Apple Watch 101 for the New Apple Watch Owner

Here's everything you need to know, from unboxing to using apps

Apple Watches displayed on table

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Getting a new Apple Watch can be an exciting experience. The Apple Watch can dramatically change how you stay fit, organized, and connected to the world around you. While the watch is exceptionally intuitive to use, it takes a bit of work to understand all its ins and outs.

On a basic level, tasks on the watch are done using one of four different ways: You can use the dial on the side of the Watch, interact with apps and more on the touchscreen, talk to the watch using your voice, or control some of its functions my simply shaking your wrist.

If you’re not quite sure where to start (it can be overwhelming), we’ve got you covered. Below are a number of step-by-step guides that will help you do everything from pair your brand new Apple Watch with your phone to change watch faces and use the wearable to help you get fit.

How to Pair Your Apple Watch With Your iPhone

The first step in using your Apple Watch is getting it connected to your iPhone. The Apple Watch pairs with your iPhone using Bluetooth, which means you’ll need to turn that function on your iPhone on (and leave it on) in order for it to work. Once connected, you’ll use the Apple Watch app on your iPhone to communicate with your Apple Watch. With that app you can customize what sorts of notifications you see on the Apple Watch face, where your apps show up on your Apple Watch (and which ones do), and even what sorts of preset messages you’ll have available on your Apple Watch when you want to respond to texts from your wrist.

How to Charge Your Apple Watch

Qi charging mat with Apple Watch and iPhone 8

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The Apple Watch charges using a unique charging cable that came in the box. One end of the cable plugs into the USB port on your computer or your wall. The other side is a small circle that attaches itself to the back of your Apple Watch using magnets.  Beyond the included charging cable, a number of third parties have released charging options for the Apple Watch (all still using that same cable in some form), and Apple itself started selling a charging dock, which gives the Apple Watch a little more surface area to rest on while it’s powering up.

How to Change Your Apple Watch Face

Four Apple Watch models, with different watch face designs

Apple Inc.

The Apple Watch comes preloaded with tons of different watch faces. There’s everything from Mickey Mouse to information-heavy faces to choose from, and changing your watch face is so easy you could literally do it a few times a day to match your mood, wardrobe, or taste for the day. This article gives you the rundown on exactly how to change the face on your Apple Watch. Trust us, it’s easy. 

How to Make and Receive Calls With Your Apple Watch

Apple Watch on wrist receiving a phone call

Apple, inc.

Your Apple Watch can make phone calls just like your iPhone. The speaker isn’t super strong, so it’s not something you want to use all the time. Still, talking into your watch has a certain Dick Tracy feel to it, and can be a fun way to use your Apple Watch.

How to Transfer a Call to Your iPhone

Sometimes a call comes in on your Apple Watch, and you don’t want to answer it on your wrist, but don't have quite enough time to grab your iPhone. This feature will allow you to grab a call on your Apple Watch (so you don’t miss it), and then transfer the call to your iPhone so you can actually chat with whoever has contacted you.

How to Use Apple Pay With the Apple Watch

Woman Paying using Apple Watch and Electronic Reader

 Onfokus / Getty Images

Did you know you can buy things with your Apple Watch? The Apple Watch has Apple Pay capabilities just like your iPhone. That means that when you’re out and about, you can tap to pay on some registers using your Apple Watch, with no need to ever pull your iPhone out of your purse or pocket. If you want to use your Apple Watch to buy things, you first need to set the feature up. 

How to Send Your Heartbeat and Drawings With the Apple Watch

If you have a friend that also owns an Apple Watch, then it can be a lot of fun to send them drawings or your heartbeat through the device. It can be a little awkward to figure out how to use this feature on the watch, but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy.

How to Use Maps on the Apple Watch

Apple Maps on an Apple Watch

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Maps is one of the greatest features of the Apple Watch. With Apple’s built-in option, or Google Maps if you prefer, you can get turn-by-turn directions to your destination. I find these exceptionally helpful when I’m traveling somewhere I haven’t been before. With the Apple Watch, I can see on my wrist where I need to turn, and I don’t have to have my iPhone out and visible in an unfamiliar location.

How to Update Your Apple Watch's Software

From time to time, Apple puts out software updates for the Apple Watch. Some of those updates are small and are meant to patch small bugs or security issues. Other updates are big and involve a complete overhaul of the Apple Watch’s operating system. Regardless of whether an update is big or small, you’ll want to make sure you get it for your Apple Watch when it becomes available.

How to Change Your Apple Watch Band

One of the coolest features of the Apple Watch is the ability to change up how it looks. While you’re stuck (for the most part) with the Apple Watch body color you’ve chosen, there are seemingly endless possibilities when it comes to the Apple Watch band you use with the device. Apple has a number of different standard Apple Watch band options ranging from the Sports bands perfect for sweaty encounters at the gym or dips in the pool ​to leather and Milanese loop options that can dress your Apple Watch up for a trip to the office or a night out on the town. Changing your Apple Watch band out is exceptionally easy to do.

How the Apple Watch Monitors Your Heart Rate

Apple Watch heart rate monitoring

Apple, inc.

The Apple Watch monitors your heart rate while you’re wearing it. The way it does that is using a green light on the back of the device, similar to how fitness bands like FitBit handle the same task. Keeping track of your heart rate during the day is tough work.

Get Some Apple Watch Apps

Apps are one of the things that can make your Apple Watch truly yours. There are apps out there for almost anything you can think of. Developers have created apps that will help you reach your fitness goals, stay connected with loved ones…there’s even an Uber app for the Apple Watch that you can use to hail a car. You can add them to your Apple Watch by simply downloading them onto your iPhone and then enabling the Apple Watch version within the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.

How to Control Your Car With Your Apple Watch

Woman wearing Apple Watch while driving a car

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While it doesn’t quite work with all the cars out there, depending on what you drive, you might be able to use your Apple Watch to power your car. Cool, right? Tesla, BMW, Hyundai, and Volvo all offer the option to control some aspect of a few of their vehicles using an Apple Watch app.

Use Your Apple Watch to Find Your iPhone

It happens to all of us. You're running around the house getting ready when suddenly you discover you have no idea where you put your iPhone. One easy way to find it is to use the Apple Watch. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring up the Control Center. Look for the word Connected (at the top of the screen) to make sure your iPhone is connected. At the bottom of that page, you'll see an image of an iPhone with some parenthesis beside it. Tap on that and your iPhone will gently ding, helping you discover exactly where it might be in your home (or pocket).

That's it! If you master all of these different aspects of the Apple Watch then you'll be able to use your brand new Apple Watch to its full potential.