After wearing an Apple Watch for nearly two months, my biggest complaint with the device still holds true.
The apps stink.
In fact, besides the apps from Apple that come preinstalled on the watch, I’ve only found three apps so far that are actually useful. The others are either too slow or try too hard to mimic the smartphone experience on a tiny screen strapped to your wrist.
Here are the third-party apps I enjoy the most.
Sunrise is the best calendar app for iPhone, and it’s now one of the only good third-party apps on Apple Watch. It syncs with all major calendar services like Google Calendar, which is great for me since Business Insider uses Google services for everything.
On the Apple Watch, Sunrise sends you a nice, clear notification for upcoming events.
I also added Sunrise to my Glances panel, which you access by swiping up from the bottom of the watch face screen. Glances are sort of like mini apps on the Apple Watch that can display real-time information. I set the Sunrise app as the first Glance that pops up, which makes it easy to see when my next meeting takes place.
This is what the Glance looks like:
Dark Sky is one of the best weather apps on iPhone. It tells you basic stuff like the temperature, but it can also use radar data to predict when it’s going to rain and for how long.
Dark Sky notifications are great on the Apple Watch. It sends you a quick nudge when it’s about to rain at your location. And that’s it! It’s really nice not having to open the iPhone app and check for the information. Dark Sky’s iPhone app is proactive and tells me something useful when I need to know it.
Uber’s app is dead simple. You launch the app, tap a button, and a car comes to your location. You also get a nice notification when your car is close. It’s much easier to use than the iPhone version.
The downside: Uber on Apple Watch can be slow at times. (More on that in a bit.)
Why are these apps so good?
All three apps have one thing in common: They give me relevant information at a quick glance or have greatly simplified the full smartphone app experience. I don’t have to go poking through the app to find what I need. Getting info from Dark Sky, Uber, and Sunrise is just as easy as quickly checking the time. More developers should look to these three apps for inspiration.
More Apple Watch apps are about to get better
At Apple’s big developers conference in June, the company announced that developers will be able to write apps that run natively on the Apple Watch. Today, Apple Watch apps actually run on your iPhone and feed information to the watch’s display via Bluetooth. That slows things down a lot, and is the reason why apps like Uber often take forever to load.
The new Apple Watch operating system will launch this fall and developers are already working on these so-called native apps for it. Third-party apps will get a lot better by the end of the year.
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