Apple Watch apps kinda suck, but Cupertino hopes you won’t notice

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watch bands march 21 apple event
Apple Watch apps were conspicuous in their absence at this week's Apple event.
Photo: Apple

At this week’s “Let us loop you in” keynote, Apple revealed a major shift in its smartwatch strategy. Tim Cook tried to dress it up by announcing new Apple Watch bands and a price drop, but the most significant aspect was what he did not say: There was no mention of third-party Watch apps.

After Monday’s keynote, Apple updated its website with a new marketing proposition that represents a tacit acknowledgment that, right now, Apple Watch is only good for three things: notifications, fitness and health.

What happened to the idea that there is an app for everything?

101 things to draw and send with your Apple Watch

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Learn to draw like Leonardo with Apple Watch Digital Touch Sketches
Learn to draw like Leonardo with Apple Watch Digital Touch sketches.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

The ability to send tiny finger drawings — or “Digital Touch sketches,” as Apple calls them — is probably the least-popular Apple Watch feature. Which is a shame, because once you get the hang of drawing them, they can be a lot of fun.

To help get you started, I’ve put together a compendium of 101 Digital Touch sketch ideas you can quickly and easily draw with your Apple Watch. I’ve sorted them by theme, and given them star ratings to indicate how difficult they are to draw. (Don’t miss the holiday section for some Easter greetings ideas.)

But first, a few tips on how to copy my drawings — and create your own — using your Apple Watch.

How to warm up and cool down with your Apple Watch

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Doing a warm-up before your workout and a cool-down afterwards can reduce your risk of injury
Warming up before your workout and cooling down afterward can reduce your risk of injury and improve your performance.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

When you start a workout, Apple Watch only gives you a three-second countdown. There’s no time for a warmup first. And when you’re done, the Workout app does not prompt you to cool down either.

That is very different from the treadmills and bikes you find in most gyms, which ease you gently into your workout and steadily lower your pace at the end.

Apple Watch may not (yet) support the warmup and cool-down phases of a workout, but that does not mean you should skip them. These Apple Watch fitness tips will help you get the most out of your workouts.

Will Fitbit’s ‘magic number’ really step up your fitness game?

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Where will Fitbit’s 10,000 steps a day lead you?
Where will Fitbit’s 10,000 steps a day lead you?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Fitbit reported its best-ever holiday sales this week, but investors are fretting because the wearable maker’s guidance for the current quarter is lower than expected. Some analysts are questioning whether Fitbit can hold its own against competition from Cupertino.

Apple Watch has proved to be a fantastic fitness tracker for many Cult of Mac readers. So I was curious to find out how Fitbit’s trackers compare. They may be cheaper than Apple Watch, but are they as effective at promoting healthy habits?

Apps vs. apparel: Can Strava compete with big sportswear brands?

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The last of the indie fitness apps: can Strava hold their own against the big brands?
The last of the indie fitness apps: Can Strava hold its own against the big brands?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Sports apparel makers clearly believe that fitness apps are an important part of their futures. Under Armour and Adidas have invested heavily in fitness apps, and Runkeeper’s recent acquisition by ASICS is just the latest in a long series of app acquisitions by apparel makers.

These companies have big brands and deep pockets. Can an indie developer realistically compete with all that? Gareth Nettleton, VP of marketing for indie fitness app Strava, tells me that like any serious athlete, his hard-charging company thrives on competition.