Archived Post

Watch App Store — First impressions of Third-Party Watch Apps

The Apple Watch arrived last Friday, and the device has not left my wrist since I pulled it out of the box. I’ve used it continuously, so much that I’ve drained the battery dry each day. Besides checking out all the features of the Watch, I also spent a good deal of time browsing the Watch App Store. Read on to find out what I think about the Watch App Store and which apps landed on my device first.

Watch App Store First Impressions

My first impressions of the App Store are mixed. There are a lot of apps at launch and I enjyed browsing through them, but only a handful really interest me. This isn’t a negative reflection on the app developer community, but rather the nature of this new device and my expectations for it.

First and foremost, my experience with the Watch App Store is jaded by my expectations for the Watch. When browsing through the app store, I looked at apps with the perspective of “what can this Watch app do for me” and not “ooh, my favorite xyz app is available for the Watch. Let’s install it.” I want to streamline my Watch interactions so only the most useful information is available on my wrist. As a result, I’ve examined each app closely before installing it on my Watch. This is a very personalized experience and unique to me, which I believe is what Apple intended for the wrist-worn device.

Also, this impression is the result of the Watch itself being a new platform and a new category of device. While some developers took a risk and released their apps before the Watch launch, many developers waited to release their Watch apps until they could test it on the actual Watch hardware. As a result, there are a lot of missing apps especially in the calendar and productivity categories.

Apple’s Stock apps

Apple’s native apps are also a factor in determining how many Watch apps I will install and how I will use the Watch App Store. Most of the quick interactions that I want from the Watch will be provided by Apple’s default apps, including messaging, phone call management and basic exercise tracking. Unlike the iPhone or iPad which I use more intensively, I don’t see a need to replace most of the stock Watch apps with something else.

What Apps Have I installed

There are a few gaps in what is offered by Apple’s stock apps, and these are the category of apps that I have installed on my Watch. I need a task manager and have been using Todoist, but it is not available yet on the Watch. As a result, I have switched to Things. I’ll revisit this decision when Todoist comes out, but for the time being Things works great on the Watch.

I also installed Runtime – Simple Run Tracking for when I go hiking or biking outside. I love the app for its simple interface and detailed GPS tracking that plots my routes whether I am running on the road or hiking deep in the woods. The Watch app allows you to start recording your activity right from the Watch and displays notable details such as elapsed time and elevation during a live activity. When you are done, you can view all the details on your iPhone and sync the fitness data with Apple’s Health app.

DayOne also earned a spot on my Watch so I can log entries into my nature journal on the go. The app is meant to be convenient to use with several customizable slots that you can use to generate an entry quickly. For example, I entered “Saw this interesting bird today” and “Visited this scenes vista” so I can pull up a recent photo, tap one of these profiles and create a new entry in less than a minute.

Apple’s music app is great for iTunes, but I use Spotify for music, and the streaming service has yet to port its app to the Watch. In the interim, I have installed Pacemaker, which creates personal mixes based on your iTunes and Spotify playlist. It’s perfect!

Last but not least, I installed Dark Sky for Weather. This one may not stay too long as I find the stock Weather app shows a sufficient of detail for the current weather conditions and immediate forecast. I’ll have to decide if the up-to-the-hour accuracy of Dark Sky is useful enough for it to earn a permanent spot on my Watch.

Apps I Plan to Install

I really like the idea of DataMan Next for tracking cellular usage and Homing Beacon, a pin drop app to help you find your way back to a location.

Other candidates include Slack for AWT communication, Knock for unlocking your Mac, Do button by IFTTT, and ProCamera 8+, which will allow me to remote control my iPhone’s camera. My list could go on and on, but these apps should keep me busy enough over the next week.

What do you think of the Watch App Store? Is it what you expected? What apps did you install on your Watch? Let us know in the comments.

Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Steve is the founder and former publisher of Apple World Today and has authored a number of books about Apple products. He's an avid photographer, an FAA-licensed drone pilot, and a really bad guitarist. Steve and his wife Barb love to travel everywhere!