Don’t be scared by the word “complication.” The complications you find on the Apple Watch can make your life much simpler, as they are basically bite-sized versions of the full apps you normally open through the home screen grid.
Apple Watch complications are a great way to get information from your favorite iPhone apps at a glance on your Apple Watch. With the added display real estate on the Apple Watch Series 4, complications can now do and show more than ever before.
A good complication relays enough information that you won’t even need to open the app. If you do, it will get right to business without requiring any other steps. These are the complications that have the best chance of making your Apple Watch experience less, well, complicated.
Here we are introducing several Apple Watch complications that are worth a place on your primary watch face.
Apple Watch Complications
1. Dark Sky
Dark Sky is one of the best hyper-local weather apps available. It provides up-to-the-minute weather for your specific location that’s almost always on the money.
The Dark Sky complication shows you the most important weather information on your watch face. Every option gives you the current temperature, as well as up-to-date weather conditions. Larger complications also include information such as temperature highs and lows, and even sunset times.
Download: Dark Sky ($4)
2. “iTranslate” Is One of Apple Watch Complications
Traveling to a foreign country? Having the wonderful iTranslate on your wrist feels a bit like having one of the universal translators from Star Trek. It recommends a language based on your location as well as useful simple phrases that show up on the large complication, but you can also press it and ask for specific translations.
After that, the new phrase will stay visible for a bit. In the smaller version, it merely gives you quick access to the app, but it will at least tell you which language it’s set to. There’s a large array of languages to choose from, too, ranging from French to Afrikaans.
Download: iTranslate (Free, subscription available)
3. Just Press Record
Using your iPhone to take notes or dictation is fine, but you have to stop what you’re doing, take out your iPhone, and start tapping away. With Just Press Record, your iPhone can stay where it is during the recording process.
Simply tap the red circle and your Apple Watch will start recording almost instantly. Everything you record is not only synced straight to the iPhone app, but also transcribed.
Download: Just Press Record ($5)
4. Citymapper (Free)
Citymapper Transit Navigation is an invaluable navigation app if you rely on public transportation in a major city, and its Apple Watch complication is almost as essential for getting you where you need to go. The smaller complication lets you know when you’ll arrive at your destination, while the larger one lets you know the next step you’ll need to take on your journey (such as a transfer for a different train).
Citymapper works great for car trips, too, but its Apple Watch support keeps you from constantly dragging out your phone when you are heading somewhere on foot.
5. “Activity Tracker” One of Apple Watch Complications
One of the big selling points of the Apple Watch is its fitness tracking capabilities. It’s a little bizarre, then, that there’s no native way of displaying your step count on your watch face.
Thankfully, there’s an app to fill in the gap. ActivityTracker takes data directly from your Apple Health app and lets you display your step count as a complication,. This is a real game-changer when you’re trying to hit a specific step goal, as you’re able to monitor your progress in real time as you work out.
You can also choose to display calories, distance, active time, and floors climbed.
Download: ActivityTracker (Free, premium version available)
5. Spotify (Free)
I’m reluctant to put Spotify’s newish complication on here because there’s not much to it. The smallest one only shows the logo and acts as a springboard to the app, while the larger one just says, “Tap to play music.” Unlike its counterpart for Apple Music, it won’t even tell you which song is playing.
But if you are heavily invested in Spotify, this may be all you need. The shortcut quickly opens the app, giving you immediate access to your playlists and the typical playback controls. Considering how often I use Spotify, this convenience outweighs any coolness factor (although I recommend only using the small version).
6. Things 3
There are a lot of great to-do apps for iPhone. Things 3 stands as one of the best, and its Apple Watch complications make it even better.
The complications can show a progress bar to indicate how many tasks you have completed for a day. Some faces will display the next task in your list; the Modular face can show as many as three. You can also mark tasks as complete directly from your watch.
Download: Things 3 ($10)
7. BatteryPhone (Free)
You will find several good apps for checking your iPhone’s battery like on your Apple Watch, but my favorite is BatteryPhone. It tells you the status of your iPhone’s battery, yes, but it also tells you how much battery life your Apple Watch has left—and it does this for both the large and small versions of the complication. To my knowledge, no other battery life app on the App Store does this.
In addition, it will notify you when your iPhone is fully charged (and vice versa on the iPhone with the Apple Watch). The catch is that the interface is kind of ugly and that—thanks to limitations from Apple—you can’t get updates more than every 30 minutes.
Another great health feature of the Apple Watch is the built-in heart rate monitor. The native Heart Rate complication does a good job of showing your current heart rate, but HeartWatch takes this a step further.
You can see your current heart rate as well as your minimum and maximum heart rates for the day. Some complications include your average heart rate too, which is great for fitness enthusiasts. There’s also a color-coding system—if the ring around your complication is red, it means your heart rate is elevated.
This complication sits nicely with some of the best Apple Watch fitness apps on the market—it will monitor your heart while you sleep, work out, and even while you rest, too.
Download: HeartWatch ($3)
9. Shazam (Free)
Shazam tells you which song you are listening to when it’s able to hear a few seconds of audio, and its complication lets you turn it on within seconds.
Good thing, too, as I hate it when a song ends by the time I find my Shazam app on my iPhone or Apple Watch. With this complication, it’s always in reach (although it’s only available in the small “corner” format with the logo).
10. One of the Other Apple Watch Complications Is “WaterMinder”
If you are concerned that you don’t drink enough water, WaterMinder makes for a great addition to your favorite Apple Watch face. You can set up a target of how much water you want to drink and count it off throughout the day, all from your watch.
The smaller complications give you another ring you can aim to close by the end of the day. Larger ones give you a percentage of your total in addition to the amount remaining for that day. Tap on the complication and you can add one of the preset amounts, or input one of your own.
Download: WaterMinder ($5)
Streaks is a to-do list app that focuses on tracking how many days in a row you complete each task. It’s a great way to motivate yourself as once you’ve built up a long streak, you don’t want to break it.
The simplest complication shows six dots that turn from orange to gray when you have completed each task. You can mark a task as complete directly on your watch, as well as starting the timers for duration-based tasks. Larger complications will also show the name of an incomplete task on the face.
Download: Streaks ($5)
12. “Fantastical 2” Is One of the Other Apple Watch Complications
Fantastical 2 is already one of the best calendar apps for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. With the Apple Watch complication, you can be sure that you’ll never miss another appointment again.
At first glance, it appears quote similar to Apple’s Calendar app, allowing you to see the date as well as the name of appointments on larger complications. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find that there’s a lot more on offer with Fantastical 2.
You can see how long your current event is going to last, even in small complications which show the information as a slowly-shrinking ring. Most useful of all, tapping on the complication followed by a force touch allows you to add a new appointment by voice command.
Download: Fantastical 2 ($5)
13. Pokémon Go (Free)
Pokémon Go’s complication reminds us that Niantic’s popular augmented reality game doubles as a decent exercise app. In both the large and small versions, the complication shows how much farther you need to walk before your next Pokémon egg hatches.
The bigger version gives you specifics, while the short version shows an Activity app-style ring that slowly completes the closer you get to your goal. Glancing down at it sometimes inspires me to “go” the extra mile (or at least the long way) when I’m heading somewhere.
Complications have always been one of the most practical features of the Apple Watch, thanks to the increased functionality they offer. They help to make your smartwatch even smarter, as well as your life a little easier.