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Many of us who preordered the Apple Watch are now waiting patiently for it to arrive, eyeing the UPS man with a combination of yearning and trepidation. After all, the future of computing could be somewhere inside that brown van.

When the UPS guy finally produces that Watch, and you’ve unboxed the thing, powered it up, and synced it with your iPhone, what apps should you install first? Apple says you now have more than 3,000 to choose from. But that little home screen has precious space for app icons. So we have some suggestions to help you weed through the App Store.

Apple Watch launch

The following list contains some no-brainers, but that’s just because we chose apps that you may end up using every day, not just when you travel or go out to a restaurant. You’ll want to download a small set of apps that will help make the Watch seem worth wearing every day.

With that stuff in mind, try these:

Dark Sky

Dark Sky is a great example of a thoughtfully designed app that takes advantage of the Watch’s features and the device’s spot on the body. Most of us want to know what’s going on with the day’s weather, and that’s way Dark Sky does. If important weather events are coming, the app will tell the Watch to give you a gentle tap on the wrist to let you know.

The main screen shows the weather in the next hour, with stats on wind, humidity, and visibility. Swiping to the right reveals pages with overviews of the next five days’ forecasts. These pages contain temperature highs and lows, a detailed summary, and a chart of hour-by-hour conditions throughout the day.

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If you use Twitter, you’ll find that the immediacy and brevity at the heart of the service go well with a wrist wearable. While plenty of Twitter smartphone apps are out there, the official Watch app looks well designed and useful. You can easily glance down at your news feed, and you can set it up so that the Watch gives you a gentle tap when certain kinds of tweets come in. You can also retweet or favorite tweets directly from the Watch face. Best of all, you can compose tweets on the Watch using the voice dictation feature.

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In general, the app pulls in Google Maps and all kinds of public transportation timelines to give you directions to wherever you want to go in the city by bus, train, bicycle, or by your own two feet. For public transportation and taxis, it tells you the cost. The Watch app uses the gadget’s haptic feedback engine to tap your wrist at important times, like when you’re on the bus and your stop is coming up.

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Using the app, you can quickly dictate notes, perform searches, and see recent content on your watch. You can find notes made near you or see content related to an upcoming meeting. You can also set reminders and check items off your list without taking out your phone. A swipe of the screen sends a note from your Watch to your iPhone, where you can finish reading it if you so desire.


The NPR One app puts selected news on your wrist. You can use your phone to create playlists of stories, segments, and regular news streams to play on the Watch. You can use your Apple Watch to search for specific shows using dictation, see story names and episodes, and control basic playback functions.

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Strava is one of the most used and respected smartphone apps for tracking runs and bike rides. While the Apple Watch app still depends on the paired iPhone for GPS, it can show you real-time stats like elevation gain, average speed, distance, and heart rate during your ride or run. Segment-by-segment updates give you details of different parts and aspects of your workout. And you get a trophy when you set a personal record.

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Waterminder is a super-simple app that helps you do something basic and important to your health and well-being: drink water. The app keeps track of your intake during the day, gives your current hydration levels, and, most important, puts you on a hydration schedule and reminds you when it’s time to water up.

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Of course, you app choices will depend a lot on what you do and what you need. If you travel a lot, you might want to download one of the airline check-in apps. But these seven general purpose apps are a good place to start.

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