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The best Apple Watch apps of 2019

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The Apple Watch is the best smartwatch you can buy, and the watch's App Store is one big reason why. It took a few years for app developers to figure out how people used their Apple Watches and design the best wrist-based experiences, but now the App Store is stocked with useful, entertaining and productivity-boosting apps.

Apple says there are "thousands" of Apple Watch apps. We whittled down that list to the 25 best Apple Watch apps by taking into account user reviews, our personal experiences and features. Some apps make more sense to have on your wrist than others.

With watchOS 6, which rolled out this fall, Apple introduced a game-changing feature: an independent App Store right on the watch itself, so you don't have to install watch apps on your iPhone first. That software supports Series 1-5. Now that there are plenty of apps to download onto your Apple Watch, here are the 25 best Apple Watch apps to make the most of this smartwatch.

Fitness

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MapMyRun (Free, with in-app purchases)

Under Armour's workout-tracking app is one of the best fitness apps on the iPhone, and it's one of the best Apple Watch apps, too. If you've ever used MapMyRun to log your miles, continuing to train with the watch app is a no-brainer. 

MapMyRun uses the watch's built-in GPS and heart rate monitor to track a variety of workouts, including outdoor and treadmill runs, walks and bike rides. The app displays your distance, duration, pace and heart rate throughout each workout. MapMyRun can be connected to Under Armour's MyFitnessPal app for a well-rounded look at your health and activity. That's useful if you're watching your weight or trying to meet a training goal.

MapMyRun can be paired to Under Armour's lineup of Bluetooth-equipped shoes for more advanced details like whether you land on the ball of your foot or your heel as you pound the pavement.

   

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Nike Run Club (Free)

Nike's relationship with Apple runs deep: The two companies partnered on a Nike+ edition of the Apple Watch, which includes a specially designed Nike sport watch band and a watch face that puts the company's Nike Run Club watch app front and center. But you don't have to buy the Nike model to start using the Nike Run Club app, one of the best  Apple Watch apps for running.

The free app logs stats like distance, pace, splits, heart rate and more. It also offers free audio-guided runs, customized coaching plans to help you meet your goals, and a social element that lets friends cheer you on.

   

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Runtastic (Free, with in-app purchases)

Adidas' running app, Runtastic, is one of the best Apple Watch apps for fitness because of its interface. The design is clean and colorful, with one screen that shows you everything you need to know while you run: pace, mileage, time elapsed and heart rate. You can customize that screen to show you the data you want at a glance. On another screen, a swipe to the left is where you find music controls.

Like other running apps, Runtastic offers voice coaching to help you meet your goals. The app also delivers targeted challenges if you sign up for them. If you subscribe to Adidas Premium for $9.99 a month, you'll unlock six training plans to put you on a successful road to your next race.

  

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Strava (Free, with in-app purchases)

Runners and cyclists who use Strava will love the Apple Watch version of the app. You don't need to carry your phone with you to log miles if you're wearing a Series 2, 3, 4 or 5 with built-in GPS. With a cellular version of the Apple Watch, you can stream music and take calls while out on the trail.

The Strava watch app itself is fairly basic: It records runs, bike rides and swims, and displays data like heart rate, mileage and pace. The Strava iPhone app is more fully featured, but you have the option to use the Apple Watch's native Workout app to track a run or a ride and then export that data to Strava using a separate iOS app, HealthFit ($2.99).

   

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Seven (Free, with in-app purchases)

Research shows that a 7-minute daily workout using your body weight can improve your overall fitness level. Seven is an Apple Watch app that guides you through that 7-minute workout using animated figures to demonstrate moves. You can choose from three goals — losing weight, improving strength or getting fit — and Seven will suggest workouts to help you reach your goal.

Seven offers a premium tier for $9.99 a month that gives you access to the entire workout library as well as coaching from a personal trainer. The app will also create personalized 7-minute workouts based on your specific needs. If you don't have time to stream workout videos online, Seven is the best Apple Watch app for folks on the go.

  

Health

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Headspace (Free, with in-app purchases)

The popular meditation app Headspace puts guided breathing and meditation sessions on the wrist. If you're trying to cut down on your phone use, this is one of the best Apple Watch apps for detoxing.

You can choose from quick 1-minute meditation mini-sessions or full 10-minute sessions to get your day started or take a break from the grind of daily life. Headspace offers a curated selection of free sessions; a premium subscription ($12 per month, or $70 per year) unlocks hundreds of sessions, including SOS sessions for easing anxiety in stressful moments.

  

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Calm (Free, with in-app purchases)

Calm's beautiful interface makes meditating on the Apple Watch even more, well, calming. The app offers guided sessions in increments of 3 to 25 minutes, so you can choose a brief breathing session or settle in for a longer course on mindfulness. Calm also offers programs ranging in length from seven days to 30 days to get started with or continue a meditation practice.

If you wear your Apple Watch to bed, Calm's Sleep Stories are celebrity-narrated tales designed to ease you into a peaceful night's rest. 

Like Headspace, Calm offers a subscription with full access to the app's library of programs, sessions and Sleep Stories. The premium tier is $15 a month, or $70 a year.

  

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Lifesum (Free, with in-app purchases)

If you're following a special diet and need help keeping yourself accountable, Lifesum's nutrition tracker is one of the best Apple Watch apps and a perfect assistant. The app lets you input meals, keep track of calories and macros, and easily see an overview of your food consumption. It's a perfect complement to the iPhone version of the app, which creates a diet based on your goals and even offers recipes to help you plan meals.

The watch version of Lifesum is a beautifully designed app, with a colorful look that evokes Apple's Activity app and the popular rings that have motivated people to get in shape and stay active. Lifesum designed complications for the watch that put nutrition info, such as how many calories you have left for the day, right next to other important snippets like the weather.

  

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MyFitnessPal (Free, with in-app purchases)

One of the original iPhone apps for calorie counting offers an Apple Watch version that puts a snapshot of your day (at least when it comes to activity and food) on your wrist.

The watch app is incredibly basic: You'll see your step count, calorie count and nutrition breakdown if you enter your food intake in the MyFitnessPal app on your iPhone. It's not the prettiest or most motivational Apple Watch app, but if you've been using MyFitnessPal for years to track your activity and diet, the watch version is a useful way to quickly see if you've got enough calories left over for a dessert.

  

Music and Podcasts

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Apple Music ($9.99 a month)

It's not a big surprise that Apple offers the best Apple Watch app for music. Apple Music is one of the few streaming music services that doesn't offer a free tier, but if you pony up for a monthly subscription, you can listen to all of your favorite tunes on the Apple Watch. With an LTE watch and a separate data plan, you can stream songs even without your phone nearby. 

You can also download Apple Music playlists to the watch for offline listening without an LTE plan, which is useful if you prefer to work out unencumbered by your iPhone. Just pair some Bluetooth earbuds to the watch and hit the ground running.

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Pandora (Free, with in-app purchases)

Pandora Music on the Apple Watch takes all of the effort out of streaming, because the app tailors radio stations to your tastes and lets you control playback on the watch itself. 

Pandora offers two paid tiers: Pandora Premium is $4.99 a month and allows for limited offline radio play. Pandora Plus is $12.99 a month and offers unlimited streaming and offline music playback. You'll need a Premium account to save music to the Apple Watch, just as you do with Apple Music.

  

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SoundHound (Free, with in-app purchases)

If you're out and about and desperately need to know what song is playing in a restaurant, at a coffee shop or at a friend's house, launching the Apple Watch version of SoundHound lets you immediately identify the tune. The Apple Watch app also displays the lyrics as you're jamming along. 

If you have an Apple Music account connected to SoundHound, you can add the song to one of your playlists.

Apple Watch owners with LTE watch plans can use SoundHound without their iPhones nearby.

 

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Audible (Free, with in-app purchases)

The latest version of the Apple Watch's software, watchOS 6, enabled streaming spoken audio over LTE. That means Audible's audiobooks can be streamed on the watch —  you can also transfer audiobooks from your phone to your Apple Watch for offline listening, as you've been able to do since 2018.

The watch app will sync with the iPhone app to pick up right where you left off, so you won't lose your spot.

Audible requires listeners to pay for credits, so you can't download unlimited audiobooks for free. But the option to either stream or store audiobooks on the watch is a welcome addition.

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Overcast (Free, with in-app purchases)

My favorite iPhone podcast app is also the best Apple Watch app for podcasts. Overcast offers a fully featured Apple Watch app that makes catching up on the latest episodes of my regular rotation of podcasts dead simple. Every podcast I'm subscribed to in Overcast automatically downloads new episodes to my iPhone and my Apple Watch when I'm connected to Wi-Fi, so I can listen wherever I am — regardless of whether my phone is nearby.

With a cellular Apple Watch, you can stream podcasts to your watch with a pair of Bluetooth earbuds, no iPhone required.

You can subscribe to Overcast Premium to remove ads in the app for $9.99 a year.

  

Sleep tracking

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Sleep++ (Free, with in-app purchases)

Apple doesn't offer a native sleep-tracking app, but Sleep++ is one of the best Apple Watch apps designed to fill in the gap. If you wear your watch to bed, the app records your sleep automatically. A manual mode gives you more control over how and when the app tracks your rest — just open Sleep++ and tell the app that you're going to sleep. The app will deliver a report the following morning on the quality and length of your rest.

The app is also integrated with HealthKit, so you can share your sleep data with other HealthKit-integrated apps to see an overview of your sleep, activity, workouts and other health data in one spot.

  

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Sleep Tracker ++ by Sleepmatic ($1.99)

Sleep Tracker ++ is a completely automatic sleep-tracking apps that can even detect naps, which many sleep-tracking apps (and activity bands that track sleep) can't do.

The paid app allows you to adjust the sensitivity of its sleep detection, which is useful if you move around a lot while in bed. Sleep Tracker ++ also offers a note-taking feature that lets you document how you felt when you woke up and hashtag each night's rest for easier searching.

Like Sleep++, Sleep Tracker ++ is integrated with HealthKit for a full picture of your sleep and activity.

  

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Pillow (Free, with in-app purchases)

Pillow is one of the most beautiful Apple Watch apps around, for sleep-tracking or any other activity. It functions as a sleep-tracker and an alarm clock, rousing you when you enter light sleep instead of plucking you from a deep sleep, so you'll wake up feeling refreshed instead of groggy.

The app offers a slew of premium features for $5 a month, or $28 a year. The premium tier lets you record the sounds of your environment during the night so you can assess whether something is disturbing you (a snoring partner, perhaps?) without your knowledge. The paid version also features three nap modes (power nap, recovery and full cycle nap) and integration with Runkeeper.

  

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AutoSleep ($2.99)

If you want to track your sleep, AutoSleep is one of the best Apple Watch apps to try. It automatically detects when you fall asleep and when you wake, then delivers a full analysis in the morning based on time spent in bed, movement and heart rate.

AutoSleep also works when you don't wear your Apple Watch to bed, but the analysis is less detailed because it's based on your time spent not wearing the watch, instead of incorporating movement and heart rate data.

 

Smart home

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HomeDash ($12.99)

If your house is decked out with HomeKit-compatible smart gear, HomeDash is one of the best Apple Watch apps for controlling it all.

You can create scenes in the iPhone app and then use your Apple Watch to control the devices in each room in your house. HomeDash works with accessories across a variety of smart-home categories from a plethora of device makers, including Philips Hue, Eve's Elgato, Ikea's Tradfri and D-Link's Omna 180.

If you don’t want to pull out your iPhone to turn on the lights (or wait for Siri to hear you and respond), then the HomeDash watch app is the easiest way to control your smart home.

  

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Home+ 4 ($14.99)

For an advanced smart-home setup, Home+ 4 is one of the pricier but most fully featured Apple Watch apps you can buy. 

The app works with all of your HomeKit-compatible accessories, which you can group in scenes or by rooms on the iPhone app.

On the watch, you can see your devices grouped in rooms or scenes and turn them on or off with a tap. You can also see battery percentages for your devices, stream video from compatible smart doorbells and security systems, and use the watch as a remote control for all of your devices.

  

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Philips Hue (Free)

For many people, the Philips Hue smart light bulbs are the gateway devices for setting up a smart home. Those folks don't need an expensive smart-home remote-control app like HomeDash, which is why the Philips Hue Apple Watch app is a perfect (and free) way to customize the smart lights in your house.

The app lets you control the lights in each room, either as a group or individually. You can also set the mood if you've customized the lights to change color based on the activities going on in your house, because working from home and relaxing require very different lighting setups. Like the Hue bulbs themselves, the Philips Hue watch app is the perfect way to get started with a smart home.

Productivity

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Todoist (Free, with in-app purchases)

Todoist's popular to-do list app is one of the best Apple Watch apps, because the service makes it easy to keep track of your daily tasks on your Mac, iPhone, iPad or on your wrist. You can add tasks on the watch using voice dictation, get reminders about deadlines and check completed actions off your list. Your to-do lists are synced across all of your Apple devices, so you don't need to whip out your phone or crack open your MacBook to stay on top of your calendar.

The feeling of crossing an item off your to-do list (or marking as done with a tap on your wrist) is so satisfying that this app is a must-have.

  

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Evernote (Free, with in-app purchases)

The legacy note-taking app has become so much more than just a place to jot down your thoughts. Evernote is where you store documents, business cards, recipes — basically anything you need to reference later. 

The Apple watch app lets you create notes and reminders using voice dictation, view business cards and checklists and mark items as complete. You can't view notebooks in the watch app, but for light tasks, Evernote on the watch is a perfect way to see important tasks at a glance.

Evernote Premium is $8 a month, or $70 per year.

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Microsoft PowerPoint Remote (Free, with in-app purchases)

Here's the best Apple Watch app for subtly flexing on your colleagues. Simply install Microsoft PowerPoint and turn your Apple Watch into a remote for your PowerPoint slides.

It's incredibly simple, but the watch app is a useful way to take control of a presentation. You can page through slides, reverse to a previous slide, end a presentation or restart it to present to another cohort of co-workers. Some watch apps try to do too much, but Microsoft found the perfect use for the PowerPoint app.

 

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Productive - Habit Tracker (Free, with in-app purchases)

The best way to create healthy habits is repetition, and that's where Productive comes in. The habit-building app's Apple Watch version lets you create new daily routines and mark them as completed. The app sends you reminders at specific times to work out, take your meds or any other habits you're trying to stick with, then tallies up how many days you complete the tasks and cheers you on.

A monthly subscription for creating unlimited habits is $7, or $30 for the year.