1. Best app for navigation
  2. Best app for hiking
  3. Best app for swimming
  4. Best app for heart rate training
  5. Best app for skiing

Best Apple Watch Ultra apps: Supercharge your outdoor watch with these picks

These are the five apps we use to boost the Ultra and Ultra 2
Wareable Best apps for Ultra
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The Apple Watch Ultra is now an established smartwatch for outdoor lovers - but, even after the more recent release of the Ultra 2, some key features are still missing.

There’s still plenty to suggest Apple's top-tier watch will become a more accomplished adventure companion over time, with the company even opening up its APIs to developers of workout apps in watchOS 10, but third-party apps will have to fill in the gaps in the meantime.

Luckily, the Apple Watch Ultra and Ultra 2 don't have problems in this department; the thriving App Store and an army of developers help plug the gaps in current native functionality. 

And to save you from hunting yourself, we've picked out five Apple Watch Ultra apps that can better equip the smartwatch for your land, water, or snow-based adventures - with some also playing nice with the Ultra's Action button.

Best app for navigation



Free (with in-app purchases) | Download Footpath app

Works with Action button: Yes

If you’re finding the Ultra’s mapping and navigation skills lacking, the route-planning app Footpath is well worth downloading instead.

There’s a free version of the app, but you’ll need to pay for the Elite subscription ($4 a month or $24 a year) to make the most of its Apple Watch support, which does extend to integrating support for the Ultra’s Action button.

You can send routes to the Watch and follow them offline using well-designed audio-based turn-by-turn navigation.

You’ll also be able to glance down at full topographic maps, that enable you to swipe and pan across maps and twist the Watch crown to zoom in and out.

Footpath supports the ability to use its navigation alongside Apple’s Workout app, and you can listen to music and podcasts while still getting the benefit of turn-by-turn navigation support. 

As mentioned, Footpath will let you use the Action button to toggle the map or speak the next turn instruction when you don’t want to swipe on that display to do that instead.

It’s about as fully fledged as an Apple Watch app you can get for navigation and it’s even built nicely to specifically play nice with the Ultra.

Best app for hiking



$6.99/£6.99 | Download the WorkOutDoors app

Works with Action button: Yes

The Apple Watch Ultra has all the ingredients to be a decent smartwatch for single-day hikes – but there are plenty of missing features. 

Enter WorkOutDoors, which plugs plenty of the gaps left by Apple.

It's heavy on hiking-specific metrics and also offers rich, vector-style topographic maps to give you a sense of the terrain you’re tackling with maps automatically rotating when you change direction. 

For our money, the best feature is the ability to upload GPX routes and follow them from the Watch itself.

You can easily export and load up workouts and routes and there’s breadcrumb-style navigation support to help you get around the nicely designed maps on-screen. 

It does work as a standalone app and you can store routes for offline use and you can keep those data screens as busy or as data-light as you want them to be.

Since the arrival of the Ultra, WorkOutDoors has also added support for Apple’s Action button so you can hit that big button to end the workout, pause or resume a workout, toggle full or faded map views, and a whole lot more.

Best app for swimming

Swim.com: Swim tracker


Free | Download Swim.com app

Works with Action button: No

We’ve spoken plenty in the past about our thoughts on Apple’s swim tracking skills, as it offers some of the most reliable support for tracking that time in the water.

Apple’s native Workout app you can use to track swims is good. However, if you’re looking for something a little more comprehensive, we think that the clunkily named 'Swim.com: Swim Tracker' is the standout third-party option.

There's no shortage of data and swim-based metrics, and the app can help locate places to take a dip.

It can recognize stroke type, count the number of strokes, and let you see that data on and off the Watch.

What's more, Swim Tracker offers drill and pace modes for more focused training time. 

The other side of the app is the workout support, giving you a sizeable library of workouts you can follow to add some variety to your swimming time.

For the more competitive swimmers, you can see how you’re shaping up on leaderboards, and track weekly swimming goals.

The developers have been making improvements to improve support specifically for the Apple Watch Ultra – and while this app has been around for some time, few beat it for detail, training, and motivation.

Best app for heart rate training



Free (or $4.99/£4.99 one-off payment for Premium) | Download Zones app

Works with Action button: No

Apple has added features in recent watchOS updates to make its smartwatches better for monitoring effort levels or displaying heart rate zones, but, for some, it still may not be enough.

If you’re still feeling like Apple’s approach to heart rate during that workout time isn’t quite there, one of the standout apps to use instead is Zones.

This app puts your heart rate front and center, covering running, walking, and cycling, as well as modes for workouts like surfing, snowboarding, and skiing.

Pick your activity and your Watch screen will be filled with your current heart rate - and will vibrate to nudge you to tell you you’ve breached another heart rate zone.

You can only pick from showing off heart rate or exercise intensity on screen, and then it’s over to the companion iPhone app to delve deeper into the HR stats.

You can see a clear breakdown of time spent in heart rate zones, average heart rate, and heart rate ranges, and gain insights into your heart rate recovery.

Once you paid up the one-off purchase for the premium version, you can adjust your 4 or 5 zones, and adjust zone colors and it just makes training by heart rate feel a little more engaging on that big Ultra screen.

Best app for skiing

Slopes: Ski and Snowboard


Free (with in-app purchases) | Download Slopes app 

Works with Action button: Yes

The Slopes app is built to track your skiing and snowboarding time, serving up multiple screens of metrics and giving you access to features on your Watch that make it handy to have it on that app drawer.

Along with dishing out real-time stats that include speed, meters covered, and altitude data, it can detect when you’ve stopped to jump on a ski lift. 

It can also let you know if fellow Slope-using friends are nearby and have started tracking their sessions.

Slopes pulls in real-time heart rate data if you care about measuring your effort and that data will have a direct impact on closing your Rings too. If you pay up for the premium version of the app you’ll also be able to delve into additional insights to get a better sense of how you’re performing over time.

It’s also one of the few apps that have embraced Apple’s new Action button, letting you use that big orange physical button to quickly start a workout, which is handy when wearing gloves.

And it makes full use of the Ultra’s onboard multiband GPS to determine your location it will make sure it’s tracking your moves out on the slopes accurately.

TAGGED Apple Watch

How we test

Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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