Bought an Apple Watch? Get these apps and games first

For a company that is not listed as a watchmaker, they sure make a mean timepiece. The Apple Watch is now outselling the likes of Rolex, which is an amazing feat for a product that’s only been available for three years.

This is partly due to the fact it’s not really a watch. It’s a wearable, a mini smartphone on your wrist and touchscreen devices are Apple’s speciality. And hey, come on, if you are going to spend a large chunk of your monthly pay packet on some fancy wrist accessory, you may as well get something that does more than tell the time (your smartphone does that anyway!).

Much like the iPhone, the Apple Watch has a vast array of third-party games and apps that turn the wearable into an indispensable part of your wardrobe. However, it’s not a case of downloading anything and everything – you need to pick what is best for you.

It can be a bit of minefield and quite stressful to go searching through the App Store trying to tailor your wearable, so we’ve done it for you. Read on and see the 21 essential apps we’ve selected to get the best from your Apple Watch.

Best Apple Watch apps 2018: Essential apps

From helping you improve your running to checking the weather, these games and apps will help you get the most out of your Apple Watch.

1. Peak (free; with in-app purchases)

Featuring vibrant and often addictive tasks, Peak is already one of the best brain-training apps on the iPhone, and is now available on the Apple Watch too. The games are simple and quick to complete, meaning they’re well suited to a smartwatch – and offer a great way of keeping your thinking sharp. What’s more, Peak was created by a small team of neuroscientists and designers, so it’s likely to have some real benefits. Get playing!

2. Lifeline 2 (£1.99)

Lifeline was one of the best games on the Apple Watch, but Lifeline 2 somehow improves on it. Like the first game, Lifeline 2 puts the fate of a fictional character in your hands, and lets you interact with them via your Apple Watch or iPhone. Although it’s only a text based game, Lineline 2 is able to weave a magical, engaging storyline – and is one of the most creative, rewarding experiences on Apple Watch. A must-have app for any Apple Watch owner into games.

3. Runkeeper (free; with in-app purchases)

If you’re interested in running and improving your fitness, Runkeeper is an essential download for your Apple Watch. Superior to the Apple Watch’s own Activity app in every way, Runkeeper gives you all the information you’ll need in an easy to use interface. Alongside basic information such as pace and distance, Runkeeper also offers a range of running interval programs. After your workout, you’ll get a detailed statistical breakdown of your progress via Runkeeper’s iPhone app.

4. iTranslate (free; with in-app purchases)

One of the most useful apps available for the Apple Watch, iTranslate gives users the ability to translate phrases and words in more than 90 languages. What’s more, it’s also one of the first apps to benefit from watchOS 4 optimisation. iTranslate can play translated phrases back using the Apple Watch’s built-in speaker. Users can launch the app directly from the watch face, and the app can detect the user’s location to determine which language to translate to. A larger complication displays useful phrases depending on the time of day – and it’s compatible with Time Travel.

5. Dark Sky (£3.99)

Dark Sky is already one of the best weather apps on the iPhone, and uses a stunning UI and precise information to keep you one step ahead come rain or shine. Now available on the Apple Watch, Dark Sky is more useful than ever. Significantly better than Apple’s own bundled weather app, Dark Sky beams up-to-date weather info straight to your wrist – and, because it’s watchOS 4 optimised, it even features its own Complication and Time Travel compatibility.

6. Just Eat (free)

Just Eat is one of the most popular takeaway apps in the UK, and a quick look at its statistics makes it easy to see why. With over 20,000 restaurants already signed up, Just Eat provides a quick and painless way to order takeaway food using your phone or tablet – and even Apple Pay.

Just Eat’s Watch app adds an extra topping of convenience with real-time alerts, the ability to check your order status and even an expected delivery time. If you’re collecting your food, the app will even send directions to your wrist. Friday nights will ever be the same again.

7. Microsoft Translator (free)

Microsoft has released some of the best apps for the Apple Watch, and Microsoft Translator continues the trend. The app is already available on the iPhone, but it really shines on the Apple Watch. With Translator, users can speak to their Apple Watch and instantly receive translations for 50 different  languages. Translations are then synced between your iPhone and Apple Watch, and the app even allows you to favourite key phrases for quicker access. A must-have app for any traveller.

8. Dashlane (free; with in-app purchases)

We already love the iPhone and desktop version of Dashlane, but the inclusion of a sophisticated Apple Watch app sweetens the deal. Great for power users, or those with multiple accounts, Dashlane lets users change passwords for over 200 separate sites with a single tap.

The password manager app also connects with desktop and iPhone notifications, meaning it will alert you in the event of a security breach. After that, a tap of your Apple Watch will allow you to change the password to a more secure one.

9. Forza Football (freewith in-app purchases)

Football crazy? Forza is a brilliant game if you’re a footie fan, keeping you in the loop on the latest scores in your favourite leagues via Watch notifications. Instead of pinging you constantly though, Forza Football focuses on simplicity, sending you the key events in a match rather than a blow-by-blow account of the game.

When something happens that you want more information on – a goal, a foul, a red card – Forza’s Watch app connects with its iPhone app so you can bring up more details on your smartphone. Afraid of finding out the score when you’ve recorded the match for later? Easy, just mute the app – sadly, it can’t mute pub conversations though, so watch out…

10. Microsoft Outlook (free)

We’re long past the days when Microsoft and Apple wouldn’t get along. These days, both companies are pretty co-operative across their platforms, because they see the opportunity to sell to users of each other’s hardware. That means Microsoft was an early developer for the Apple Watch, and its Outlook email app remains one of the most useful productivity tools around. The Watch version of that app lets you preview messages from your inbox, as well as archiving read emails and scheduling your replies. If you’re short on time, it even has a list of pre-written replies you can send, and the option to dictate your own.

Outlook also has its own Glance screen, giving you a quick summary of your inbox and upcoming events, making it easy to check your schedule quickly.