Best Apple Watch apps of 2015


Ready to set your wrist on fire? Download these hot, hot, hot Apple Watch apps now.
Ready to set your wrist on fire? Download these hot, hot, hot Apple Watch apps now.
Image: Stephen Smith/Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac's Best of 2015 While the Apple Watch is still waiting for its “killer app,” plenty of great apps already exist for the new wearable. They ease us through common tasks, add value to awesome iPhone apps, or delight us with subtle functions that we didn’t necessarily know we needed (but now practically can’t live without).

These apps might not be homicidal, but they make us want to strap on an Apple Watch each and every day. These are our favorite Apple Watch apps of 2015.

One quick note: Some of these apps are built-in, which reflects a few things: 1) The relative newness of the smartwatch as a platform, 2) the challenge of building smart apps for this new platform, and 3) the amount of thought Apple put into its first wearable. While Apple Watch’s inaugural year has been bumpy to say the least, these apps give us a real glimpse of the device’s promising future.

Native apps, like Dark Sky, take advantage of the new OS for Apple Watch.
Native apps, like Dark Sky, take advantage of the new OS for Apple Watch.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Dark Sky

We’ve consistently sung the praises of the Dark Sky, calling it the best weather app for iPhone, and it’s just as fantastic on Apple Watch. The subtle alerts that tell you about changing weather conditions will tune you in to drizzle like never before (at least if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area). An available complication lets you tap your watch face to get forecasts (for the next 24 hours or the next week). It’s straightforward and accurate — what more do you need from a weather app on your wrist? — Lewis Wallace

iTunes: Dark Sky ($3.99)

Apple Maps

For the first time ever, I’m relying on Apple Maps rather than Google Maps for directions, and it’s all because of the built-in Apple Watch app. Just tell it where you want to go, and you’ll get turn-by-turn directions for walking, driving or transit. The tiny map on your wrist is actually useful, but even more awesome is the way the Maps app taps into the Watch’s Taptic Engine to subtly tell you when it’s time to turn as you make your way to your destination. — Lewis Wallace

Lifeline… and Lifeline 2

These Apple Watch games use the limitations of Apple’s most personal device to create sci-fi and fantasy adventures that you live along with their protagonists in real time. Texting with an astronaut or a magically gifted young woman is so surprisingly engaging that you’ll find yourself wondering what they’re up to during the down times. If you’re looking for an engaging way to pass the time while you go about your daily routine, Lifeline… and Lifeline 2 are the perfect wrist-bound companions. — Rob LeFebvre

iTunes: Lifeline… (99 cents), Lifeline 2 ($2.99)

Runtastic Pro

I tend to stick to the Apple Watch’s built-in apps. But I’m a runner, and for my purposes, the Workout app is just so bad that I had to find an alternative. MapMyRun is great when you include the iPhone app and website, but its Watch app has not been updated for watchOS 2. Runtastic Pro, on the other hand, has. It combines heart-rate data from the Watch with GPS mapping from the iPhone, providing the best of both worlds. It’s my favorite watchOS 2 app. — Graham Bower

iTunes: Runtastic Pro ($4.99)

Wallet and Apple Pay

Another built-in app, Wallet streamlines certain tasks that just make sense to have ready at your wrist. Ready to hop a plane? Your boarding pass is right there (assuming you saved it to Wallet). Want to complete a purchase? Apple Pay is just a double-click away. — Lewis Wallace

Pretty pictures, right on your wrist.
Pretty pictures, right on your wrist.
Screenshots: Instagram


The Apple Watch app puts all those pretty pictures in your Instagram feed right on your wrist. The images look great on the tiny screen, and you just tap or swipe (your pick!) to see details about the shot and the shooter. — Lewis Wallace

iTunes: Instagram (free)

Find Near Me

Just like its name, Find Near Me is simple, straightforward and functional. Fire up this app to locate the nearest ATM, restaurant and the like, either picking from predefined categories or by telling Siri what you’re looking for. Select a destination, and handy directions (walking, driving or cycling) are just a Force Touch away. — Lewis Wallace

iTunes: Find Near Me (free)

Microsoft Translator

Just speak into your Apple Watch, and Microsoft’s slick translation app will blurt out your words in the language of your choice (dozens are available). You can also use the Apple Watch in conjunction with your iPhone to have a two-way conversation with another person, without the hassle of trying to share a screen. I haven’t tried Microsoft Translator in a foreign country, but tests with Spanish-speaking friends showed loads of promise. — Lewis Wallace

iTunes: Microsoft Translator (free)

Apple Watch could soon be logging new kinds of workouts.
The stock Workout app is strong.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac


I probably would have sold my Apple Watch months ago if it weren’t for the default Workout app. It’s pretty much the only watchOS app I use, and that only happens when I fight my laziness and bust out a 5-miler. Other workout apps have more impressive features than the Workout app, but Apple’s built-in offering gives me just what I need. I’m not trying to run a marathon with it, or compete on a leaderboard every day with other runners. It’s perfect if all you want to know is how far you’ve run, your pace, and whether your heart is about to explode. For the average runner, that’s really all you need. — Buster Hein


Ride-sharing gets even more ridiculously easy with Uber on your wrist. No more fumbling with your iPhone while you wait for a curbside pickup at the airport. — Lewis Wallace

iTunes: Uber (free)

Fantastical 2

Calendar app Fantastical 2 is … fantastic. I love it (and depend on it) on the iPhone, and the straightforward Apple Watch app is a worthy extension. You get the same crisp, color-coded calendar entries, and a quick Force Touch lets you add an event when you’re on the move. — Lewis Wallace

iTunes: Fantastical 2 ($2.99 on sale)

Apple Watch users can now watch Vines on their wrist.
Apple Watch is the perfect screen for short-form video.
Photo: Vine


I’ve never been a fan of Vine on my iPhone or Mac, but on the Apple Watch? Those snack-size videos just seem right, and it only gets better once you identify some cool content creators. — Lewis Wallace

iTunes: Vine (free)


Never miss an auction’s end again! Aside from letting you quickly check up on all your auction watching, buying and selling, eBay’s Apple Watch app also sends you notifications when the hammer is about to fall on that vintage Star Wars action figure you’ve been eyeing. — Lewis Wallace

iTunes: eBay (free)


Another stock app, Messages is simple and straightforward on Apple Watch — just like the way we like ’em. Having it handy (right by your hand, realy) makes it easy to receive and reply to your Messages lickety-split. — Lewis Wallace


We use Slack more than I care to admit here at Cult of Mac, and the Apple Watch app means I’m always connected to our newsroom’s virtual nerve center. Luckily, the app makers limit the Watch app to direct messages and mentions, so my wrist isn’t constantly on fire. It couldn’t be simpler to respond (via emoji, canned reply or voice) to those urgent work-related messages. — Lewis Wallace

iTunes: Slack (free)


With its diminutive screen, Apple Watch might as well have been made for Twitter’s 140-word missives. The Apple Watch app lets you quickly and easily compose tweets (by voice, naturally), and also serves up recent mini musings from people you’re following. What the lowdown on what’s blowing up the Twittersphere? Tap the Top Trends button and you’re instantly in the know. — Lewis Wallace

iTunes: Twitter (free)

Russ Bray Darts Scorer and Darts Checkout

Who needs chalk anyway? These darts apps will shake the dust off your game. Russ Bray Darts Scorer lets you … score darts matches on your wrist. You can play another darter (or practice against a computer) in various ’01 games, and your match will be called by outrageous darts ref Russ Bray. Just tap in your throws on your Apple Watch screen (Bray’s braying comes from your iPhone, not the Watch). If math isn’t your friend and you haven’t yet memorized your out chart, the insanely simple Darts Checkout tells you exactly what you need to throw to win. Having the magic numbers right on your wrist is far easier than squinting at the out chart tacked to the pub wall. Obviously these apps aren’t for everyone, but they are perfect examples of utilizing the Apple Watch in unexpected ways. — Lewis Wallace

iTunes: Russ Bray Darts Scorer ($3.99) and Darts Checkout (99 cents)

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  • TJ

    Carrot Weather is such a better Apple Watch App. The complication actually shows a picture of the weather condition instead of looking exactly like the stock weather complication. I still send Dark Sky Notifications to the Apple Watch though for hyper local alerts.