Apple

How to get the most out of your Apple Watch's face with third-party complications

The Apple Watch is an impressive device-if you know how to use it. Find out how complications let you get the most important info just by raising your wrist.

Apple Watch Sport
Image: Apple

Apple's WatchOS 3 is coming in just a few months, but that doesn't mean you should keep living with a smartwatch that doesn't give you everything you want. Whether you're traveling for business, working at the office, or trying to unburden your brain on the weekends, the Apple Watch can do it—with a bit of setup.

SEE: Apple Watch: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)

I love my Apple Watch. I've had it for around a year now, and I finally have my homescreen configured to deliver all the info I want without having to press a single button. Granted, my wants are simple: I need the local weather WITH humidity, the date, my battery level, and my activity levels for the day.

Your needs may vary, but make no mistake: there are plenty of ways to get what you want right on your watchface.

Things have to get complicated

If you want more data at a glance you need to master watch face complications, which are anything on your watch face that isn't a clock. With the release of WatchOS 2 last September Apple started allowing third-party developers to create complications, which is when the Apple Watch's capabilities really took off.

As with any new technology, there are plenty of people who only use the most basic features of the Apple Watch, leaving them with a really expensive device on their wrist that isn't serving its true purpose. If you want to maximize the value of your watch face you need to learn to use those complications.

Customizing your Apple Watch face

Say what you will about the Apple Watch, but it's nothing if not easy to use. Adding complications is simple, only requiring a few basic steps.

For this example I'm sticking with the Modular watch face. It displays the most info, and if you're looking for easy-to-read this is the one for you.

  1. Start by Force Touching the center of the screen. The watch face selector will pop up, allowing you to scroll through all the available faces. Choose the modular one and tap on Customize.
  2. Swipe from right to left to switch to the complication customizing screen. You'll know you're there when you see a bunch of boxes surrounding all the spaces on the face.
  3. From there, click on the complication you wish to change. Use the digital crown to scroll through all your complication options and choose the one that's right for you.
  4. Once you're satisfied push the digital crown twice to return to the home screen. Time to enjoy your brand new watch face!

complicationsetup.jpg

Set up multiple faces for different occasions

There are only so many spaces on your watch for complications, but don't worry: you can set up multiple copies of the same watch face for different occasions. Want to hone in on important travel info while on the road? There's one. How about getting rid of all the work-related stuff during the weekend? There's another.

Getting the most out of your Apple Watch face means customizing it to suit your needs at any given moment. Thankfully Apple thought of that.

SEE: How to back up and restore your Apple Watch (TechRepublic)

Make life simpler with these 10 complications

There are a lot of apps offering complications, and the list keeps growing. Here are 10 that stand out among the crowd:

  • CARROT Weather - For a modest fee you can have completely customizable weather complications. If you want to see particular weather info at a glance this is your best bet.
  • iTranslate - The complication for this app provides quick phrases that change based on the time of day. Tap the complication to speak, and get an instant translation on your wrist.
  • CityMapper - With nearly 30 cities worth of public transit data built in, you'll be able to plan routes all around major cities. It gives step-by-step info on getting from A to B, all on the homescreen of your watch.
  • Workflow - Think of this as a way to script actions from your wrist. Workflow can perform multiple commands in multiple apps, allowing you to execute complex actions with a single tap.
  • Omnifocus 2 - At $39.99 this app definitely isn't cheap, but it packs a bunch of features. The watch complication is simple—it tells you how many tasks are due today, how many you have pending, and which task is due next.
  • Lose It - Calorie counting can be the key to losing weight. The Lose It watch complication is simple: it shows the number of calories you have left for the day, or the number you're over. Log the food you eat to the iPhone app and you'll easily be able to tell if you can have that extra snack.
  • DataMan Next - Have a limited data plan? This complication features a color-coded symbol to let you know how close you are to going over.
  • App In The Air - Most airlines offer an app that streamlines your flying experience, and this one mashes them all together. Track flights, see gate info, and get updated on delays right from your watch face.
  • Cheatsheet - Do you forget simple info like pins and passwords? Cheatsheet allows you to create custom complications that just show the text you need to jog your memory. They'll be context-free too, so no one but you need know what that beast of a password is for.
  • Just Press Record - This complication is just a picture of a microphone. Tap it and it starts to record from the watch's mic. The record time is only constrained by how much iCloud space you have, making this a great app for journalists, conference attendees, or those who just want to make quick voice notes.

To see more details and screenshots of the top five complications on this list, check out the gallery here.

Also see

About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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