The Apple Watch pairs up with your iPhone to deliver all kinds of great features straight to your wrist, including tracking your activities and controlling your media. And with the launch of the Apple Watch Series 3, this slick wearable just got even smarter.
If you’re tempted to splash out on the Apple Watch Series 3, or you’ve just slapped one on your wrist for the first time, you’ll probably want to know about all the cool stuff it can do. Here in a nutshell are some of the most impressive Apple Watch features, and check out our full Apple Watch tips and tricks guide for an in-depth look at setting up and getting the most from your sleek new wearable.
Best Apple Watch features: Answer or reject calls, from your wrist
One main function of a smart watch is to act as a second screen for your phone. To this end, Apple Watch will light up whenever someone is trying to call you. Tapping the green button means you can take the call on your Watch, or transfer calls to your iPhone, Bluetooth headset or a car’s speaker phone.
Best Apple Watch features: Save time normally wasted on spam
As well as answering calls, you can check any incoming emails and messages on the go. From your Watch you can mark messages as read, unread, flag them as spam or simply delete them. Good news if you get a lot of junk, as you’ll be saved from constantly pulling your mobile out of your pocket.
If you actually want to respond, you can tell Apple Watch to open a message on your iPhone – or send back a quick response right there from your watch face.
Best Apple Watch features: Mute incoming calls with a show of your palm
If you’re in the middle of a meeting, your phone’s in your jacket pocket and you’ve forgotten to turn it on silent, you’ll look
infinitely cooler less stupid by moving your hand over the screen of your Apple Watch, as opposed to awkwardly fumbling the vibrating, ringing phone out of your pocket. And then dropping it on the floor.
Best Apple Watch features: Ditch your phone entirely
If you’re heading off for a run, the last thing you want to do is stash your bulky iPhone 8 Plus in your shorts so you can stay in touch with the world or stream a bit of Apple Music. Thankfully the Watch Series 3 adds cellular support, so you can take calls and get online without any need to tether to your handset.
This is particularly helpful when your iPhone runs out of juice on the move, as you will still get calls and messages sent to your standard number. As long as you’re on EE here in the UK, that is.
Best Apple Watch features: Aaaaand breathe…
The Apple Watch has a built-in ‘Breathe’ function which sounds completely pointless, but can actually help you to relax when the ol’ stress monster hits. All you need to do is breathe in when prompted, filling your lungs until you’re told to exhale. You’re given vibration prompts, so you can use the feature without even looking at the screen – great news if you’re stuck in one of those horrific work meetings and need to calm down a bit.
Best Apple Watch features: Stay connected with your best Friends
Apple Watch lets you stay connected with the people you speak to the most with the Friends feature. A simple tap of a button will let you message, call or contact people in a number of unique ways which we’ll go through now.
Best Apple Watch features: Flirt with the ‘Taptic Engine’
The so-called taptic engine built into the Apple Watch lets you receive subtle notifications. Instead of a light flashing up or your watch vibrating loudly, you can be notified of new message with a silent, gentle vibration that only you’ll feel and no one else will hear.
If you’re flirting with a secret someone or simply having a conversation on something you’d rather keep private, this feature is for you.
Best Apple Watch features: Pester Siri at any time
With the latest version of WatchOS, you can pester Apple’s AI whenever you want with a quick ‘Hey, Siri!” aimed at your wrist. The voice assistant will listen for your next command and respond.
Alternatively, the new Siri watch face introduced in WatchOS 4 includes a complication that also calls Siri into action. A quick tap and you’re ready to find out if Des Lynam is still alive or worm food. And as a third option, you can simply push down the dial for a second or so.
Best Apple Watch features: Everyone loves emojis, right?
Good, because EMOJIS.
Best Apple Watch features: Share your heartbeat with the love of your life
The Apple Watch can measure your heartbeat by taking a pulse reading from your wrist. While this is primarily a smart health feature, the messaging function of the Watch also lets you share heartbeat readings with others. If you’re in a hopelessly soppy relationship, you might enjoy sharing vital signs with each other.
Best Apple Watch features: Kill time and train your brain
Although the tiny Apple Watch screen might not be perfectly suited to gaming, you can download and play a decent selection of games for Apple’s wearable via the Watch app. From online quizzes to brain-tickling puzzle games, there’s something for everyone – and you can even get stuck into some solitaire, if your eyeballs are up to it.
Check out our round-up of the best Apple Watch games for our favourite wrist-based time wasters.
Best Apple Watch features: Pokemon and cats, on demand
Best Apple Watch features: Scribble and share hairy penis drawings
If you’re less sophisticated in declaring your affections, you can scribble a crude penis or breasts on your Apple Watch and ping it over to your would-be partner. Chances are it won’t work.
In theory you can use the sketch tool to draw anything and send it to one of your contacts. In reality we think most people will use it to annoy and amuse each other in a time-honoured fashion.
Best Apple Watch features: Get fit and healthy
A key feature of most smartwatches is their ability to double as fitness trackers and Apple’s Watch is no exception.
It comes with a dedicated workout app built in that lets you set your own goals, whether you’re running, walking or cycling. You’ll be able to check how well you’re doing at a glance when you stop for a breather and get a full breakdown of your time, calories lost and the distance you’ve crossed at the end.
The Apple Watch 2 is even better than the original as it has built-in GPS, so you don’t need to take your iPhone with you on your run.
Best Apple Watch features: Track your laps in the pool
The Apple Watch Series 2 and Series 3 are also fully water-resistant, so you can now track your swimming sessions automatically instead of having to count off laps in your head. The smart swimming mode actually disables the screen until you spin the Watch’s dial too, so you don’t get any accidental interference when performing your best breaststroke.
Best Apple Watch features: Triathlons are now covered
If your exercise involves more than one kind of activity, you no longer have to stop your current session inside the Workout app, save it and then fiddle around kicking off a new one. Simply flick right and hit ‘new’ and you can quickly begin a new type of activity, with minimal delay and faff.
Best Apple Watch features: Fill your rings
Those activity rings are a pretty good incentive to get moving, although it’s not always obvious how much effort you need to put in to finish off a ring for the day. Luckily the latest version of Apple’s WatchOS can lay it down for you; hey, lazy, try walking for precisely 25 minutes and you’ll hit that goal. Nothing like a bit of motivation to help you achieve smug, shareable satisfaction.
Best Apple Watch features: Your wrist rocket can now literally save your life, in more ways than one
The Apple Watch Series 2 introduced the excellent SOS feature, which could prove a life-saver when you’re out and about.
If you find yourself in trouble, you can make the Watch 2 send out a distress message to your emergency contacts simply by holding down a button. This includes your precise location thanks to the built-in GPS, so help can immediately be sent your way.
The introduction of WatchOS 4 also gave us another potentially life-saving feature. Now the heart rate monitor can detect when your pulse is elevated during rest, to alert you of any possible conditions.
Best Apple Watch features: Change the wrist straps to suit the occasion
Apple has designed Watch so that the straps can be removed and replaced with different ones, if you wish.
The sport band is made from a rubbery, spongy material that’s sweat resistant – the perfect thing for a workout. Once you’ve done your laps of the park, or wherever it is you choose to work out, you can slip the band off and attach a metal link or leather one for work or leisure time.
We predict that third party manufacturers and internet artisans selling wares on Etsy are already busy sketching and working on ideas for bespoke straps. Pretty soon you’ll be able to get Watch straps fashioned from denim, day-glo PVC and dragon heartstring. We assume.
Best Apple Watch features: Use Apple Pay to buy stuff
Speaking of buying extra straps, this reminded us that Apple had imbued its Watches with NFC chips. This means you’ll be able to buy things with it using Apple Pay. Instead of tapping your phone next to an in store reader, you can tap your Watch instead.
You can also use the Watch to pay for stuff using virtual gift cards, at the likes of Starbucks.
Best Apple Watch features: Find your way around town with Maps
The modern city dweller has become used to stopping every five minutes to check their phone and make sure the course they’ve plotted for that important meeting or date is the correct one.
With Maps on your Watch, you can get turn by turn navigation without having to constantly fish for your phone. Series 2 onwards introduced GPS built in, so you don’t even need to rely on your phone’s sensors.
Best Apple Watch features: Use Watch as a remote trigger for photos or to check security cam footage
This feature is perfect if you want to position your iPhone for the ideal shot of yourself and your best buds, from afar. You can even use this to spy on friends, family members, housemates and workmates if you suspect them of constantly stealing your things and/or goofing off when they should be working/cleaning the goddamn kitchen.
Best Apple Watch features: Theatre Mode
If you want to be informed of any important incoming messages without disturbing those around you, check out the handy Theatre Mode buried away in the Control Center.
Theatre Mode will mute any 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.
Best Apple Watch features: Now where did my iPhone go?
Always losing your mobile down the back of the sofa, or inside of the dog? Never fear. Just pull up the Watch’s Control Center and you’ll notice a Find My iPhone button, which when tapped makes your Apple handset bleep and vibrate.
Best Apple Watch features: Tell your smart home when you’ll be walking through the door
This hasn’t been confirmed yet but we’d be very surprised if Apple didn’t find a way to bring HomeKit – it’s smart home ecosystem – and Apple Watch together.
The big deal with HomeKit is that you’ll be able to issue commands to and get notifications from smart home appliances like smart heaters, door locks and IP cameras from your phone.