There are plenty of things that you can do with the Apple Watch. In this article, you can go through the list of essential Apple Watch features, tips, tricks and hacks. Whether you are new to the world of Apple Watch or have upgraded to a newer model, these 52 tips will help you get the most out of your smartwatch.
The Watch OS 6 is the latest smartwatch operating system from Apple and this software is one of the comprehensive in the market. This watch offers a great amount of opportunity for customisation. Apple Watch Series 5 and the Series 3 are discussed here to understand the changes introduced through the most recent updates.
The key features of Apple Watch:
- Receive messages and notifications on your wrist
- Fitness tracking
- Track your workouts
- Heart rate monitor
- Fall detection
- Detect cardiac arrhythmia
- ECG readings(available only in Series 4 and 5)
- GPS tracking of workouts
- LTE version of Apple Watch with a data plan which allows you to make calls and receive messages away from your phone
- Turn-by-turn navigation
- Siri command on alarms, timers, reminders
- Display tickets and boarding passes
- Of course, it can tell time as well
Check out our step by step guide on the first things to do with your Apple Watch.
The Apple Watch has not made available its own built-in sleep tracker. But it is assumed that a sleep tracker from Apple is on the way. This means that for the time being, the Apple Watch cannot quite match with Fitbit, Garmin and other smartwatches in offering the complete fitness tracking experience. But there are a few third-party apps that can give good results in an Apple Watch.
2. Organise and use the app dock
Apple had ditched glances way back in watchOS3. All the currently open apps can now be viewed by touching the button at the side of the watch. This dock must absolutely be used, stacking it with the apps that you use the most.
The apps that you use the most will be prioritised by the watch and the access to these apps thus become easier. The dock can be customized in your companion Watch app. It can be set such that the most recently used apps can be pulled in. It will work a bit like multitasking on the iPhone.
The other option is to turn it into a proper dock with your favourite apps. If this is chosen, you can fix the apps that will be available. You can customise the dock on the Watch itself by pressing the side button, 3D touching an app and choosing “Keep in Dock”.
3. Unlock your Mac with your watch
With your Apple Watch, you can access your Mac without having to type in a password, provided you have a mid-2013 or a newer model of Mac that runs on macOS Sierra 10.12 or any later versions.
To pair your Apple Watch and Mac, the two devices should be signed into the same iCloud account. Once this is done, choose System Preferences in your Mac and then choose the Security and Privacy option. Within this option, click on the General tab, where you can set the feature that allows Apple Watch to unlock your Mac.
You have to make sure the two-factor authentication is enabled as well on your Mac. Choose the options — System Preferences> iCloud > Account Details > Security to set it.
4.Latest software updates
To get the best and most out of your Apple Watch, it should be regularly updated to the latest version of the OS. This is an easy task and you will be notified with a pop-up on your iOS device each time there is an update available. You can update the software by going to the My Watch tab in the Watch app and selecting the option, General, in which the software update option will be available. Follow these instructions and make sure the Apple Watch is charged properly.
5. Add music to your watch
With cellular support available in the Apple Watch, Apple Music streaming comes directly to the watch. You can still add MP3s and pair it with Airpods for music. The music can be accessed in the Music section in the companion Watch app. Here you have the option to sync the music and that will always be updated on your watch while charging.
You also have the option of adding music to this automatically synced list. Apple has made this process much easier than it was before. That is, previously you had to create a playlist before syncing over any music to your watch. You are free from that labour now. What you need now is a good pair of Bluetooth headphones to listen to the music.
If there are no Bluetooth Headphones connected when you play music, a pop-up box will appear on the watch, asking you to sync a headphone. In case you have not subscribed to Apple Music, there is the Apple Watch Spotify app that you can make use of. You can add to and play music on your Spotify library from the app.
6. Clear the notifications
The notifications are accessed in chronological order by swiping down from the top of your screen. If you are overloaded with notifications, swipe the notifications down and wipe them off the screen. Once displayed, all the notifications can be removed by long-pressing on the screen and then tapping on the Clear All option.
If you want to know more about how to manage your notifications, you can go through the full guide on how to clear all notifications which also include tips on erasing texts and turning them off altogether.
7. Set an alarm or timer
Setting an alarm on an Apple Watch is not a straightforward task. You will have to set up the alarm setting by going into the Alarms app on the watch itself and fiddle with the Digital crown a bit, which is not quite easy. Timers, on the other hand, are quite easy to set. All it takes is to go into the Timers app and set the time you want to track, no matter what event you want to clock.
8. Access Siri on your Apple Watch
Apple has made many improvements to Siri in Watch OS 5 and most of it are available in the Siri watch face as well. Putting Machine Learning into action, Siri will now be able to give more personalised information such as showing the heart rate after a workout or sports score when your favourite team is playing.
Accessing Siri and chatting with the assistant has also improved a great deal. You do not have to activate Siri with “Hey Siri”. All you have to do is enable the new wrist-raise option which will automatically activate the assistant. You can also set the watch such that pushing and holding the crown will also get the Siri going.
9. Turning off Siri in the watch
If you want Siri switched off, that can be done from your Apple Watch. Go to the Settings on your watch and choose the option, General. In that option, opt for Siri and tap the toggle next to Hey Siri to turn it off.
10. Take a screenshot
Screenshot can be taken with an Apple Watch when the Digital Crown and the action button below it are pressed simultaneously. These images are saved in the camera roll on your iPhone. This is not a default setting though. It has to be enabled by going to the Watch companion app and then choosing the option, General, in which you can toggle Enable Screenshots on or off.
11. ECG Reading
One of the new features introduced in Apple Watch from Series 4 is the Electrocardiogram(ECG) reading. With this feature, the watch will detect if you have atrial fibrillation(AFib) which is a form of irregular heart rhythm. It records your heartbeat and heart rhythm to find if you have AFib. The ECG app can be set up within the Health app on your iPhone. In the app, choose the option, Heart. Then choose ECG and within that, choose Set Up ECG App to set it up. Once you are done with the set up, open the ECG app to take an ECG.
12. Discreetly view the time
There are several ways to tell time with the Apple Watch. To check time without having to fully illuminate the watch screen or raise your wrist, twist the digital crown upwards which will brighten the screen to let you have a look at the time. Raise your wrist and time will appear on the watch face — in the clock in grid view and at the top-right most corner of most apps.
You can hear the time as well by going to the Settings in your Apple Watch, select Clock and then turn on the option for Speak Time. Now if you hold two fingers on the watch face, the watch will speak the time to you. You can also set the watch to play chimes every hour.
You have to go to the Settings app>Clock>turn on the Chimes. You can choose the sound as well like Bells or Birds. Another option is to feel the time. To activate this, go to Settings app>tap Clock> select and switch on Taptic Time and choose the options available in Taptic time. Or you can ask Siri to tell the time by asking : “What time is it?”
13. Unpair your Apple Watch
In case you want to buy a new iPhone or you plan to give away the old Apple and get a new one, you have to do this pretty straightforward process. Go to the iPhone connected to your Apple Watch, choose the option Watch app> choose My Watch tab > select the ‘I’ on the screen within which you can choose the option of Unpair Apple Watch. The data can be erased by going to the Settings app>General>Reset>Erase All Content and Settings on the device itself.
14. Change the wrist-raise action
You can wake up your Apple Watch by just raising your wrist. You have a few options within this feature so that it can be set according to your convenience. In the Apple Watch Settings menu, turn on the Wrist Raise feature.
Below this, there are a couple of options within the ‘On screen Raise Show Last App’. You can choose when you want your watch to wake up to the previous app you were in like always, in one hour of last use, in 2 minutes of last use or Never Unless in session.
Now when you raise your wrist it will take you to the app you were using before the Apple Watch went to sleep. This setting can be done from within the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Go to General>Wake Screen>you have a couple of options to choose from this.
15. Get different bands
With the new bands released every few months in new colours to match the season and your wardrobe, Apple is fervent on pushing its Apple Watch bands. But if you are not interested in spending a huge amount on Apple’s bands, there are third-party options. The old bands can still be used in the Apple Watch Series 4 which comes with a bigger case.
16. Use Running auto pause
Like in other third-party apps, Apple also lets you pause run tracking when your run gets interrupted. The automatic run pausing can be enabled by going to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. In the app, choose the tab My Watch and then select Workout, where you can set the Running Auto Pause.
17. Unlock Watch from your iPhone
You can unlock your Apple Watch and iPhone at the same time without having to use a password. To set this, go to the Watch companion app and set the Unlock with iPhone feature on. You should be wearing the watch to set this feature to work.
18. Turn on the heart rate notification
The feature included in the newer Apple Watch is heart rate monitoring. It can detect irregularity in your heart rhythm, a condition called atrial fibrillation. This feature to detect AFib can be enabled in the watch companion app. Once you activate it, you will have to set a threshold value.
The Apple Watch will alert you whenever that particular value is crossed and if you have been inactive for about ten minutes. It will also assess if the elevated or falling heart rate is a long persisting problem in you rather than deriving the result from a temporary or momentary variation — for example the variation brought by watching a horror movie.
Also, you can see your heart rate data in the Heart Rate app in your Apple Watch. A graph on heart rate data can be viewed in the Health app on your iPhone. You can see the heart rate data over the last one hour, day, week , month and even a year.
19. The Breathe app
Tap into the Apple Watch Breathe app if you are stressed. This will lead you to the on-screen instructions and will make you focus on your breathing for a selected time. It is quite a handy wellness feature from Apple. You can edit the details such as the number of breaths per minute, number of notifications you receive and how prominent the haptic feedback is through the Watch app on your iPhone.
20.Connect your workouts
If you want to shift from one workout to another, instead of stopping the current one and then starting a new one, all you have to do is to swipe right and tap the ‘+’ button. This will add the new workout you want to do. This means Apple Watch has got better for the triathlete in you. You do not have to keep rubbing the sweaty fingers around the screen to keep adding workouts.
21. Sharing activity rings
Activity Platform is where all your daily movements are recorded. In its latest version you can share the progress of your activity with other Apple Watch users.
To accomplish this, you have to add friends by going to the app dedicated for activity, the Activity app in your iPhone. Within this app select Sharing and hit the ‘+’ icon in the corner to add contacts.
Now, in the Apple Watch, go to the Activity app and swipe right to view Activity data of your friends. You can also pass your comments to them to keep them motivated or to challenge them.
22.Change the move goal
The move goal is your calorie benchmark for each day. It can get a bit unsatisfying if it is too high or too low. The Watch will frequently let you know how you are getting on. You can in fact alter the number directly from your watch as well. Go to the Activity app and Force Touch the rings. Now the move goal pops up and you can adjust your goal now. This comes handy when you want to keep ramping up your target.
23. Pictures for watch faces
The Apple Watch selects images from the Favourites folder on your iPhone by default. You can tag some images in iOS using the heart button at the bottom. When you use the photo album on the watch face, it will randomly select photos from the folder. You can tap on the face to go through the images. You can also turn those photos into trippy designs with the kaleidoscope face. Go to the ‘Create Watch Face’ menu in your iPhone and here you can set a picture on your watch face as it is or in a kaleidoscopic design.
24.Music playback controls
If you have an updated OS of watchOS 4.3 and above, the music playback can be controlled on the Apple HomePod or iPhone, directly from the Watch. The iPhone users had access to this feature after watchOS 4 was launched.
But it was soon removed after music streaming got included to the smartwatch through watchOS 4.1. This feature of music control is on demand with more HomePods entering more homes and due to the ease in controlling it offers. Users can select tunes, increase or decrease the volume, and skip the music as well from the wrist.
If there are more than one device to play audio for example, iPhone or HomePods, the name of the device will appear on the top-left corner. Tap on this to see the list of devices and then tap one to control it.
25.Control AirPod volume
If you want to change the volume on the Airpods without having to use your iPhone, you can do it either by talking to Siri or from your Apple Watch. For an Apple Watch that runs on watchOS 4 or any later versions, the information on the music that is being played from your iPhone or the Watch itself, will be displayed on the watch face. To raise or lower the volume, all you have to do is to rotate the Digital Crown, which makes it more convenient.
26. Enable Fall Detection
Apple unveiled the Fall Detection feature during the release of its Apple Watch Series 4. This feature is not turned on by default. But when it is on, the Watch can detect if you fall and offer automatic assistance.
However, unless you are above 65 years old and you have not specified the age in the Health app, the new feature will not be activated to detect your falls. But you can enable it no matter what your age is by going to the Apple Watch app on the iPhone>tap on the MyWatch tab>go through to Emergency SOS>set the Fall Detection option.
But Apple has indicated that physically active people can falsely trigger fall detection. So it is up to the individual user to decide on whether this feature with potentially incessant notifications is required for self.
27. Keep a tab on the data usage
If you have an Apple Watch with a cellular connection, it is better if you keep an eye on your data usage. Alternatively, it is surprising to see how little data the Apple Watch actually uses. To set this feature on, head over to the companion app, and find the cellular menu option to get the information on this. By doing so, you get information on how much data you have used in the current period and the amount of data used by individual apps.
28. Keep track of your storage
The amount of storage available on the Apple Watch is decent enough to accomodate apps, emails and music. To keep a track of the storage available to you, go to the Apple Watch companion app, choose the option, General. In there, select the option Usage. Here, you can get a breakup of how much space each app is using.
29. Change the size of the texts
If you find it difficult to read the small sized text notifications on the watch face, you can change the size of the text. This can be done by going to the Settings, choose Brightness and Text Size option in there and configure it to the size that is comfortable for you to read.
30. Eject water out after your swim
The Apple Watch is waterproof from series 2 onwards. It also has the feature to eject water to get rid of any water that would have leaked into the watch during your swimming.
To manually enable this feature, swipe up from the main home screen to go to the Apple Watch Control Center. FInd the water droplet icon in there and press it. Now if you twist the digital crown, the water will be ejected.
It is better if you tap this droplet button before getting into the pool or shower (but it is okay even if you forget to do so) as it will also lock the screen and prevents the watch from getting confused between water droplets and your fingers.
31.Ping your iPhone
If you lose your iPhone, your Apple Watch will help you find it. Swipe up the screen to go to the Control Center. In that, look for the option, ‘Ping iPhone’ button and tap on it to find your iPhone. Tapping and holding the ‘Ping iPhone’ button will make the LED flash on the iPhone blink. This will give you a visual guide in case your speaker gets muffled.
32. Reply from the wrist
The Apple Watch does not have a keyboard on it and probably will never have one. But there are other ways to respond to texts. Apart from custom responses, tapping the microphone will allow you to dictate replies with your voice or you can scribble them letter by letter. That is quite a task but Siri is getting better at voice detection. Also if you are paired with a Bluetooth headphone with a mic, it becomes a smoother task.
33. Force restart
According to Apple, force restart should be your last resort that is, only when you are left without a choice. In such a case, press the Digital Crown and side button simultaneously for about ten seconds. Similar to restarting your iPhone, the Apple logo will pop up and the watch will restart.
34. Cover to dim
Suppose the notifications to your watch comes with sounds while you are in the middle of a meeting or in a situation where loud notification rings are bizarre. You need not worry much. You can turn on the ‘Cover to Mute’ feature in the Sound and Haptics settings. By this, if you simply cover your watch for three seconds, it will stop disturbing you with notification sounds.
35. Use third-party complications
While your Apple Watch itself has complications that show the battery life, the date and more, you can add complications or information from third-party apps to the watch face of an Apple Watch, from Series 2 onwards. To know which apps have complications, open the Apple Watch app on the iPhone and tap the My Watch tab and then choose Complications.
Now to choose the ones that you want to use, choose the Edit menu and tap on the add button. Once the complication is added in the Apple Watch app on the iPhone, it can be added to your watch. In the watch face, press the display and choose Customize. Now you can tap on a complication and rotate the Digital Crown to select the information you want on the watch face.
You can remove the complication as well by tapping on the delete button and choosing Remove in it. On the Apple Watch Series 4, the main faces for these are Infograph and Infograph Modular, where you will get spots for eight and six complications respectively. On other Series, there are the options for Modular, Utility and Chronograph.
36. Use theater mode
Has your Apple Watch ever been a nuisance in a dark cinema hall with a beacon going off on your wrist while moving your arm? To avoid this, swipe on the watch face and tap on the Greek theatre faces to enable Theater Mode. This will keep the display of your watch off during the movie.
37. Some gym-based cardio
Apple GymKit is released. It may take some time for gyms across the world to get the necessary equipment to work with it. But the process has begun. GymKit allows you to connect your Apple Watch to an NFC terminal on cardio equipment, which will sync all data on your exercise perfectly.
38. Transfer a call to your iPhone
If you received a call on your Watch, but you want to shift that call to your iPhone, accept the call from the smartwatch and then swipe up to send the call over to the phone.
39. Get your podcast app
The most requested feature was the Podcast app and it was finally released with the watchOS 5 in 2018. With an update, you can now listen to your favourite podcasts by syncing them with your iPhone and Mac. Conveniently, a podcast can be paused halfway through on one device and picked up on another device.
40. The workout app
The Workout app in the Apple Watch has got another upgrade in watchOS 5. It already had an update last year that included a set of new workouts like HIIT sessions, skiing and snowboarding. The new upgrade gives you automatic exercise detection.
The Apple Watch will sense the kind of workout that you are doing, but it will not confirm the type of workout you are doing by itself. Instead, it will send you a notification to confirm with you if the workout it has sensed is correct and if correct, it will remind you to start tracking. Once that is done, it will give you retroactive credit for the amount of workout you have already done.
It can also prompt you in case you have forgotten to end a workout. A few more new workouts like yoga and hiking are also included in the list. The algorithm of yoga is built off your heart rate. But for workouts like hiking, heart rate from elevation gain is taken into consideration.
41. Power reserve mode
If you feel that the power is draining too fast, you can set the watch to power reserve mode. Swipe up on the main watch screen to go to the Control Center. The first icon displayed in it will be current battery status. Tap on this to go to the Power Reserve button. But if this problem persists, you should probably find out how to use your device efficiently to save the battery reserve.
42. Trim notifications
The Apple Watch will show all the notifications that appear on the iPhone by default. But it can be turned off individually to avoid continuous notification alerts. To set this, go to the Apple Watch menu in the iPhone, tap on Notifications and scroll down to ‘Mirror iPhone Alerts From’. Here, turn off all the unwanted notifications.
43. Set up for the left-handers
The Digital Crown is adjustable to make it left-hander friendly by flipping its controls so that the Crown works on the bottom left instead of top right. In the iPhone companion app, go to General and scroll to the Watch Orientation option. In there, choose your preferred wrist and the position of the Digital Crown.
44. Reorganize your apps
There are different options available to organize your apps. There is the traditional honeycomb grid that is easier to set up by going to the companion app and choosing App Layout in it. You can organize your apps there. You have another option of list view. This can be set on the watch. Force touch on the app selection screen to choose the list view option.
45. Mickey and Minnie speak
Mickey and Minnie can speak in their trademark voices through your Apple Watch to cheer you up. Go to the Mickey and Minney watch face and tap on them to listen to the time. It has to be switched on by going to Sounds and Haptics in the companion app and by enabling ‘Tap to Speak’.
46. Trim watch faces
Mickey mouse has been the face of Apple’s marketing campaign. But it is quite difficult to read the time from his stubby arms acting like a watch needle. In fact there are only three other watch faces that we can bear to use. You can remove the unwanted ones by swiping them up and to add one back, press the + button at the end of the list.
47. Delete Apple Stock apps
You would probably never use Apple’s Stock app on the iPhone, unless you are really into the stock market. So in iOS 10, Apple has introduced an option to delete this app from your iPhone which essentially deletes it from your Apple Watch as well.
48. Apple Pay Cash
Apple Pay Cash is like a debit card that will allow you to pay at the stores and also to pay your friends. This was introduced in the Apple Watches with watchOS 4.2.
All you have to do is to open the messages app on your Watch and pay. You can also prompt your friends in case they have to pay you. To set up Apple Pay Cash, link your debit card to your Apple Pay account.
Then, go to the Settings on your iPhone, choose the option Wallet and Apple Pay. There, you need to choose Apple Pay Cash. Now, by agreeing to the terms and conditions, the Apple Pay Cash is ready to use.
49. Turn off the always-on display
The always-on display was introduced in Apple Watch Series 5. This feature keeps the display on the watch always on which makes it easy for you to sneak at the time, anytime. This feature also gives the feeling of a traditional watch on your wrist. But there may be times when you do not want it. To switch it off, open the Settings app on the Apple Watch and tap on the Display & Brightness tab. There, choose the option, Always On. Switch off the feature by tapping the switch from green to white.
50. Send your location through message
You can send your live location from your watch through message. This can be done from a Messages conversation by Force Touching the display and tap on the option, Send Location.
51. Flag an email for a later time
Even if you receive an email notification on your Apple Watch, it is difficult to type a reply on the watch. In such cases, you have the option to flag the important emails so that you can reply later. This can be done by Force Touching on an email and tapping on Flag.
52. Choose mailboxes for notifications
You can choose the mailbox from which you want to receive emails on your watch. For example, if you want only personal mails coming to your watch and not prefer work mails, you can set it up on your iPhone. Go to the iPhone’s Watch app. There, go to My Watch and then to the option, Mail. In this option, scroll to Include Mail and select the mailboxes from which you wish to receive emails on your watch.