So you’ve unboxed a new Apple Watch and now you want to unlock all the cool features and see what this thing is all about. Once you pair your Apple Watch with your iPhone, the Watch app on your iPhone will ask you if you want to add all your compatible apps. You can do this, but I recommend skipping that step for now and slowly adding apps to your Apple Watch over time to see what’s good and what’s not. Then check out my hand-picked list of Apple Watch app recommendations to add new features and unlock useful tricks for your new Apple Watch:

Dark Sky ($3.99)

Apple’s Weather app is nice for checking the forecast, but Dark Sky provides super useful hyper local precipitation alerts. These are essential if you’re looking to avoid a downpour or waiting out a quick shower.

Dark Sky

Calcbot ($1.99 in-app purchase)

Let Calcbot add a calculator to your Apple Watch, then split the tip the next time you dine out or just crunch some quick numbers.


Fantastical ($2.99)

Fantastical is a more streamlined calendar than Apple’s, plus it’s the only way to add iCloud Reminders from your iPhone to your Apple Watch. You can even see scheduled Reminders from your watch face.


Shazam (Free)

No need to pull out your iPhone when you want to find out what song that is playing around you. Launch Shazam on Apple Watch and watch the lyrics play across the screen in sync with the music.


Overcast (Free)

Apple doesn’t have its own Podcasts app for Apple Watch yet, but the free Overcast podcast player is plenty capable. You can’t play podcasts directly on Apple Watch, but you can control what plays on your iPhone right from your wrist. You also get access to effect controls for Smart Speed and Voice Boost features not available in Apple’s app. Great for keeping up with the 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast.


Spark (Free)

Spark is a very good alternative email app, and it has a few more bells and whistles than Apple’s Mail app on Apple Watch.


Social Apps


Some of my favorite essential apps for checking in and staying in the loop are social apps. Twitter’s app lets you peek at your timeline and check trending news, and Tweetbot or Twitterrific let you see your mentions and other activity.

Instagram lets you see recent posts and activity and there’s something about tiny square photos that just works. Pro tip: turn on alerts for your favorite people to see when they post something new.

Facebook Messenger lets you reply to messages with send audio clips, stickers, your location, and dictation. Plus there’s Skype if you chat there as well. 

News Apps


Apple Watch is also excellent at sending breaking news alerts and popular stories as they’re trending. I use Nuzzel to get alerts for popular stories people are sharing on Twitter. Instapaper lets you control your iPhone and let it read stories from your queue to you. CNN, NYTimes, Buzzfeed News, and Breaking News are all excellent at sending major developing story alerts to Apple Watch. Don’t forget alerts from our 9to5Mac app for iPhone too.

More Apps


Looking for a few more picks? Square Cash lets you send and receive money from Apple Watch. The best notification is receiving cash, trust me. Time to spend that money? eBay has an excellent Apple Watch app that makes bidding and keeping up with auctions super convenient.

Deliveries app makes tracking shipments very easy. Finally, if you’re into Apple’s HomeKit setup for controlling appliances with Siri, you need the Home app to add a face to Siri and make commands a tap away when voice commands aren’t convenient.

Have your own Apple Watch app recommendations? Let us know in the comments and enjoy your new Apple Watch!

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About the Author


Zac covers Apple news, hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast, and created