The Apple Watch is one of the most feature-rich smartwatches available, and here at Wareable we're keen to make sure you get the most from your new smartwatch.
It can be a steep learning curve, but there's so much potential to unlock – which is why we've penned this complete guide. From your first hour with the Apple Watch to loading it up with essential apps, boosting battery life, setting up Apple Pay and pimping it out with new straps and bands, we've got you covered.
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It's one of the common questions among people looking to buy the Apple Watch for the first time – what does it actually do?
Well, a lot more than just offering you the chance to read text messages and answer calls on your wrist, rather than your phone, which is the main feature everybody knows.
- Get messages and notifications on the wrist
- Fitness tracking
- Workout tracking
- Heart rate monitoring
- GPS tracking of workouts (on GPS versions)
- Make calls and receive messages away from your phone (LTE versions with data plan)
- Turn-by-turn navigation
- Siri commands – alarms, timers, reminders
- Display tickets and boarding passes
- Tell the time
There are now three models of Apple Watch on sale – and within those there are multiple options too.
The Apple Watch Series 3 is the latest version, and that comes in two flavours, with LTE and just plain GPS. There's also the Apple Watch Edition, which is a Series 3 built in ceramic and the Apple Watch Nike+ as well.
The Apple Watch Series 1 is the budget version, and comes without GPS or LTE – making it the choice for users that aren't too bothered with accurate outdoor sports tracking.
You can still pick up bargain Apple Watch Series 2 smartwatches – although these are no longer officially sold by Apple. There's plenty on Amazon, however, and you still get GPS tracking for a low price.
38mm vs 42mm: How to pick the right Apple Watch size?
Once you've decided which model is best for you, the next step is figuring out which size you need and all Apple Watches come in 42mm or 38mm versions.
Apple itself recommends the 38mm for wrists measuring 130-200mm, while the bigger option is better suited to 140-210mm.
When you take your Apple Watch out of the box, it's the same as everyone else's. What makes your smartwatch personal is the style and the apps, which mean your Apple Watch will be unique to your needs.
Check out our guide on how to set up your Apple Watch.
watchOS 5 offers some of the biggest changes to the Apple Watch experience, overhauling notifications, the new walkie talkie mode, and adding a bunch of new health and workout features such as automatic exercise detection.
Check out our guide to everything you need to know about watchOS 5.
The Apple Watch has an undeniably steep learning curve, and the first 24 hours can be a little frustrating for the uninitiated. Check out our guide on how to use the Apple Watch, including all the new features and interface tweaks from watchOS 4 and ones coming through watchOS 5.
If there's one major differentiator between the Apple Watch and the competition, it's the breadth of apps. Just like the iPhone, Apple has left the killer features of the Apple Watch up to its army of developers.
If you've only got five minutes, our favourites are…
- CARROT Fit
- Just Press Record
If you're looking for more ways trick out your smartwatch, check out our guide to the best Apple Watch apps – also check out some of our other round-ups.
As the Apple Watch has matured, it's found its niche as a superb health and fitness watch. Whether you're keen to live a healthier lifestyle, or want to step up to running, cycling or the gym, the Apple Watch is a powerful workout companion.
Apple Watch as a fitness tracker
The Apple Watch is a very good fitness tracker and can also track workouts – and if you have a Series 3 with GPS, it can replace your standard fitness watch.
The activity app keeps tabs on movement, calories burned and standing time, and you're encouraged to 'close the rings' in order to make your daily goals. There's also a Breathe app, which encourages mindfulness, and taking time out of your day.
All stats are viewable on the watch, are tracked within the Activity app on your iPhone, and populate the Apple Health app, too.
Heart rate tracking has been part of the Apple Watch since the original, but it's only since watchOS 4 that it's turned into a powerful tool.
Heart rate activity is now tracked throughout the day, and you're able to keep tabs on resting heart rate, which is a big indicator of improving fitness, and also tiredness and stress as well.
What's more, the heart rate monitor can keep tabs on your ticker and alert you to elevated bpm, which could be dangerous. Check out our full Apple Watch heart rate monitor guide for more.
Apple Watch for workouts
The Workout app is a different beast, and enables you to track a bunch of different activities, from running and cycling to indoor workouts (which essentially just keep tabs on your heart rate, calories and time spent).
There's also a host of third-party fitness apps, which can now make use of in-built sensors including GPS and heart rate. Examples include Strava, and other big names, such as Endomondo and Nike Run Club.
There's so much more to the Apple Watch than meets the eye, and there's a host of tweaks and hidden features hidden under the hood. Try these out for size…
- Ping your iPhone
- Turn on elevated heart rate notifications
- Chain together your workouts
- Unlock your Mac from your Watch
- Check your data usage
- Change the wrist-raise action
- Use pictures as watch faces
Check out our round-up of Apple Watch tips and tricks and find out how you can make it work your way.
And why not try out these other ideas:
While Google Maps has been cut from the platform, Apple Maps is a good experience on Apple Watch - with turn-by-turn directions and local points of interest.
Unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch
Bored of typing in your passcode? Your Apple Watch can be used to open your iPhone and Mac seamlessly. Just enable Mac unlock within the Security preferences. For iPhone, head to Settings > Passcode and switch on the option there.
You can access real-time heart rate data on your Apple Watch, but the powerful stuff comes from the analysis. Check the Activity app for details of your bpm throughout the day, and the Apple Health app for resting heart rate.
Get in control with Siri on your Apple Watch
Pressing in the Digital Crown will summon Siri and you can take advantage of Apple's digital assistant on your wrist. It's a quick way to set things like timers and reminders, and you can also take advantage of smart home control, too.
Complications are one of the best features on Apple's smartwatch. These tiny little widgets can be added to the watch face to offer some Watch customisation. But getting the right combination of watch face and complication is not the easiest. Thankfully, we've done the hard work for you and picked out the best Apple Watch faces and complication combos.
The extreme prices of official Apple Watch straps means that most of us are rocking the basic silicon band – but the third-party strap market is growing all the time.
Check out our round-up of third-party Apple Watch straps and pick yourself up a new stylish band at a fraction of the price. In fact, why not buy two – and swap dependent on the outfit. And if you're looking for a bit more, including cases and docks, check out the best Apple Watch accessories.
Apple Pay is one of the Apple Watch's killer features, and now it's available in a host of countries around the world.
It's a great way to pay, especially for runners, cyclists and commuters who don't have to reach for their wallet or take their card out on a workout.
Apple Music enables users to stream and listen to a library of nearly 30 million songs, and now it's available directly on Apple Watch. If you've got an LTE-enabled Apple Watch Series 3, you'll be able to stream music to your heart's content. You'll just need a pair of Bluetooth headphones. If you're not rocking the cellular Apple Watch, you can also sync over albums and playlists and control music on your iPhone. To get the full details on how to do that, check out our guide to adding music to your Apple Watch.
So, you've got the Apple Watch Series 3 and have the red Digital Crown to prove it. You're ready to cut the cord and fly free, but don't know how to get started. Well, you can start by checking out guide on how to get LTE on the Apple Watch Series 3.