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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.

When you start a new workout, you can choose a goal based on calorie burn elapsed time, distance (for outdoor workouts), or just go for it in open-ended mode and see how long you can last. You get a buzz as you get closer to your goal, and it's easy to glance down at your wrist and see your progress at any time. (Tap the time at the top-right of the screen to toggle between the time of day and how long you've been working out.) Force-touch the screen to pause or end your workout, and be sure to scroll down the display of stats and press Save to log it in your Health database.

We've got a deeper dive into both the Activity and Workout apps, and we're planning a head-to-head showdown of its heart rate accuracy versus a dedicated chest strap.

Verdict: A I like how the Workout app won't let me cheat — I recently logged 40 minutes on a stationary bike, but slacked off for the first 15 before getting serious for the last 25. The Apple Watch kept me honest, only giving me Exercise minutes in the Activity app for the minutes I was really, truly working out.

8. Remote

The Apple Watch is a great remote control since it's always strapped to your wrist, and the Remote app lets you command your Apple TV or the iTunes library on your Mac. Adding the Apple TV was relatively simple: Using another remote, I navigated the Apple TV to Settings > General > Remote. Then I tapped "Add New" in the Remote app on the watch, which gave me a four-digit code, and made an option pop up on the TV screen that said "Susie's Apple Watch." Select that, enter the code, and it worked just fine.

Navigating the Apple TV's menu is easy with swipes and taps, and the Menu and Play/Pause buttons on the bottom look tiny, but I found them easy to hit. The only drawback is that if you have to enter text (when searching, or logging into a service), you have to select one letter at a time. So in those cases it would be faster to use the Remote app on your iPhone, since that provides a software keyboard.

I did have more trouble setting up Remote to control my Mac's iTunes library. The watch app gives you a four-digit code, and you have to click an Apple Watch icon in your iTunes library's tab bar to enter the code. But the icon wasn't showing up on my Mac. I wound up restarting iTunes, the Mac, and even the Apple Watch before it finally appeared. Once set up, the Remote app on the watch let me control playback, but in a pretty bare-bones way: I have to pick out music on the Mac and start it playing, and then all I can do from the phone is pause/play, go back or forward by one track, adjust the volume, and force-touch to select a different AirPlay speaker. The Music app for the Apple Watch actually lets you browse the artists, songs, and playlists stored on your watch or your phone, so this feels a little hobbled in comparison, but most people probably have a lot more music in iTunes on a Mac than they do in Music on an iPhone, so maybe navigating a big collection via the Remote app would feel unwieldy.

 

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