The Apple Watch has been slow to snare consumers' hearts and wallets, but the new Series 1 and Series 2 watches are much better equipped to launch and run third-party apps than the sluggish first generation devices. While we do hope that the improved processor inspires developers to better harness the full potential of these wearables, there are a few good app choices already out there. Let's take a look.
Parcel - Delivery Tracking
Even if you are no Luddite, there are times when screen-free is the way to be. Personally, freedom from constant messages and notifications is one of the biggest reasons why I would actually resist wearing an Apple Watch. That being said, if there was ever a time when I crave notifications, it's when I'm expecting a package, especially if a signature is required on delivery. And courier-operated notifications aren't always up to snuff.
Parcel is a great little app that puts-up-to-date tracking information at your wrist (or phone, tablet, or desktop). It's compatible with over 300 international couriers, so it's a one-stop-shop for checking the status on all your shipments.
Parcel is free to download, but a yearly subscription is required in order to receive push notifications, the app's crowning glory. The subscription also covers tracking more than three packages at once and web access.
Free, with optional US$2.99 annual subscription.
If you enjoy using the Apple Watch's haptic feedback alarm to wake you up, why not track your sleep patterns while you're at it? While rumors suggest that Apple is working toward including sleep-tracking features in its native Watch apps, and there is a new rudimentary sleep analysis feature called "Bedtime" in iOS 10, there's no telling when it will officially arrive on your wrist.
Sleep++ is the next best thing. It utilizes the watch's motion tracking capabilities to measure the duration, quality and restlessness of your sleep. A report is ready for you each morning when you wake up. Use the data to help you figure out which factors are affecting your sleep patterns, or to help make sure you're meeting all of your health and rest goals.
The only problem? It doesn't auto-detect sleep, meaning you need to tell the watch when you're going to bed and when you wake up. At least there is a trim feature to remove data you didn't mean to record.
Free, $1.99 in-app purchase removes advertisements.
HeartWatch Heart & Activity Monitor
HeartWatch takes data from Apple Watch's heart rate monitor and turns it into more actionable reports, which can be a pivotal tool for monitoring heart health. It tracks and graphs your heart rate through your daily activity, workouts and sleep, and presents it as charts or numerical statistics.
If anything, the immense flexibility in this app makes it a little complicated. You can view your data as at-a-glance "heart badges" that give an overview of your heart rate activity, take an in-depth look at your workouts, or opt for notifications should your heart rate become dangerously high or low. If you're motivated by digital encouragement, the "Timogotchi" feature lets you take care of a cartoon avatar by meeting your own activity goals.
This is yet another health-and-fitness app, but it's not your typical sterile data-driven experience that incentivizes you with badges and nags you with notifications. This app guides you through an equipment-free seven-minute strength workout with a kind of sharp, offbeat humor we haven't seen elsewhere in the App Store.
For example, you're not instructed to complete a push-up interval – those are referred to as "kowtows to Cthulu." If you opt to end your workout early, there's no "cancel" button. You actually have to respond to a prompt asking "Are you a quitter, meatbag?"
Needless to say, Carrot Fit is not for everyone, and unfortunately, the Apple Watch app is not standalone – you'll need to have it running on your nearby iPhone as well. Still, if you rely on your Apple Watch to make exercise more trackable and fun, this is an excellent addition.
There's not yet a Facebook app for the Apple Watch, Instagram is underwhelming because of the low-quality photo viewing experience, and Pokemon Go for Apple Watch is still forthcoming. So what is a dedicated time-waster to do? Try playing Lifeline 2, a text-based choose-your-own-adventure style game that doesn't require graphics capabilities, sound, or anything else your Apple Watch can't handle.
In this game, you'll communicate with the mystically-bound teenager Arika, and guide her through her quest. It's a little slow to start (the initial "getting to know you" process takes about 10 minutes) but the writing is good and the story is compelling. It's especially unique if you haven't played other Lifeline games already.