The 12 Best Apple Watch Apps of 2020

Make your life easier, more productive, and even healthier

The Apple Watch brings your phone's functionality to your wrist. Answer texts, take calls, and change the song you're listening to without ever touching your phone. Now, the burgeoning Apple Watch app marketplace is boosting the device's usefulness and functionality to new levels. Here are our picks for the 12 best Apple Watch apps that will make your life easier, more fun, and even healthier.

If you don't have an Apple Watch yet, check out our picks for the best iOS apps of 2020.

01
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Best for Sleep Tracking: Pillow

Pillow tracks how deeply and how long you sleep.
What We Like
  • Automatic sleep tracking.

  • Analyzes sleep patterns and heart rate.

  • Works with Apple Health's sleep category.

  • Select your own wake-up sounds.

What We Don't Like
  • You'll need to update to the premium version for advanced features.

Pillow is more than a sleep tracker. The app monitors your heart rate and movement to wake you when you're in the lightest stage of sleep, which results in far less morning grogginess.

The app's audio recording features let you listen to yourself snore or talk during your sleep, which can be helpful when diagnosing sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. Install Pillow on your iPhone, and it will automatically track your sleep through your Apple Watch, integrating sleep information with Apple's Health app.

Download and use Pillow for free, but you'll need to upgrade to its premium version ($4.99 per month or $27.49 yearly) to unlock advanced features, including personalized sleep tips, heart rate analysis, and wakeup melodies from your iTunes library.

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02
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Best for Weather: NOAA Radar Pro

NOAA Radar Pro is the best option for a weather app on the Apple Watch.
What We Like
  • Real-time weather tracking.

  • Monitor multiple locations at once.

  • Rain and snow maps give detailed information.

  • Get pressure, wind speed, and visibility details.

What We Don't Like
  • This app costs $4.99.

When you're tracking inclement weather, you don't want to deal with 15-minute update intervals, which is how many other weather apps are set up. NOAA Radar Pro provides you with real-time updates and a satellite overlay that displays current precipitation, cloud cover, and more.

Set up multiple locations to monitor and receive notifications about changing weather conditions near your home or the homes of loved ones. The app is easy to set up and use. While it's not free, its $4.99 price tag may be worth it for its array of features and functionality.

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03
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Best for Music Identification: Shazam

If you need to identify a song on the go, just Shazam it.
What We Like
  • Intuitive interface.

  • Keeps a list of all searches.

  • Add a song to Apple Music or Spotify.

  • Share songs on social media.

What We Don't Like
  • Sometimes slow to identify music.

  • Identification can be wrong if you're too far from the speaker.

The Apple Watch takes Shazam's usefulness to new heights, eliminating the need for pulling out your phone to try to identify a song. Just launch Shazam and direct your Apple Watch to the source of the music, and you'll get your answer in seconds.

When Shazam identifies a song, you have the option of adding it to your library or launching it in Spotify or Apple Music. Use Shazam offline if you're away from an internet connection, and turn on Auto Shazam to keep identifying songs even when you're out of the app. Shazam is entirely free to download and use.

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04
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Best Calculator App: CALC Smart

CALC Smart is a useful, powerful calculator on the go.
What We Like
  • Share your calculations.

  • Intuitive and powerful user interface.

  • Includes a currency converter.

  • Saves all your previous calculations.

What We Don't Like
  • It's not free, but $1.99 is very reasonable.

When it comes to watch-based calculators, CALC Smart is one of the best options out there. Use CALC Smart on your Apple Watch, and then open the app on your phone to find your most recent calculations saved for review. Expand the calculator widget, search previous calculations, use a tip calculator, convert currency, and much more. While CALC Smart is great for students, it also shines in its day-to-day life functionality.

CALC Smart costs only $1.99 and has no in-app purchases.

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05
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Best Meditation App: Headspace

Headspace lets you create a moment of calm in a hectic day.
What We Like
  • Great way to get started with meditation.

  • Allows for quick, brief sessions whenever you have downtime.

  • If you're unemployed, the company offers a free year's subscription.

What We Don't Like
  • You'll need a paid subscription to unlock advanced features.

If you want to keep your blood pressure low and improve your mood throughout the day, Headspace is an essential tool. This guided meditation app is helpful for busy professionals, parents, young adults, or anyone caught up in the hectic reality of modern life.

Sync your AirPods to your Apple Watch, open the app, and choose from hundreds of guided meditations. Session times vary, and there are two- and three-minute meditations for especially hectic days.

Even if you're skeptical about the metaphysical side of meditation, there are scientifically proven benefits to breathing control. Even taking a few minutes out of a busy day to focus on breathing can help improve your mood. 

The app is free to download, but you'll need to upgrade ($12.99 monthly or $69.99 yearly) to unlock advanced features.

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06
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Best Nutrition Tracker: Lifesum

Lifesum is a great way to keep track of your caloric intake throughout the day.
What We Like
  • Great for tracking water consumption.

  • Quick and easy to use.

  • Track calories and macros.

  • Covers keto, fasting, vegan, and other diets.

What We Don't Like
  • Database is lacking compared to similar apps.

  • The app can be buggy and glitchy at times.

  • No quick-add option for calories or macros on the Apple Watch.

Tracking what you eat is one of the most important elements of losing weight and improving your fitness, and Lifesum makes the process easy. Scan barcodes or snap photos to instantly add meals to your daily record. Enter your daily food and water intake to see your current nutritional stats. Then, view your progress throughout the day on your Watch.

Lifesum is free to download and use but requires a paid subscription for recipes, specialized diets, and other features. Prices range from $21.99 for three months to $44.99 for a year.

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07
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Best for Password Management: 1Password

1Password is an easy way to manage your various passwords.
What We Like
  • Easy to use with a clean, streamlined interface.

  • Two-factor authentication included by default.

  • Add custom fields for URLs, security questions, and more.

What We Don't Like
  • You'll need to upgrade to a paid subscription after a 30-day free trial.

We all know our passwords should be complex, hard to crack, and changed frequently, and we should use different passwords for all our accounts, but it's hard to do. 1Password makes it easy, generating strong custom passwords and storing them all. All you need to remember is one master password for the app.

1Password on the Apple Watch is particularly handy, helping you access accounts when you're on-the-go or on an unfamiliar computer. Just sync your Watch to the computer and log into any of your accounts after you verify your identity.

Download and use 1Password for free for a 30-day trial, then upgrade to a subscription for $3.99 per month or $35.99 per year.

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08
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Best for Travel: Find Near Me

Find Near Me helps you navigate a new city like a local.
What We Like
  • Works like a virtual tour guide.

  • Great for finding places in a pinch.

  • Automatically finds and plots your location.

  • Customize with your own search terms.

What We Don't Like
  • May not recommend smaller, lesser-known businesses.

  • Free version has ads.

The Find Near Me app is particularly useful as an Apple Watch app, helping you find locations easily as you're traveling. The app searches for locations around you based on a set of categories. Search for restaurants, bars, stores, coffee shops, museums, and more, or look for something specific, such as a cheeseburger or ice cream. Find destinations you wouldn't have found on your own, and save your search terms for future use.

The app is free to use and download, but pay $2.99 to upgrade to an ad-free experience.

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09
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Best for Sports: ESPN

The ESPN Apple Watch app gives you information on your favorite teams with just a glance.
What We Like
  • Organize your favorite teams to see them first.

  • At-a-glance information about the most important games of the day.

  • See news, scores, and video highlights.

What We Don't Like
  • You can't stream games to the Apple Watch app, although you can with the iPhone app.

The ESPN Apple Watch app lets you track your favorite teams with just a glance at your wrist. Access sports news, scores, and video highlights from the worlds of football, baseball, soccer, basketball, and more. Set up notifications for your favorite teams, so you always know about trades and other breaking news. Check out articles, live scores, and even fantasy league updates.

The app is free to download and use, but if you subscribe to ESPN+ for $4.99 per month, you'll have access to streaming sports. While streaming isn't supported on the Apple Watch, you can watch on your phone or another device.

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10
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Best for Navigation: Apple Maps

Apple Maps is the go-to GPS app for your Apple Watch.
What We Like
  • Maps are clear and easy to read while on the go.

  • Real-time traffic data.

  • The Apple Watch app is great for navigating through cities on foot.

  • Make restaurant reservations.

What We Don't Like
  • Traffic data can sometimes be slow to update.

If you're part of the Apple ecosystem, Apple Maps is likely your go-to resource for getting from place to place. The Apple Watch app continues Apple Map's tradition of clear interfaces and real-time information. It's particularly handy for navigating through cities on foot, on a bike, or with public transportation.

Real-time traffic information alerts you to accidents and obstacles, so you can find an alternate route. You can even explore a new city before you get there with the Apple Maps Look Around tool.

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11
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Best for Selfies: Camera Remote

Camera Remote lets you activate your iPhone camera from afar.
What We Like
  • Allows use of higher-quality rear iPhone camera at a distance.

  • Functions as a viewfinder.

What We Don't Like
  • The app can be complicated to set up.

  • View isn't always clear on the Apple Watch screen.

If you want to grab a timelapse or a photo in less-than-ideal light, any amount of motion can ruin the shot. That's where Camera Remote comes in. This app lets you activate your phone's camera from your Apple Watch.

Just set up the shot and step back. Press the camera button on the app, and you'll be able to take a perfect picture without any danger of motion blur or shaking. It's great for taking a group selfie from a distance or setting up a more complex shot.

The Camera Remote app is a default part of your Apple Watch, so you just need to set it up. No download is needed.

12
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Best for Payment: Apple Pay

Apple Pay is the best solution for shopping without pulling out your credit card.
What We Like
  • Easy to use.

  • Token system adds another layer of security.

  • Easy to set up if you're already using Apple Pay on your iPhone.

What We Don't Like
  • Initial setup can be complicated if you're not already using Apple Pay on another device.

Apple Pay is the go-to option for wireless touch payment on the iPhone, and its functionality extends to the Apple Watch. Apple Pay on your Apple Watch is easy to use and incredibly convenient for shopping in-person or online.

Apple Pay is already available on your Apple Watch and iPhone by default. There's no download needed.