Apple Watch review

Apple Watch review: Apps

Apple's Apple Watch apps include Messages, Mail, Weather, Maps, Calendar, Passbook, Music, Photos and more. Apple doesn't intend for you to use the Apple Watch for web browsing, though, so Safari is notably absent.

Maps is among the most useful of Apple's apps, bringing turn-by-turn directions to your wrist. It's much more convenient than getting out your iPhone and by using the Taptic feedback to tell you whether to turn left or right, you won't need to look at a screen anywhere near as much, and can concentrate more on what's going on around you. 

You can use the Apple Watch to answer and make phone calls thanks to the built-in microphone and speaker, but we doubt you'll want to, particularly if you're outside or in a public place where everyone will be able to hear both sides of the conversation. If you're somewhere quiet you might find that it works well, but the quality isn't great at all.

There's also the ability to reply to text messages using smart responses or dictation, which we found worked well but again, only if you're in a quiet place and only if you speak very clearly.

Third party developers have been busy creating apps for the Apple Watch, incorporating Glances and the 10 – 15 second idea into the design. Apps range from hotel apps that let you use your Apple Watch as a key to apps that help you find your car in the car park. There are even games designed for the Apple Watch, though we don't image we'll spend much time using our Apple Watch for gaming.  Facebook, Twitter, Shazam, CityMapper, TripAdvisor and more have confirmed that they're creating Glances for the Apple Watch.

It's such third-party apps that'll make the difference between whether it's worth buying or not, and it'll differ between each and every individual. Before you decide to invest your £299 or more in the Apple Watch, it's important to think about what you plan on using it for. Do you want to use it to remotely control various internet-connected devices around your home, for example? If yes, you'll need to check whether there's an app available to let you do that to find out whether the Apple Watch is worth buying for you.

But as mentioned in the specs section, we found most third-party apps to be annoyingly slow and often buggy. We're sure they'll improve over time, but for the moment it can be particularly frustrating. So much for that 10-15 seconds at a time thing, Apple.

Right now, we don't think there's a killer app on the Apple Watch that would make us feel like it's worth the £299 or more it costs. We think that app will arrive eventually, but right now we're still waiting.

Apps are all downloaded by first installing them on your iPhone and syncing with your Apple Watch. Apps can be reorganised on your Apple Watch home screen using the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, too.

Apple Watch review: Fitness tracking

Apple has also come up with new Apple Watch specific apps for fitness tracking, something we've come to expect from smartwatches what with the rise in fitness and activity tracking wrist-bands from the likes of Fitbit and Jawbone.

The fitness tracking features are made possible thanks to the heart-rate sensor and accelerometer. As mentioned previously, GPS is also utilised but the Apple Watch uses the iPhone to gather that information – there's no GPS built-in.

The first of Apple's apps is Activity, which features three rings that represent Move, Stand and Exercise. Move shows you how many calories you've burned. Stand measures how often you get up off your bottom, and will prompt you to do so should you remain sitting for an hour without getting up. And Exercise measures activities that it considers to be as strenuous or more strenuous than a brisk walk. When the rings are full in the Activity app, you've met your target (which you can set with factors including calories, time or distance. Apple will use your sex, age, weight, height and general activity level to make target recommendations, but you can adjust them as you please) and you'll earn an achievement.

The Workout app takes things a bit further, tracking your workouts whether you're running, walking, cycling and more. It'll measure how far you travelled, how fast you moved and how long you were working out for. And for iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus owners, it'll also measure elevation thanks to the built-in barometer in Apple's latest smartphone. It'll keep all of this information in the companion app on your iPhone so you can track your progress over weeks and months.

The Apple Watch will monitor your heartrate throughout the day, even if you've not asked it to, which it does to help estimate how many calories you've burned and when you've been doing what it considers to be "excursive" but we're not convinced that it's completely accurate. We'll be carrying out further tests on the heartrate monitor soon and will update this review once we've determined just how accurate (or inaccurate as the case may be) the Apple Watch is. 

Apple Watch features: Apple Pay

Additionally, the Apple Watch features an NFC chip that will allow you to use it with Apple Pay, Apple's secure mobile payment system. Unfortunately, though, Apple Pay still hasn't made its way to the UK so we might have to wait a while until we can use that functionality here.

When it does arrive, though, we imagine it'll be brilliantly handy not to have to dig around in a bag or pocket to get out our purse or wallet at the checkout in a shop. You'll be able to touch your wrist to an Apple Pay supported reader to pay in seconds.

Apple Watch features: Time

Of course, the Apple Watch can also tell you the time. There are lots of different (software-based) watch faces to choose from, some of which you can see below, and you can quickly and easily change it whenever you fancy.

Next section: Apple Watch price