A Beginner’s Guide to the Apple Watch


23rd January 2020


10 min


Patrick Richardson

The Apple Watch launched in the final week of April 2015‚ after being made available for pre-order online earlier in the month.

Those who got their hands on the amazing new wearable – or got it on their hand to be a tad more literal‚ were undoubtedly eager to discover the product’s capabalities. To help get Apple Watch owners started‚ we put together some expert advice on the best ways to interact with the device‚ as well as a list of essential apps made by outstanding mobile app developers that we think you might find useful.  

If you’re reading this‚ you probably already have a good idea about what the Apple Watch is‚ but nevertheless‚ let us give you a run down on what its first iteration can do:

  • Act as a second screen for all notifications that currently appear on your iPhone

  • Enable you to quickly read messages‚ and reply using short options‚ dictated text or voice clips

  • Send your current heartbeat to friends and family

  • Enable you to make and receive phone calls without having to take your phone out of your pocket

  • Quickly search for information using Siri

  • Enable you to plan routes and follow routes using the Maps app

  • Store and stream music from your iPhone‚ enabling you to listen via connected Bluetooth headphones

  • Pay for products and services using Apple Pay Keep track of your physical activities on a daily basis

These functionalities are built in to the Apple Watch‚ whilst thousands of iOS app developers have worked to bring new and exciting apps to the device‚ serving to further increase the functionality of the product.

Interacting With Your Apple Watch

Although Apple has pioneered the most simple and intuitive user interfaces to deliver the best possible user experience for consumers‚ it will take time for Apple Watch users to fully understand ways in which they can interact with the device. So we’ve got a few suggestions on how to use and interact with the Apple Watch:

Pull down to see notifications:When it comes to notifications‚ the Apple Watch essentially acts as a second screen for the iPhone. Apple Watch supported apps will be able to send notifications to the device‚ enabling you to see updates without having to use your iPhone.Pull up to see glances:Apple Watch enables you to create quick shortcuts to your favourite apps‚ using a feature called glances. Swiping up reveals basic single-screen versions of your favourite apps‚ which can be used to access relevant information quickly. If you want to view more information‚ simply tap the screen and it will take you to the Apple Watch app installed on your device.

Click on the digital crown:Apple’s reimagined watch crown allows you to interact with the watch in various ways. Clicking on it whilst in an app takes you back to the home screen. Doing so from the home screen takes you to the centre of your grid of apps. Clicking on it again takes you back to the watch face‚ and clicking from the watch face takes you to your grid of apps.

Click and hold the digital crown:Apple Watch enables you to access Siri in a similar way to the iPhone. Clicking and holding the digital crown activates Siri‚ which can then be used for various prescribed activities‚ such as asking Siri a question.Raise your wrist and say ‘Hey Siri’: Apple introduced the Hey Siri functionality to enable users to access Siri handsfree when connected to a power source. This same functionality is being carried over to the Apple Watch; simply raise the Watch and say “Hey Siri” to activate.Force touch:Apple Watch allows you to apply a force touch on the screen to activate a sub-set of menu options‚ which can enhance your interaction with the available apps.Click the side button:Apple Watch has only one button apart from the digital crown. By clicking this once‚ you can instantly access your quick contact list‚ allowing you to call‚ message‚ heartbeat or send an emoji to your friends and family.Double click the side button:Apple Watch enables you to pay for any purchases at a compatible Apple Pay terminal‚ using the Apple Pay system already available to iPhone 6 and 6+ users in the US. You can double click the side button to bring up Apple Pay and select your desired stored debit / credit card by swiping right and left. To pay‚ simply point your Apple Watch screen to the Apple Pay terminal.Click and hold the side button:Clicking and holding the side button on the Apple Watch takes you to a special menu‚ featuring three options. The first option is to power off the Apple Watch. The second enables you to go into a power reserve state‚ turning off all functionalities of the Apple Watch except the watch face‚ leaving you with a simple digital watch. The third option enables you to lock the Apple Watch.Double click the digital crown:Double clicking the digital crown will take you directly to the last used app on the Apple Watch. Double clicking again will take you back to the watch face screen.

Cover the watch with your palm:Placing your palm over the Apple Watch to cover it completely silences all kinds of notifications‚ including calls and messages. This is an easy way for you to mute calls and notifications when you are busy in a meeting.

These are just some of the useful ways in which you can interact with your Apple Watch – we hope it helps you to get to grips with your new device!

Essential Apple Watch Apps

Now that you know how to use the Apple Watch easily‚ let’s find some interesting apps for you to use. Listed below are a few apps that have been announced and adapted for the Apple Watch in the past few months.

Clear: Clear app for the iPhone was one of the simplest ways for users to create and manage lists and easily interact with them. They have worked to bring this same functionality to the Apple Watch‚ enabling users to quickly look at lists and interact with them while on the move.Gaia GPS: Gaia GPS is a mobile app that enables users to access offline maps in locations where there is no connectivity‚ ideal for adventure activities such as hiking‚ trekking‚ cycling and off-road driving. With activities that encourage you to disconnect from the bounds of technology and experience nature‚ this app fits perfectly with the Apple Watch; users can stow their iPhone away in their backpack and go handsfree into nature‚ whilst using maps on their watch to ensure they do not get lost.

Wdgts: Wdgts Apple Watch app enables you to quickly perform simple calculations and currency conversions on your watch. It also allows you to view different time zones and basic stats of your iPhone.Camera Plus: Camera Plus Apple Watch app enables you to remotely sync with your iPhone from a short distance and control the camera functionality‚ using it as a remote to take pictures and capture videos. It also displays timers and a live preview of the image being captured.Uber: Uber Apple Watch app enables you to order an Uber cab with a few taps on your Apple Watch. The app also lets you track your cab‚ displaying basic information about your driver and cab without needing to use your iPhone.Things: Things Apple Watch app enables you to view and interact with the list of items that you have created without having to pull out your iPhone.SPG: Starwood Hotels & Resorts: SPG Apple Watch app provides keyless entry to your booked room‚ and also allows you to keep track of your stay and account details on the watch itself.SeizAlarm: SeizAlarm is one app that is ideal for the Apple Watch in terms of functionality. It enables users to quickly alert their friends and family in the event of a seizure‚ without having to fumble for their iPhone in these critical moments.Slack: Users of this leading business communication service can load the app on their Apple Watch‚ to quickly look at and reply to conversations happening in their organisation.

Starbucks: If you are one of the millions of people who use the Starbucks app to pay for a coffee on the way to work‚ you’ll love the Apple Watch app. It enables you to find nearby Starbucks‚ and can direct you to the nearest location. It also allows you to keep track of your balance and access your Starbucks Rewards section.Shazam: The next time you hear a song playing in a store‚ in a bar‚ or on the radio‚ you don’t need to fumble around with your iPhone to open Shazam and listen to the song. You can now open the Shazam app on your Apple Watch and quickly identify it. The app also lets you read through the lyrics of the song on the Apple Watch itself.Keynote: Office presentations are going to feel far more relaxed and focused when you do not have to worry about controlling the flow of the presentation using your laptop or taking assistance from a colleague. With the Keynote Apple Watch app‚ you can control the flow of your presentation using the Apple Watch‚ without hovering over a laptop throughout the presentation.Knock: Unlocking your Mac is now a lot easier with the Knock Apple Watch app. All you need to do is walk up to your Mac‚ open the app on your Apple Watch and tap “Unlock” – no more typing your passwords.

Fandango Movies: Going to the movies has become even easier with the Fandango Apple Watch app. After purchasing a ticket using the iPhone app‚ this will become available on your Apple Watch. The app will also start a countdown timer‚ and give directions to the movie theatre. When you arrive‚ simply scan your QR code-based ticket at the theatre to gain access to the movie.

Yahoo Weather: Checking the weather just became easier with Yahoo Weather for the Apple Watch. This app lets you check sunrise and sunset timings‚ as well as graphs of various weather conditions. It also allows you to see weather forecasts for multiple locations within the Apple Watch app itself.1Password: 1Password has been the go-to app for most users to create‚ store and access passwords for the countless different online and offline accounts we have these days. Now all this information is available at the tap of a few buttons on the Apple Watch – no more holding someone on the call to look for your card details or passwords on your iPhone.Do Button Do Button was formerly one of the apps of the IFTTT ecosystem‚ but was later integrated into IFTTT’s main app. The Apple Watch app enables you to add three custom buttons with different functionalities to automate various activities. Having the functionality on the watch enables you to quickly perform an action without having to spend time opening the iPhone‚ searching for the app and performing the action.

These were just some of the essential Apple Watch apps available on launch. However app developers are updating old apps‚ as well as creating new and innovative ones‚ for the Apple Watch on a daily basis. If you want to look at more amazing apps that support the Apple Watch‚ head over to

Enjoy getting to grips with your new device! The hedgehog lab team.