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

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 8, 2015.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

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

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


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

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

    Philips Hue

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

    Calcbot for Apple Watch is free on the App Store.


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

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

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

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

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

    Article Link: The Quest for Quality: Five of the Most Useful Apple Watch Apps
  2. kodos macrumors 6502

    May 1, 2010
    Revolutionary! LOL. I still don't quite get it. I have a Smartwatch (Asus Zenwatch) and at first - I was having fun with apps like these, then I slowly started pulling my phone out because the UX is simply better and I have to have it on me at all times anyway.

    There's this weird schism between what we want to do on the watches and what we want to do with our phones. I don't think this is a case of Google Wear being inferior, I just haven't seen the killer app for these things yet.
  3. sampaul macrumors member


    Aug 22, 2012
    I still haven't got my Apple Watch. FML.:mad:

    Attached Files:

  4. ScottHammet macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2011
    No *****. That's exactly what I was thinking..."Quit showing me all the amazing and wonderful things I could be doing with the WATCH I DON'T YET HAVE!".

    How about a useful story on what's being done to address the backlog of missing 42mm SS w/ SSLB watches? How about a nice graph or something that summarizes all of the reports of who ordered their watch when and whether or not they've gotten theirs? Lord knows there's enough data in the Forums for one of the MacRumors interns to build a us a pretty graph.
  5. Flow39 macrumors 68000


    Sep 7, 2014
    At the Apple Store
    Downloaded CalcBot the first day I got my has been very useful, glad they put this app out!
  6. ohwevad macrumors member

    Jan 4, 2009
    I'm glad we're starting to see screenshots with the bezel. It is a little thing, but it's more attractive and easier to see the scale of the interface on the watch.
  7. macduke macrumors G3


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    I'm excited to have Calcbot on my wrist! I've always wanted a calculator watch but they looked so horrible.

    I feel like some of these designs are going to change over time to address black screen design. Having solid filled boxes with padding holding data is how you design on the iPhone. Having an OLED display that turns off "black" pixels changes the game in two ways: 1. Use of black saves power 2. You can design to the edge of the screen without a margin, since the Apple Watch already has a margin surrounding the display. This allows you to fit more information on the screen on a single line without it feeling cramped because of the built-in bezel margin paired with OLED. Shove that list item up against the side and make the background black! Use separators between list elements, or otherwise highlight/make certain elements stand out using different colors, sizes and weights of type. Then you can fit more information on the screen at a time, which is going to be one of the biggest design problems on smart watches in general. On the surface it appears to be simple design but it will need a lot of finesse to get just right. I have a feeling typography is going to be much more important in watch app design than we realize.
  8. Joe Rossignol Editor

    Joe Rossignol

    Staff Member

    May 12, 2012
    I added the bezels to the screenshot myself, glad you like them!
  9. thisisdallas macrumors regular


    Sep 26, 2012
    My favorites are

    1. Lifesum - Really nice and streamlined dietary/water/activity tracker. Has a bug with the activity portion and the watch, but the design of the watch app and phone app are unbeatable

    2. New York Times - Love the summary stories with the save for later feature. The breaking news notifications are also really nice.

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

    4. HoursTracker - I loooooove not having to take my phone out to clock in at work anymore. So convenient. App is ugly and buggy on the watch, but it works almost always, so I'm not complaining just yet given the lack of testing able to be done.

    5. Lark - Personal trainer/dietician on your wrist. Really easy to use and almost nicer on the watch than on the phone. If anyone is looking for a great food/sleep/activity tracker that requires very minimal effort, here's your app

    And of course the 5 mentioned by MR are also really really nice (especially Things)
  10. blackbear219 macrumors regular

    Sep 5, 2012
    My wife and I like Wunderlist to manage our grocery list.
  11. mentaluproar macrumors 68000


    May 25, 2010
    Ohio, USA
  12. jagolden macrumors 6502a


    Feb 11, 2002
    I don't think we're ever gong to see a "killer" app for smart watches that make them a must-have/use device.
    I'm really enjoying the convenience of not having to pull out my phone constantly to check calendars/notifications/texts and even the occasional call. Wife and I have incredibly busy and complex schedules. I'm also very forgetful so the little reminders help me a lot.

    Down the road wearable tech is going to transform into much more - I don't know what, that will make it more needed. It won't just be a smart watch.

    No matter what, though, don't know how or when people will ever get over talking to their wrist AND having both sides of a conversation public. Maybe a resurgence of the little bluetooth earpieces?

    It's a cool piece of tech, but no, not a must-have.

    At the risk of repeating myself, I had a Newton and a MessagePad 2000. Loved them and used them to death, but look where they went. But, I think of them as the distant ancestors to the now ubiquitous tablets.
  13. Rogifan macrumors Core


    Nov 14, 2011
    John Gruber says the updated MLB app makes it one of his favorite Watch apps now. Anyone have screen shots?

    Oh and someone needs to ban the phrase "killer app". It's so meaningless. What's the killer app for the iPhone? The internet?
  14. dannyyankou macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2012
    Scarsdale, NY
  15. perreo-intenso macrumors newbie

    Oct 1, 2014
    Tinder already have one....
  16. GuitarDTO macrumors 6502a

    Feb 16, 2011
    Is the general consensus that this thing is not a must have device? Also, if you feel that way, is there something in particular that WOULD make it a must have device? Just curious, as a still interested but yet to take the plunge outsider.
  17. kwikdeth macrumors 6502a

    Feb 25, 2003
    Tempe, AZ
    maybe its just me but i have to chuckle at the fact that theyre implying quality apps are hard to find two weeks after launch.
  18. BruceEBonus macrumors 65816


    Sep 23, 2007
    Derbyshire, England
    Top Tip: while AppleWatch is charging-you won't be able to use certain Apps. However don't despair. Simply buy a small notepad. You can write down stuff that the other apps will do like:
    Remind you to have a haircut
    When to eat your next meal
    Scribe some basic mathematical calculations
    When your next important meeting is
    Friends birthday dates
    When to exercise and where
    Contact phone numbers
    Note down passwords etc
    The list goes on.
    This alternative utility does not need batteries or linking- to an iPhone of course so this could be a real boon a proper money saver?

    Apple Stores do not sell them. But most newsagents do. And not too expensive either. A great standby utility when you're iPhone or Watch is inaccessible.
  19. AppLvr4Life macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2013
    I agree with a couple of these

    I agree especially with HUE, love being able to make sure the lights in the house are turned off while I am out when I know everyone has left the house; because, I just know someone has left and at least one light is always on.

    I have a few of other favorites:

    1. theScore - Really does a fantastic job of instant sports updates, in fact I literally can watch the play happen and the score change and my watch gives feedback, it is amazingly instant.
    2. 3 Hour Diet - (wish they would call it "meal" not "diet") as someone who must eat small meals every 3 hours the notification and touch timer are quite good
    3. Wunderlist - has done a fantastic job for notifications on my to-do list, love the interface
    4. HUE -as stated - Love my Hue system.....:D

    The thing I have had the most fun using.. Apple Pay.
    I have had more responses using Apple Pay on the watch, peoples eyes just light up. Just wait till those that are going to get the watch and use it, used it at Panera today for coffee and then at Firehouse Subs, both clerks said "Sweet What Did You Do!"... fun to watch reactions, seems to happen daily...Simple things sometimes :rolleyes:

    The other 4 mentioned are quite nice also. Used Clear for a bit, was quiet good but Wunderlist just seem to fit better. (For Me)

  20. jagolden macrumors 6502a


    Feb 11, 2002
    Agree on this. The "killer App" will be different for everyone based on their need.
  21. Aniseedvan macrumors 65816

    May 14, 2012
    Workflow is almost tipping me to buy a watch :) I would love to see how the interactions work, being able to kick off my running late workflow from the watch would be smart.

    Nothing is a killer app, but might make a compelling use of the technology for how it exists now.
  22. mi7chy macrumors 603


    Oct 24, 2014
    A lot of these seem redundant since the functionality is already on the tethered phone. For example, Google Search/Google Now can do what CalcBot does but hands free via voice and for free. Can't imagine anyone would prefer to fumble with a watch size keypad.
  23. rjlawrencejr macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2007
    I must agree with Gruber, the updated MLB At-Bat is great because I can now get updates on all games with a quick glance without having to engage with my phone and I think we all know the stated reasons for times when engaging with your phone may not be appropriate or convenient.

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

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

    Jul 22, 2011
    Having had the Pebble since inception (original Kickstarter plastic, then Steel), the "must have" feature is not having to pull your phone out for every text, email, phone can screen your notifications from your wrist. The busier you are, the more valuable this capability becomes. Once you get used to having these simple things on your wrist, at a glance, there's no going back, IMO. But Pebble can't get the software right. So while their hardware has some good features, the experience lacks an integrated "package" of software/hardware that I'm expecting Apple can deliver.

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

    Aug 2, 2005
    I feel like when ever someone talks about what the watch can do, they need to always (yes, ALWAYS) put it in the context of why it's better to do it on the watch instead of the phone. Both devices are mobile. Both devices use apps. One screen is small on your wrist, the other is about 4-6 times larger in your pocket. Your pocket is about 10 inches from your watch.

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

    Right. There are really very, very few reasons doing an "app" on the wrist is better than the phone.

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