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Every built-in Apple Watch app, ranked

Susie Ochs | May 11, 2015
The apps that come with your Apple Watch run the gamut from super useful to superficial, but no matter what you think of any of them, they're not going away. On your iPhone, you can just make a folder of the un-deletable Apple apps (looking at you, Compass and Tips), so at least they're out of sight and out of mind. But the Apple Watch doesn't support folders, and you can't hide or delete any of its 20 built-in apps.

The Music app's glance is a Now Playing screen that can control the music playing from the Music app — but that's not all. If your iPhone is playing audio through another app (like Spotify, Rdio, iHeartRadio, Instacast, whatever you use), the Now Playing glance can control that too, with buttons for play/pause, forward, back, and volume.

Verdict: A I love the Music app. Scrolling through even a huge list of songs with the Apple Watch is wonderfully fun, because all it takes is a twist of the Digital Crown. It's wonderfully tactile, reminding me of using a clickwheel iPod back in the day. In fact, I'm going to make it a point to keep more music stored locally on my iPhone (instead of streaming everything from Rdio or Soundcloud), just because navigating it with the Apple Watch is so much fun.

2. Activity

Activity is so important to the Apple Watch experience that its available as a "complication" on several watch faces — that way, all it takes is a flick of your wrist to see how much progress you've taken toward your goals. The Activity interface is so compelling that it's the first in my list of glances, and I find myself tapping into the full app from the glance not because I actually need more info, but because I'm just curious to see the full set of stats.

Activity shows you three concentric rings: the large red ring is for Move (a calorie-burn goal based on your general activity level, and easily adjusted with a force touch), a medium green ring for Exercise (30 minutes per day), and a small blue ring for Stand (standing up and moving around for at least one minute per hour, 12 hours out of the day). In the glance, that's all you see, but tapping into the full app also includes separate screens for each metric, and you can swipe between them, plus scroll down to see a graph showing what times of the day you moved, exercised, or stood.

The watch will prompt you to get up and move around at 50 minutes past each hour, if you didn't already log at least a minute of activity in the hour so far. Unfortunately, I do get prompts to get up and move when I can't, like when I'm commuting by bus — this is a little frustrating since the iPhone's sensors can tell if I'm traveling in a vehicle. I'd love a tie-in to my calendar too. And just raising my adjustable desk from a sitting to a standing position isn't enough to convince the watch I'm standing — you really have to move around for it to tell.

 

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