According to Fortune magazine, Apple sold 18 million apple watches in 2017 which is a 50% increase on the previous year and the highest number of shipments for any wearable vendor.
With an increase in Apple watch users it follows that available apps for Apple watch will continue to grow and, whereas in the past watch app developers thought it sufficient to simply port their phone apps across, it has now dawned on them that in order to be noticed and remain relevant, they must adapt to meet the somewhat different requirements users have of a watch app.
Design is key and the app must distil the essence of it’s intent. There is no room for clutter and it must be useful, otherwise…cheerio.
We’ve separated the wheat from the chaff for the travel apps for Apple watch, and list out our staples here:
1. App in the air
This app touts itself as a PA for all your flight arrangements from check-in to arrival and bag collection. The Apple Watch app tracks your flight with real time data, times till check in/gates close, gate and security wait times, and even which belt to collect your luggage from. You will never have to fumble around for your glasses (for looking at the information screens) or your iphone again when you need to reference your flight info as it will all be right there on your wrist. It also works off-line via sms updates.
Great app which quickly gives you multiple public transport options in real-time (bus, train, ferry, bike, teleport(!)) to get you from A to B. Supported for numerous cities, it provides very clear, foolproof (it shows the direction you’re phone is pointed and ‘taptic’ feedback prompts you when to get off bus/train/ferry ) instructions. It’s fabulous on the iphone, and even on the watch it provides all the essential directions, change points and even warnings if there’s a traffic jam, e.g. “get off at the next stop to avoid delay”.
Essential, whether you know the city or not.
If you forgot to download CityMapper, then ITranslate will most definitely come in handy for asking locals how to get to your hotel or airbnb. Great for when you need something translated quickly, just speak a phrase at the watch, and the watch will transcribe it (so you can check you’re asking what you intended) before translating it in writing with the option to listen to the translation via speaker. The app is great on the iphone and very focused on the watch app, as it should be.
A nifty little currency converter that’s been well designed for the small interface that is your watch face. There’s zero clutter, and changing the amount that you want to convert is a twiddle on the digital crown and/or a swipe left or right to increase or decrease by a decimal point. Rates are updated hourly which will be sufficient for most users. Great for when you want to check that you’re not about to spend a week’s wages on a joke souvenir but we would still recommend familiarising yourself with the local currency and ordering it well in advance of touchdown. See our top recommendations for travel money options.
5. Day One
The perfect way to make a travel journal in the digital age in that you can record random thoughts and observations on the go. Simply, talk to the watch face and it transcribes as you do this and instantly sends to your iphone. The beauty of this is the metadata that is automatically recorded – time, date, location, temperature, weather, music playing. Another benefit for some will be the integration with photos and social media e.g. instagram, fb, twitter so that you can incorporate any activity from those feeds should you want to. If you are a bit more old school and prefer to save some time for enjoying your surroundings, keep it simple through photos and transcriptions.
At the end of a journal, you can share your journals through exporting (pdf, html, json) or you can even print a bound book version of it. The premium subscription version, which is not cheap – A$39.99 per annum, allows unlimited journals and photos
If you are visiting countries in multiple time zones, keep a tab of when will be a good time to call your friends or colleagues using Circa. It’s the most minimal of the apps but does that one thing through a very nice simple interface.
7. Carrot Weather
Whether you’re at home or travelling, being able to plan activities for the next few days with some awareness of what the heavens might have in store is handy. Carrot offers weather forecasting charged with some dry humour which is delivered by a malevolent bot.
8. Just Press record
Just Press Record is a mobile audio recorder that automatically sends recordings to your other devices for transcription and icloud storing. Perfect for on the go epic musings, observations, or just random thoughts as there is unlimited recording time. It has pause capability, can punctuate, so you could even write an entire war and peace, should you be so inclined. Particularly useful if you are a writer.
Wherever you find yourself travelling to on planet earth, equipped and aided as you may be with your futuristic watch, spare a thought for the ancient travellers who navigated through their journeys using only the stars. The Nightsky app is a wonderful companion for this activity and is mesmerising in it’s beauty too. It will not only show you the constellations around you but will also alert you to when/which stars and planets are setting or rising in your current location. Just lift your wrist to the sky and you will be enchanted with what your watch unveils. Constellations, satellites, planets, and a wealth of information that can be drilled down into is quite literally at your fingertips. Impressive.
This just about sums up the current apple watch apps that we consider to be the best travel companions in 2018. There are a few apps that have disappeared in recent upgrades to the iOS which we were disappointed to learn, e.g. Tripadvisor, Instagram, Slack, Twitter and a bunch more, but the bunch above, more than compensate for these.