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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.

Verdict: A Yes, Messages could be improved — I'd love to be able to send a photo, for example, since all my favorites are stored right on the watch. But between using my own canned replies, my uncanny ability to speak in emoji, and the solid Siri performance, I've found Messages one of the most useful apps on the Apple Watch.

4. Clock

The Apple Watch, after all, is a watch. So being able to tell the time is pretty crucial. I love the Mickey Mouse watch face with his perfect 60-beats-per-minute toe tap, as well as the animated watch face where differently colored butterflies or flowers emerge out of the darkness. (No complications on that watch face, though, so I have to swipe up to the glances to see my Activity progress or how much battery life is left.) Here's how to select and customize the watch faces.

I also love how Apple claims the watch as the most accurate timepiece ever, but still lets you set ahead a few minutes. (Up to 59 minutes, actually.) Because what's a watch you can't set ahead a few minutes? Even the cheapest digital watch you got from a cereal box can do that! Of course, on the Apple Watch, it's even better, because timed alerts and notifications (say, calendar events or the start of a baseball game) still come in at the precise right time. It's just the clock that's different.

Verdict: A Apple should consider allowing watch faces designed by third-party developers, but I think they will — or at least release more of their own in the meantime. But what's here now is great, and tweaking their colors and complications with a force-press is fun and easy.

5. Passbook and Apple Pay

I've used Passbook at Starbucks, and Apple Pay at Subway, Panera, Walgreens, and a vending machine. Each time it's worked flawlessly, even easier than using my phone. On my iPhone, Passbook is only speedy for me when the passes pop up on my lock screen when I'm in the vicinity of wherever I would use that pass. If I have to unlock my phone, then find and launch Passbook, half the time I get distracted along the way by a notification on my lock screen, or an irresistable app on my home screen (cough, cough, Instagram and Twitter). Even though I have to launch Passbook on the Apple Watch manually, getting there feels faster.

The barcode Passbook put on the Apple Watch's screen is impossibly tiny (and I have the 38mm watch), so I was worried I'd have to wave it in front of the barcode scanner forever to get it to read. Not so. And for Apple Pay, all I had to do was double-tap my watch's button to pull up my default Apple Pay card, and then hold the face of my watch right over the credit card terminal. Beep! Done.


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