connected it’ll throw up a little pop-up box asking you to sync some headphones.
There’s also the Apple Watch Spotify app, too, in case you’re wondering what to do if you’re not an Apple Music subscriber. You’ll be able to add and play music to your Spotify library from within the app.
If you’re fully kitted out with all the Apple gear, there’s also a way that you can use your Apple Watch to skip typing in a password on your Mac to get access, so long as you have a mid-2013 or a newer Mac that’s running macOS Sierra 10.12 or later. If you want to pair the two together, the first thing you need to is make sure they are both signed into the same iCloud account.
Your next step is to head to your Mac and choose System Preferences, then Security & Privacy and click the General tab. Here, you’ll be able to set the Apple Watch to unlock your Mac. Make sure two-factor authentication is enabled as well on your Mac (head to System Preferences > iCloud > Account Details > Security).
Check out our full guide on unlocking the Mac with Apple Watch.
If you’re overburdened by notifications, you can wipe your recent history by swiping down from the top of your screen to access a chronological list. Once displayed, you can banish them all by long-pressing the screen then tapping Clear All. If you’re looking to manage your notifications and need more detailed help, though, check out our full guide on how to clear all notifications, which also includes tips on deleting texts and turning them off altogether.
Setting an alarm on the Apple Watch isn’t actually as straightforward as it may seem – sure, going into the Alarms app on the watch itself and twiddling around with the Digital Crown is easy enough, but there’s plenty to delve into. For details on how to set an alarm on the Apple Watch and keep it silent, or even set up Nightstand Mode, read our full guide. Timers, on the other hand, are actually very straightforward. No matter what event you’re clocking, simply heading into the Timers app and toggling how much time you want to track is about all there is to it.
Apple made several improvements to Siri in watchOS 5, and most of them are in the Siri watch face. Through machine learning, Siri will now be able to serve up more contextual information, such as showing heart rate after a workout, or sports scores if your favourite team is playing.
However, waking Siri and chatting with the assistant has also improved. No longer do you activate things through “Hey Siri” – you simply need to enable the new wrist-raise option which automatically kickstarts the assistant. If that’s too Dick Tracy for you, pushing and holding the crown will also make Siri pipe up.
Read our full guide on things to ask Siri on your Apple Watch.
Take a screenshotAll Apple Watch devices can take screenshots when you push the Digital Crown and the action button below it at the same time. Images are then saved to the camera roll on your iPhone. This is not set as default, though. To enable screenshots, head to the Watch companion app and then go to General. There, you’ll be able to toggle Enable Screenshots on or off.
One of the big new features on the Series 4 is the ability to take an electrocardiogram (ECG). Or, well, it’s available in the US. It’ll take some time to roll out internationally. It’s an important feature that can help detect if you’ve got atrial fibrillation, so it’s worth checking out at least once. It can even be helpful to take before you head for a yearly checkup.
Discreetly view the timeIf you want to check in on the time without raising your wrist, you can slowly twist the digital crown upwards and it’ll brighten up the screen gradually to let you peek in, rather than fully illuminating the watch screen.
It happens. Maybe you get a new iPhone or you decide to give your old Apple Watch to someone else because you’ve upgraded. You’ll need to go through this process, which thankfully is pretty straightforward to do. You’ll need to go to the iPhone connected to your Watch. Head to the Watch app and open the My Watch tab, tap the ‘I’ on the screen and then hit Unpair Apple Watch.
You can also erase your data (if you want) by heading to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings on the device itself.
Change the wrist-raise actionThis tip came from complaining to golf app developer Hole19 about constantly having to reopen the app while out on the course. Didn’t we feel like fools.
In the Apple Watch settings menu, turn on the Wrist Raise feature. Below, you’ll have a couple of options under ‘On Screen Raise Show Last App’. You can choose to show the last app while you’re in session, within two minutes of last use, within one hour of last use, or always. Now, when you raise your wrist you’ll see the last app you were using.
You can also do it from within the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Just go to General and then Wake Screen, you’ll have the same couple of options to choose from.
Today’s best smartwatch deals Get some bandsOne of the things Apple really pushes with the Apple Watch is bands. There are new bands released every few months, with new colours to match the season, and your wardrobe. That’s why we recommend having a look at what’s out there and taking advantage of the customisation options.
Read this: The best third-party Apple Watch bandsAnd if you don’t want to splash the cash on Apple’s bands, there are always third-party options. Despite new case sizes with the Apple Watch Series 4, your old bands will still fit, too – a handy design trick from Apple.
Struggling to swap them? Check out our how to change Apple Watch bands quick guide.
As with many third-party apps, Apple also lets you halt run tracking when you get interrupted or have to stop at a set of traffic lights. You can now enable automatic run pausing simply by heading to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, heading to the My Watch section and then selecting Workout. Here, you’ll be able to toggle on Running Auto Pause.
Unlock Watch from your iPhoneIf you didn’t do this in the initial setup process, you can still unlock your Apple Watch and iPhone at the same time without having to hammer in a passcode (if you’ve set one of those up). To do this, go to the Watch companion app, where you can toggle the Unlock with iPhone feature on or off. You need to be wearing the Watch for this feature to work, though.
Turn on heart rate notificationsApple is taking heart health more seriously, and one of the newer features is a notification when your heart rate is detected as lower or higher than it should be. You can enable it in the heart rate section of the companion app.
Read this:Apple Watch heart rate monitor essential guideWhen you turn it on, you’ll be asked to choose a threshold. Then, your Apple Watch will only alert you when you go past the threshold and appear to have been inactive for about 10 minutes. On top of that, it’ll look for signs that your elevated/falling heart rate is a longer-term problem, rather than a temporary blip brought on by something terrifying – like a horror movie.
If you find yourself getting stressed in the day, you may find it useful to tap into the Apple Watch Breathe app. This allows you to follow the on-screen instructions and focus on your breathing for a select amount of minutes. It’s a handy wellness feature from Apple, and you can edit details such as how many breaths per minute you want to take, how many notifications you receive and how prominent the haptic feedback is through the Watch app on your iPhone.Chain together your workoutsYou triathlete, you. To date the Apple Watch has let you down, but it’s gotten better, and you can now chain together workouts, which means less time rubbing those sweaty fingers around the screen. If you want to jump from one type of workout to another, rather than stopping the current one, swipe right and tap the + button to add a new one on.
Sharing Activity ringsApple’s answer to Fitbit, Garmin and the rest of the fitness tracker fraternity is its Activity platform. That’s where all of your daily movements are recorded. In its latest iteration you can now share activity progress with other Apple Watch users. To do it, you need to add friends, which has to be done by going to the dedicated Activity app on your iPhone. You can then select Sharing and hit the + icon in the corner to add contacts.
Jog on: The best Apple Watch running appsBack on the Apple Watch, go to the Activity app and swipe right to see Activity data from your friends. You can also comment on workouts to keep them motivated, or to make fun of them. Either way, it’s your call.
The move goal is your calorie benchmark for each day, and while it’s a satisfying one to tackle, that battle gets a little old if it’s set too high or too low. Every so often, the Watch will nudge you to let you know how you’re getting on, but did you know you can alter the number directly from the watch?
Simply go to the Activity app and Force Touch the rings – you should see the move goal pop up and allow you to adjust. This is really handy for when you steadily want to ramp up your targets.
Use pictures as watch facesBy default, the Apple Watch selects images from the Favorites folder on your iPhone – something we’d never thought to use before. So go and tag some images in iOS using the heart button at the bottom. When you use the photo album watch face it will randomly select photos from the folder. You can tap the face to cycle through images.
Essential reading: Best Apple Watch faces to try outAlternatively, you can now turn those photos into trippy designs with the kaleidoscope face. On your iPhone, you should now now see a ‘Create Watch Face’ option in the action menu on any picture. This will let you stick a picture on your Watch either as is, or in kaleidoscope form.
Control music playbackWe’ve already talked about how to add music to the Apple Watch, but what about controlling it on other devices? Well, if you’ve updated past watchOS 4.3, you can control the music playback on the Apple HomePod or iPhone straight from the Watch. Of course, iPhone users could briefly do this after watchOS 4 first launched, though it was swiftly removed after music streaming was re-added to the smartwatch through watchOS 4.1.
With many users enjoying the control, though, and the HomePod entering more homes, users are now one again able to select tunes, alter volume and skip all from the wrist.
Change AirPods volumeIf you want to change the volume on the AirPods without taking out your iPhone, you have to ask Siri. Convoluted to say the least, but if you have an Apple Watch, you’re in luck.
When you’re playing music on a Watch running on watchOS 4 or later, whether it’s from your iPhone or Watch, you can glance at your watch to see what’s “Now Playing.” All you have to do is rotate the Digital Crown to raise and lower the volume. It couldn’t be more convenient.
Enable Fall DetectionApple made a big deal about Fall Detection during the Series 4 unveiling, but the feature actually isn’t turned on by default. When it is, the Watch is able to detect falls and offer automatic assistance.
However, unless you’re above 65 years old, or you haven’t specified your age inside the Health app, taking a hard fall won’t activate the new feature. To enable it no matter your age, head to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tap the My Watch tab, go through to Emergency SOS and toggle the Fall Detection option.
Apple itself indicates that physically active people are more likely to trigger false positives, but only you can decide whether the potentially incessant notifications are worth it.
Check your data usageIf you’ve got a Series 3 or Series 4 with cellular, you may want to keep an eye on your data usage. You never know whether something will tip you over your monthly plan. Alternatively, it’s neat to see how little data the Apple Watch actually uses.
You’ll have to head over to the companion app, checking in on the cellular menu option to see the information. Once you do, however, you’ll find out how much data you’ve used in the current period and which apps are using that data.
Check in on storageThere’s a decent amount of room on the Apple Watch to accommodate apps, emails and music. If you want to see how much storage you have to play with, head to the Apple Watch companion app, go to General and then select Usage. Here, you’ll be able to get a breakdown of how much space apps are taking up.
Change text sizeIf you find yourself constantly squinting at your wrist to read the Watch’s notifications, you can change the text size. Simply go to Settings > Brightness & Text Size then configure it to whatever’s comfortable for you.
Eject water after a swimFrom Series 2 onward, the Apple Watch is waterproof and includes an eject mode to get rid of any water that’s left lurking inside after you’ve gone swimming. If you want to manually use this feature, swipe up from the main home screen to view the Apple Watch Control Center. Look for the water droplet icon and press it. You’ll then be prompted to twist the digital crown to eject the water.
It’s actually a good idea to tap the droplet button before getting in the shower or pool (but don’t worry if you forget) as it also locks the screen, preventing it from confusing water droplets for your fingers.
Ping your iPhoneLose your iPhone? Good thing you have your Apple Watch on because it can help you find your handset in a pinch. Swipe up to bring up the Control Center, look for the ‘Ping iPhone’ button and tap to be reunited with your iPhone. If you tap and hold the ‘Ping iPhone’ button, your iPhone’s LED flash will blink, giving you a visual guide in case the speaker gets too muffled.
Reply from the wristApple doesn’t have a keyboard on the Apple Watch (and probably never will), but there are other ways you can respond to texts and emails. Apart from using custom responses, you can either tap the microphone to dictate replies with your voice, or scribble them letter by letter. That’s a little tasking, but Siri is getting better at voice detection, and when you’re paired with some Bluetooth headphones with a mic, the experience is much smoother.
Force restartApple says to do this action as a last resort, so if you’re left with no choice then hold the Digital Crown and side button together for 10 seconds. Just like restarting your iPhone, the Apple logo will pop up and your watch should restart.
Get your next Apple Watch fixCover to dimIf your Watch is set to notify you or ring with sounds, but you’re in the middle of a meeting or situation where loud dings are rude, you can turn on ‘Cover to Mute’ in the Sound & Haptics settings. Then simply cover your watch for three seconds for it take effect.
Use third-party complicationsAdded to the mix in watchOS 2 (but we’ll forgive you if you’re new to this), information can be drawn from third-party apps into watch faces. On the Series 4, the main faces for these are Infograph and Infograph Modular – where you’ll get spots for eight and six complications respectively. On other Series, you’ll have the Modular, Utility and Chronograph options.
Press and hold the watch face to cycle through the selection of faces, and tap Customize to enter an editing mode. Swipe to the right to make the areas that can be customised appear in boxes. Tap the area you want to change, and then use the crown to scroll through options – this is where those third-party complications can be added. Most can be turned off if you prefer the minimalist look.
If you don’t want to deal with the Watch’s tiny display, you can also do this on your iPhone via the Face Gallery in the companion app.
Use Theater ModeHave you ever sat in a dark cinema, moved your arm to get a little more comfortable and then seen a beacon go off on your wrist? That was your Apple Watch. To avoid being a public nuisance in the cinema, just swipe up on the watch face and click the Greek theatre faces to enable Theater Mode, which will keep your Watch’s display off during your film.
Do some gym-based cardioApple GymKit has rolled out, and while it’ll take a while for gyms across the world to get in the necessary equipment, the process has begun. Essentially, GymKit allows you to tap your Apple Watch to an NFC terminal on cardio equipment, which will then perfectly sync up all your exercise data.
Transfer a call to your iPhoneReceived a call on your Watch, but want to continue it on your actual phone? No problem. Accept the call from the smartwatch and swipe up to send it over. Seamless.
Get your podcast onThe Podcast app was one of our most requested features for watchOS 5, and we’re finally getting it. With the update, you’ll be able to listen to your favourite shows on the go, with them syncing up with your iPhone and Mac. Handily, that means you can pause halfway through an episode on one device and pick up on another.
Master the Workout appApple’s Workout app got another upgrade in watchOS 5. After it already had a new look last year, including a whole bunch of new workouts, like High Intensity Interval Training, skiing and snowboarding, the big addition this time around is automatic exercise detection.
Read this: Apple Watch Activity and Workout app explainedHowever, this doesn’t work quite how you would expect. The Apple Watch will sense what kind of workout you’re doing, but it won’t automatically start tracking it without you doing anything. Instead, it sends you a notification telling you that it thinks you’re working out, and it’ll remind you to start the tracking. Once you’ve done so, it’ll give you retroactive credit for the amount of workout you’ve already done. Similarly, if you forget to end a workout it’ll prompt you to do so.
As for new workouts, yoga and hiking are finally in the list. Yoga’s algorithm is built off your heart rate, while hiking takes pace, heart rate, and elevation gain into consideration. Put the watch in power reserve modeDraining power too fast? Swipe up on the main watch screen to bring up the Control Center. The first icon displays current battery status. Press this to reveal the Power Reserve button.
And if you’re finding this to be a consistent problem, it’s worth finding out how to get more out of your device throughout the day. Read our 15 tips to improving Apple Watch battery life.
Trim notificationsBy default, the Apple Watch will show any notification that appears on your iPhone, but you can turn each one off individually to quell the digital noise. In the iPhone’s Apple Watch app menu tap Notifications and scroll down to ‘mirror iPhone alerts from’ and start turning off those annoying offenders.
Set up for left handersThe Digital Crown isn’t best placed for south paws, who generally wear their watch on the right arm. However, you can have the Apple Watch flip its controls so that the crown works on the bottom left instead of top right. In the iPhone companion app go to General > Watch Orientation and then choose your preferred wrist and Digital Crown position.
Thankfully, there are a couple of different ways to organise your apps. You can keep the old honeycomb grid (shown above) if you want, and if you do choose that way, know that it’s much easier to fire up the companion app, head over to App Layout and organise it all there, instead of on the watch itself. If you want to be done with the honeycomb grid, you can also switch over to a list view. On the Watch, just force touch on the app selection screen to choose the grid view option.
Make Mickey and Minnie speakSay you’re a bit sad, and you need a jolt of joy. You can head over to your Mickey or Minnie watch face and tap on them to hear them tell you the time in their trademark voices. You’ll need to make sure it’s on by heading to Sounds & Haptics in the companion and enabling ‘Tap to Speak’.
Trim watch facesWhile Mickey has been the face of Apple’s marketing campaign, and he’s a fun novelty, it’s virtually impossible to tell the time from his stubby arms. In fact, there are only three watch faces we actually can bear to use. Banish the rest by swiping up on any offending design. If you want one back, just press the + at the end of the list.
Delete stock Apple appsUnless you’re really invested in the stock market, you probably haven’t touched Apple’s Stocks app on the iPhone. So why would you open it up on your Apple Watch?
Back in iOS 10, Apple added the ability to remove stock apps from your iPhone. Lucky for you, deleting those stock apps also removes them from your Apple Watch.
A headline addition that landed through watchOS 4.2, Apple Pay Cash is essentially a prepaid debit card that’ll both let you pay for things in stores and pay friends. So if you owe your friends for that lunch, or you just lost a bet, you can simply open the messages app on your Watch and pay them. You can also request money from friends if they’re avoiding you.
Setting up Apple Pay Cash is simple. If you’ve got a debit card linked to your Apple Pay account, all you have to do is head to Settings on your phone, then ‘Wallet & Apple Pay’ then ‘Apple Pay Cash’. You simply agree to the terms and – voila – you’re all set up.
Check out these Apple Watch how-tosHow to use your Apple WatchHow to make an Apple Watch faceHow to stream music on Apple WatchHow to use Apple HealthHow to set up your Apple WatchHow to use Apple Watch Breathe appHow to make calls on Apple WatchHow to enable running auto pause Apple WatchHow to use Spotify on Apple WatchHow to add music tracks to Apple WatchHow to clear all notifications on Apple WatchHow to set an alarm on Apple WatchHow to update Apple WatchHow to get LTE on Apple WatchHow to use Siri on Apple WatchHow to unlock Mac with Apple WatchHow to pair Apple WatchHow to take an ECG
Apple has revealed what the future holds for its smartwatch in 2019 – and that future includes an App Store that lives on the wrist. It’s taken five years, but Apple has finally decided that, with watchOS 6, now is the time to make it easier to find, download and install apps straight from its Watch.
However, we can’t help feeling like it’s odd timing, and there’s an argument to suggest that Apple needn’t have bothered altogether. You only have to look at the high profile names that have already decided the Apple Watch is not worth the building time: Instagram, Google Maps, eBay, Amazon and Slack are among the companies that decided to drop their dedicated Apple Watch apps over the couple of years.
Essential reading: Best Apple Watch faces and complicationsWill the arrival of a dedicated App Store for the Apple Watch all of sudden see those companies drift back and pick up where they left off? It seems… doubtful. That said, Apple did make some moves during its WWDC keynote that it’ll hope entices other developers to invest their time in apps for its smartwatch again. Developers, for example, will now be able to build and design apps for the Apple Watch that work completely independently, and that means without an iPhone.
It’s also giving developers the tools to create more intelligent apps, like offering streaming audio from third-party media apps and apps that can access sensors, like heart rate and motion, even if the screen turns off.
Apps just don’t feel all that vital on a smartwatch
But a quick straw poll of the Wareable office tells you what we’ve been saying for some time: apps just don’t feel all that vital on a smartwatch. We wear Apple, Garmin, Fitbit and Samsung smartwatches, but apps sit pretty low on the list of things we use day-to-day, in comparison to things like notifications, music controls and tinkering with watch faces. Does Apple really have the ability to change that behaviour?There’s no doubt that it can do a better job of implementing a store front on its smartwatch than Google, Fitbit and Samsung have managed to come up with so far, but it’s likely these examples are more deeply rooted failures.
It’s a pretty clunky experience using the Google Play Store on Wear OS smartwatches, while Samsung has seemingly struggled from the start to entice developers to get on board with Tizen. Fitbit decided it needed to have an app store (or Gallery, as it calls it) to make its entry into the smartwatch space, but we’d be intrigued to know how many Ionic and Versa users are making use of the small pool of apps on offer.
Apple decided to dedicate a lot of time in its developer keynote to the arrival of its on-device App Store, but perhaps it should have focused more on the core smartwatch feature that it’s already doing a great job with.
It still refrains from opening the door to third-party developers to ramp up the watch faces on offer for Apple Watch owners, which is a shame, but it is improving them. Complications will now live more elegantly, and are also becoming richer, in terms of the information it can deliver.Perhaps the arrival of the on-device App Store could be the starting point for Apple to show the love to watch face developers and let them build on the great work it’s already done on this staple smartwatch feature. The idea of being able to quickly download a watch face from the Watch, as opposed to going to your iPhone to do it, definitely has more appeal.
Maybe Apple will prove us wrong and the changes it’s making for developers in watchOS 6 will change the way we use its smartwatch, and what we expect from rival smartwatches, but right now we’re sceptical.
It’s still offers the most compelling argument that you need one, but it’s a big ‘if’ it can really change our opinions on smartwatch apps needing to be a focal point.
Today’s best smartwatch deals
The Apple Watch has the power to play music directly from the wrist to a pair of Bluetooth headphones, no matter whether you’re an Apple Music or Spotify subscriber.
However, with the option to play music while connected or offline, there’s actually quite a few steps in playing music on the Apple Watch. For those with a collection of iTunes tracks, you can sync playlists across with ease, but you’re better served with a streaming service, as you’re able to access playlists in just a couple of minutes.
With the process not immediately obvious to newbies, though, and steps changing depending on your service, we’re here to help. Here’s all the details on how to put music on your Apple Watch, including instructions for adding music, connecting headphones and which Apple Watch models let you stream music offline.
How to use Apple Music on Apple Watch1. Open Apple Music on iPhoneTo get started, fire up the Apple Music app on your iPhone. We won’t go through the ins and outs of the app here, but you can search the library of more than 30 million tracks and curated playlists. If you don’t have a subscription to Apple Music, you can still use good old MP3s, but make sure they appear in the Music app through iTunes.
2. Open the Watch app on iPhoneGo to the Watch app on your iPhone and then scroll down to the Music tab. Tap Add music and you’ll be whisked off to Apple Music – and from here you can choose to browse by artists, albums, genres or playlists. Music used to have to be part of a playlist, but now you can add what you want. Just browse, and tap to add.
3. Sync music to Apple WatchThe music will only be transferred when the Apple Watch is on its charging cradle. The playlist will be marked ‘updating’ until it’s completed, after which it will say ‘synced’. You can add multiple playlists if you want, but when you run out of space, they’ll stop being added.
After years of workarounds and hassle, the Apple Watch Spotify app is now here. It’s by no means perfect, and features like offline playback and streaming over a cellular connection aren’t available, but you can still get the basics on your wrist by following the steps below.
1. Install the Apple Watch Spotify appWorking for both Spotify Free and Spotify Premium users, you’ll need to first make sure that you have the Spotify smartphone app installed and that you’re signed in. To do so on the wrist, go to the Watch app on your iPhone, search the App Store tab for ‘Spotify’, install it and then open it on your Apple Watch.
2. Add and play music from Apple Watch Spotify appYou can add music to your library straight from the app itself. The prominently placed heart can be tapped, and the track will be added to your music library. To retrieve it, just go to the Songs list in your Spotify library on iPhone.
A swipe to the left also shows you recently played music across your entire Spotify account. From here, you can scroll with your finger or the digital crown and swap albums or playlists. You only get to choose recent items, and you can’t select songs within those items – although you can skip – and set to shuffle using the toggle at the top of the screen.Music on Apple Watch without iPhoneIf you’re a Spotify subscriber, you’re unfortunately unable to play music through the service if you’re offline or relying on the Watch’s cellular connection. However, it’s a different story if you have Apple Music and the correct Apple Watch model.
When syncing to any version of the Watch through Apple Music, it will use the device’s internal storage in order to allow you to play tracks without the help of your phone. If you’re offline, though, you obviously can’t start searching for new tracks or playlists – you’re stuck with what’s downloaded on the Watch.
Naturally, always making sure everything is synced over can be a bit of a hassle, which is why cellular connectivity is great for when you want to search and play music not already downloaded onto the Watch. Providing you have an Apple Watch Series 3 or Apple Watch Series 4 with LTE (the red dot or red circle on the Digital Crown) and you’re paying that monthly cellular fee, you can do so.
Connect Bluetooth headphones to Apple WatchWhen connecting for the first time, check your Bluetooth headphones are in pairing mode and then head to Settings > Bluetooth and tap on your device to get connected. From then, the Apple Watch should automatically connect, but you can always head back to the Bluetooth menu to double check.
If the music starts pumping out of your iPhone, instead, you’ll need to force the issue by pressing and holding on the screen and choosing Bluetooth playback.
Today’s best smartwatch deals