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The best Apple Watch apps 2021

Best Apple Watch apps
(Image credit: Citymapper)

The best Apple Watch apps may cost a few dollars, but they're a great investment that truly allow you to make the most of your device. 

Whether you want to find your way around town, stick to good habits or get a better night's sleep, these apps all harness the power of your Apple Watch, to do things you simply can't replicate on a phone or laptop. 

To help you find the right apps for you, this article brings together the very best Apple Watch apps available today for fitness, travel, productivity and more.  

Some of them don't work on older hardware, though. So we've provided details of the exact iOS and watchOS versions you need to run them. If that prompts you to upgrade your watch, then check our roundup of the best Apple Watch deals first. 

Finally, if you're on the hunt for apps in general, you also might enjoy our lists of the best iPad apps or our photo apps roundup.

The best Apple Watch apps in 2021

Citymapper interface on two Apple Watch screens

(Image credit: Citymapper)

01. Citymapper

The best Apple Watch app for maps

Specifications
Price: Free
iOS version: 10.3+
watchOS version: 3.0+
Reasons to buy
+Functions beautifully+Buzz prompts+Free app
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't work in all cities

Citymapper is the best free Apple Watch app for maps. As creatives, we all have plenty of meetings with clients, and it’s essential to avoid arriving late. That’s why Citymapper’s Watch app is so good, as it's brilliantly designed to ensure you make it to your destination.

The focus is on giving you information exactly when you need it: how many stops until you need to leave the bus, or how far to walk to your destination, for example. You’ll get buzzes on your wrist telling you when to leave and which train to catch, plus complications on the Apple Watch face. Right now, it works in 106 cities, all totally for free.

Spotify interface on two Apple Watches

(Image credit: Spotify)

02. Spotify

The best Apple Watch app for music

Specifications
Price: Free / subscription
iOS version: 12.0+
watchOS version: 6.0+ (7.1+ recommended)
Reasons to buy
+Stream directly to Apple Watch+Download music to Apple Watch+Control other devices
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't work on Apple Watch 1 or 2

Most Apple Watch apps work in conjunction with your iPhone. But since November 2020, Spotify's app has enabled you to stream music and podcasts directly to its Apple Watch app, no iPhone required. You also can use it to control your music and podcasts on other devices.

Since May 2021, you've also been able to download your tracks, playlists and podcasts onto your Apple Watch. However, to do so (just as on desktop and phone), you'll need to take out a subscription. This will also allow you to enjoy ad-free music and get the best sound quality.

Fantastical interface

(Image credit: Fantastical)

03. Fantastical

The best Apple Watch app for calendar reminders

Specifications
Price: $4.99 / £4.99 per month
iOS version: 13.2+
watchOS version: 6.0+
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Customisable+Reacts to voice
Reasons to avoid
-Subscription required

Fantastical is already one of the best calendar and reminder apps on Mac and iPhone, so it’s no surprise that it's also our best Apple Watch app for organisation and productivity. It’s everything you need to keep your day organised when you’re on the go, combining powerful features with an easy-to-use interface.

A good example is its set of complications. You can choose between various details to show on your Apple Watch face, in both large and small sizes. That way you see only what you need to without distractions. It understands natural language voice commands (in six different tongues), and uses helpful colour coding as a visual aid. Also, when you buy a subscription to Fantastical, you get the contact act Cardhop thrown in to the bargain, too.

Spark interface on two Apple Watch screens

(Image credit: Spark)

04. Spark

The best Apple Watch app for email

Specifications
Price: Free with in-app purchases
iOS version: 11.0+
WatchOS version: 4.0+
Reasons to buy
+Smart inbox sorting+Big buttons+Snooze messages
Reasons to avoid
-Advanced features must be paid for

We all use email, but often it’s a painful experience. Not so with Spark, our best Apple Watch app for email, which uses smart inbox sorting to make sure your most important messages aren't lost in the scrum. 

The app’s home screen features big buttons for each of these categories so you can easily bypass everything you don’t need to see. There are Messages-style quick replies, and you can ‘snooze’ a message so you get reminded of it when you’re back at your desk. It’s clear from these features and more that every element of Spark is designed for how people actually use the Apple Watch.

Streaks interface on two Apple Watch screens

(Image credit: Streaks)

05. Streaks

The best Apple Watch app for health and fitness

Specifications
Price: $4.99 / £4.99
iOS version: 12.0+
watchOS version: 3.0+
Reasons to buy
+Award-winning+Track your progress+Syncs to iPhone app
Reasons to avoid
-Not free

Streaks is the best Apple Watch app for health and fitness for a reason. It's all about forming lasting, positive habits that can improve your life. It’ll help you track anything from eating healthier food to cutting down on smoking, and is particularly useful if you want to improve your fitness. It’s so effective that it’s been recognised with an Apple Design Award – high praise indeed.

With simple iconography and handy progress bars, the Streaks Apple Watch app clearly displays your progress so you know how far along your routine you are. You can mark your progress as you go, and everything syncs up with Apple’s Health app on your iPhone.

Start with Yoga app interface on two Apple Watch screens

(Image credit: Start with Yoga)

06. Start with Yoga

The best Apple Watch app for yoga

Specifications
Price: $2.99 / £2.99
iOS version: 12.2+
watchOS version: 4.0+
Reasons to buy
+Times your positions+Analyses your data +Low price
Reasons to avoid
-Not for advanced practitioners

Want to get started with yoga? There are loads of apps for that, but they all require you to look at your phone, which is not particularly helpful when you're trying to get all Zen-like and relaxed. Start with Yoga, however, works with the Apple Watch too. So once you've created your routine, your watch can tell you – for example – to hold a position for a certain time, and analyse your performance to help you improve. 

You can use the app to build routines from 75 positions or use one of the 17 preset routines. That might not be sophisticated enough for yoga veterans, but for the beginners it's aimed at, that should be more than enough.

Autosleep interface on two Apple Watch screens

(Image credit: Autosleep)

07. AutoSleep

The best Apple Watch app for sleep

Specifications
Price: $3.99 / £3.99
iOS version: 11.0+
watchOS version: 6.0+
Reasons to buy
+Analyses sleep quality+Provides useful stats+Familiar interface
Reasons to avoid
-Not free

If you suspect you’re not sleeping properly after a hard day’s work, the best Apple Watch app for sleep, AutoSleep, could help. Wear your Watch to bed and the app can analyse your sleep quality, including the amount of time you slept, your restlessness, your heart rate and your time awake during the day.

It’s designed to look like an Apple app, and if you’re used to tracking your fitness with Apple’s ring system then AutoSleep will feel instantly familiar. Pair it with your iPhone and you get a Today view to display all your metrics in one place, with sections dedicated to calculating your daily readiness, latest bedtime, whether you’re under- or oversleeping, plus much more.

Overcast interface on two Apple Watch screens

(Image credit: Overcast)

08. Overcast

The best Apple Watch app for podcasts

Specifications
Price: Free with in-app purchases
iOS version: 13.4+
watchOS version: 7+
Reasons to buy
+Smooth experience+Unobtrusive design+Clever features
Reasons to avoid
-Won't work on Apple Watch 1 or 2

The Apple Watch is at its best when it lets you perform quick tasks that don’t interrupt your workflow. Overcast is a great example of that. It's our best Apple Watch app for podcasts as it’s a well-thought-out app with a focus on unobtrusive design.

You can adjust podcast volume using the Digital Crown (genius!), and swipe to quickly start a new podcast episode. The app features clever features to equalise volume levels and cut out dead air, and it’s beautifully designed both on your wrist and your phone.

Carrot Weather interface on two Apple Watch screens

(Image credit: Carrot Weather)

09. Carrot Weather

The best Apple Watch app for weather

Specifications
Price: $4.99 / £4.99 subscription
iOS version: 13.0+
watchOS version: 4.0+
Reasons to buy
+Fun and witty+Clever colour coding+Accurate data
Reasons to avoid
-Requires subscription

Checking the weather on the way to the office isn’t often an hilarious experience, but that’s exactly what you get with the best Apple Watch app for the weather,  Carrot Weather. It’s infused with a snarky, witty AI that revels in your misfortune as a blizzard bears down on your humble abode.

It’s not just funny, though. Carrot Weather uses Dark Sky’s accurate data, and employs some clever design and colour coding to give you important info at a glance. There are numerous complications, notifications, weather maps and even a Siri watch face integration. Note that the app is free to download on a trial basis, but requires a subscription in the longer term.

Hole 19 interface on two Apple Watch screens

(Image credit: Stat Track)

10. Hole19

The best Apple Watch app for golf

Specifications
Price: Free with in-app purchases
iOS version: 12.0+
watchOS version: 4.0+
Reasons to buy
+Analyses your game+Useful data+Club recommendations
Reasons to avoid
-Best features require payment

Did you know that there was a best Apple Watch app for golf? Apple Watch is jam-packed with sensors, making it the perfect companion to analyse your golfing game on your days off. Add in Hole19 and you get all the data you need to improve your play and increase your handicap.

The free version lets you track your score, see how far it is to the hole, and understand your game with stats on your accuracy, putting and more. Opt for the premium membership and you get club recommendations, shot distance tracking and much more, all without taking your phone out of your pocket.

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Alex is a freelance tech journalist and writes for MacFormat, TechRadar and Maximum PC.