Our Apple Watch tips and tricks guide shows you how to get started with your shiny wrist rocket, revealing some of the most useful hidden features in WatchOS 4. Here’s our full guide to getting the most from your Apple Watch, whether it’s a Series 3, Series 2 or the original wearable.
We’re now on the third iteration of Apple’s designer wearable, which boasts full cellular support – making it completely independent of your trusty iPhone. Of course, that nifty eSIM is just one of the many cool features you’ll find tucked away inside of Apple’s Watch.
The Apple Watch Series 2 already added loads of great new features to the original Watch, including built-in GPS and full waterproofing. And with the very latest version of WatchOS on board, there are loads of useful features hidden away that you might not know about.
This tips and tricks guide aims to reveal some of the best little hidden features of the Apple Watch and WatchOS, so you get the most from your smart wearable. Head over to our comprehensive Apple Watch hub for all you need to know about the various devices.
How to setup your Apple Watch
When you first pull your Watch out of its packaging, you’ll need to go through the setup process to pair with your iPhone. Thankfully this is a pretty straightforward process, as you’ll see in our video below. Just make sure your iPhone is charged up before you get started.
What is the Watch app on my iPhone for?
Your one-stop shop for setting up your Apple wearable is the Watch app on your iPhone. You should find this app right there on your desktops, unless you’ve already deleted it. In which case, simply head to the App Store and re-download.
In here you can change everything from the watch faces and general settings to the apps that are installed on it. Have a browse around to get accustomed to it. We’ll be revisiting the Watch app several times in this guide, to help you customise your wrist device.
How to setup your eSIM on the Apple Watch Series 3
One of the biggest new features on the Series 3 wearable is the eSIM, which is buried away inside of the chassis. This allows you to connect to a mobile network directly on the watch, without having to tether to an iPhone. You’ll be able to receive notifications and even place calls through your Apple Watch, using the same phone number as before.
Here in the UK, the only provider that supports Watch Series 3 is EE. You’ll therefore need to be an EE customer to take advantage of the Watch’s cellular connectivity.
If you’re on EE, head to the Watch app on your iPhone and scroll down to Mobile Data. In here you can set up your mobile subscription. Just enter your My EE ID and password and follow the instructions to add Watch support to your account.
Of course, you’ll have to be the bill payer in order to get this setup. Bear in mind that you’ll be charged an extra fiver a month for this service too.
How to download new apps for the Apple Watch
The Apple Watch comes with a selection of pre-installed apps, but you’ll want to download and install some new apps from Apple’s App Store to boost your shiny new wearable’s functionality.
To do so, you’ll need to load up the Watch app on your iPhone. Down at the bottom of the screen you’ll see an ‘App Store’ section. Give that a tap and you’ll see Apple’s currently featured apps, including fitness trackers, news streamers, sports apps, recipe suggesters. There’s even a decent collection of games, for killing time as you wait for your bus to eventually rock up.
How to change and reorder your Apple Watch faces
You can change your current watch face at any time, simply by powering on your Apple Watch and swiping your finger left or right across the screen. This allows you to choose from a pretty varied selection of faces, including digital and analogue timepieces, some picturesque portraits and even Mickey and Minnie.
You can change the order that these show up in by heading into the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Go to the My Watch page and then tap ‘Edit’ next to My Faces and you can delete any faces you don’t like and reorder the others, so you’re not swiping for ages to find your favourites.
WatchOS 4 has introduced some very cool new faces, including a very handy Siri face and a funky Toy Story effort.
How to edit and customise Apple Watch faces
You can also edit any watch face, to change the information that’s displayed via the ‘complications’ (as Apple calls them).
Once again head to My Watch tab inside the Watch app and tap on the face you wish to edit in the My Faces section. From this faces menu, you can change the overall colour scheme and also alter what info pops up. You get a wide choice of essential info, including activity feedback, calendar reminders and mail notifications.
Even better, these complications act as shortcuts to the relevant apps. So tap a calendar reminder and you’ll be taken to the calendar app, for a full overview of your coming day.
If you want to edit your watch face direct from the Watch itself, simply hard press the watch face (poke it really hard). The Watch’s 3D Touch screen will detect the extra pressure and a ‘customise’ option will pop up. Tap that and you can alter the colour by fiddling with the dial, or flick your finger left to set up the complications.
The latest version of the Watch app has a separate Face Gallery tab, located at the bottom of the screen. In here you’ll find all of Apple’s official faces, which can be personalised and added to your Watch.
How to download new watch faces for your Apple Watch
If you’re bored of the default watch face choices and want to try something new, that’s also perfectly possible.
Just head to the Apple Watch app and tap the App Store shortcut at the bottom of the screen. From here you can search for ‘watch face’ and discover hundreds of new faces to download and try out. Quite a lot of these cost a quid or two, but some are free to try out.
Finding and choosing new watch faces will be a lot easier with WatchOS 4, which also brings in some awesome fresh new first-party faces from Apple. This includes a nifty Siri face and some cool Toy Story faces.
How to customise your Apple Watch dock in WatchOS 4 and earlier
The Apple Watch’s dock feature gives you fast access to certain Watch apps.
Just tap the side button beneath the dial and you’ll see a scrollable list of your most recently used applications. Swipe your finger right across any app in there and you have the option to remove it.
You can also edit the Apple Watch dock from the Apple Watch app, so only your favourite apps show up in there. Just head to My Watch and tap Dock and you can choose exactly what apps to include and exclude, as well as the order in which they appear.
How to use the Apple Watch Control Center
Flick your fingertip up the screen from your main watch face and you’ll find the shiny new Control Center, first introduced in WatchOS 3. This gives you fast access to some important features, which can be toggled on and off to save power and so on.
If you have a Series 3 watch, one of the first icons you’ll spy is the mobile connectivity toggle. This looks like a mast, beaming out waves. Tap that and your Watch will drop connectivity using the eSIM, so you’ll need to connect via WiFi or your iPhone to get online.
One of the most useful entries is a battery life indicator, telling you how much power remains in your Watch. The Airplane Mode toggle silences your Watch and prevents you from being disturbed by any kind of notifications and alerts, although there’s also a separate Silent Mode toggle further down the Control Center (the bell icon).
Also helpful is Find My iPhone, which makes your handset bleep if it’s in range. Handy if it always ends up down the back of the sofa.
Last but not least, is the water mode. More on this in the next tip.
Get your Apple Watch Series 2 or 3 ready for a swim
The little water drop icon in the Apple Watch’s Control Center is the water or swim mode toggle. This basically locks your screen and is designed to be used when you’re going for a swim.
The idea is that it stops your Watch from going crazy in the water, as the touchscreen can sometimes register presses on contact with liquid. When you’re done, spin the Watch dial fast to unlock your screen again and eject any water from the device’s speakers.
What is Theatre Mode and how does it work?
Theatre Mode is one of the biggest new features which Apple added to the Watch in the WatchOS 3.2 update.
This is essentially a way of keeping your Watch quiet when you don’t want to be disturbed. Such as the theatre. Hence the name.
Theatre Mode will mute any incoming alerts and stop the Watch screen from waking when you move your wrist. Haptics alerts will still happen as normal, with noise and screen notifications disabled so no one else notices.
To activate Theatre Mode, head to the Control Center and tap the drama masks icon. To disable it again, just tap the screen or press the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown.
How to enter emergency SOS contact details on your Apple Watch
Hold the side button down and you’ll not only have the option to turn your Apple Watch off, but also to ping your emergency contacts using the SOS feature. This is great news for anyone who may require urgent attention.
To change your emergency contact details or disable this feature, head to the Apple Watch app and then tap ‘General’ in the My Watch menu. From here, poke Emergency SOS.
How to download games to the Apple Watch
If you’re desperate for a quick distraction but can’t fiddle with your phone for whatever reason, then the Apple Watch can rescue you with its growing selection of games and other time wasters. You can get some decent brain trainers and puzzle games on there right now, which are well suited to the tiny screen. Hell, you can even play a game of Solitaire on there, if your eyesight’s up to it.
Check out our compilation of the best Apple Watch 2 games you can download right now.
How to activate Siri on the Apple Watch
A quick double-tap of the dial button on earlier Watch devices prior to WatchOS 4 used to call up Siri. You could ask her a question or get her to load up an app with a quick command, although there was no voice feedback.
With WatchOS 4, you have a special Siri watch face which is one of the default options. Tap the Siri complication in the top left corner of the face and you can query the AI as usual. What’s more, with the latest Watch tech, you’ll get a fully voiced reply – if so desired.
How to monitor your heart rate and recovery rate with Apple Watch
Apple Watch will now continuously monitor your pulse throughout the day, to give a general overview of how stressed, overworked or chilled your time awake has been.
Tap the Heart Rate app on the watch and you can get a current reading, as well as see a scattergraph representation of your pulse’s ups and downs that day. This also gives an average BPM for resting and active times.
Head to the Health app on your iPhone and you’ll find that your pulse data has been updated automatically by the Watch, with more information on offer.
If you perform an activity using the Workout app, the Watch will also record your recovery rate. You can check this over time to see if your exercise regime is having any impact on your general fitness. Recovery rate can be checked from within the Heart Rate app and Apple Health.
How to update the Apple Watch
Apple regularly updates the Apple Watch with fresh new features, bug fixes and other worthy bits.
To check for a new update, head to the Watch app on your iPhone and scroll down in the My Watch tab until you find the General section. Tap this and then prod ‘software update’. This will check your Apple Watch version and then search for any waiting updates.
If an update is found, you’ll want to charge up your Watch and keep it attached to the charger. Download and install the update via your phone, keeping your Watch in close proximity for the duration.
We’re constantly updating this Apple Watch tips and tricks feature with new tips and hidden features. Stay tuned for more! In the meantime, check out our guide to 20 pretty cool things you can do with the Apple Watch.