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Apple Watch explained: Tutorials and guides for your smartwatch

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The Apple Watch is one of the most feature-rich smartwatches available, and here at Wareable we're keen to make sure you get the most from your new smartwatch.

It can be a steep learning curve, but there's so much potential to unlock with the Watch, which is why we've penned this complete guide.

From your first hour with the Apple Watch to loading it up with essential apps, boosting battery life, setting up Apple Pay and pimping it out with new straps and bands, we've got you covered.

Got any questions? Let us know in the comments below.

What does the Apple Watch do?

Apple Watch explained: Tutorials and guides for your smartwatch

It's one of the common questions among people looking to buy the Apple Watch for the first time – what does it actually do?

Well, a lot more than just offering you the chance to read text messages and answer calls on your wrist, rather than your phone, which is the main feature everybody knows.

  • Get messages and notifications on the wrist
  • Fitness tracking
  • Workout tracking
  • Heart rate monitoring
  • ECG monitoring (on Watch Series 4 only)
  • GPS tracking of workouts (on GPS versions)
  • Make calls and receive messages away from your phone (LTE versions with data plan)
  • Turn-by-turn navigation
  • Siri commands – alarms, timers, reminders
  • Display tickets and boarding passes
  • Tell the time

Which Apple Watch is best for you?

There are now four models of Apple Watch on sale – and within those there are multiple options too.

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the latest version and comes in two new size options - 40mm and 44mm. There's LTE/GPS and GPS options and there's special edition versions in the shape of the Apple Watch Nike+ and the Apple Watch Hermès.

The Apple Watch Series 3 comes in two flavours, with LTE and just plain GPS. It' also available with GPS or GPS and LTE. There's also an Apple Watch Nike+ edition of the Series 3 too.

To your great surprise, the concept of Head Mounted Display is also not a new idea. The first head-mounted display was developed around 1960’s. the Telesphere mask was the first example of a head-mounted display, which provided 3D stereoscopic and wide vision with sound.

The Apple Watch Series 1 is the budget version, and comes without GPS or LTE – making it the choice for users that aren't too bothered with accurate outdoor sports tracking. It's no longer sold by Apple, but can still be picked up from other retailers.

You can still also pick up bargain Apple Watch Series 2 smartwatches. Like the Series 1 though, these are no longer officially sold by Apple. There's plenty on Amazon, however, and you still get GPS tracking for a low price.

40mm vs 44mm: How to pick the right Apple Watch size?

Once you've decided which model is best for you, the next step is figuring out which size you need. If you're looking at the new Watch Series 4, then as mentioned you've got two new sizes to pick from. That's 40mm or 44mm. All older Watch models come in either 38mm or 42mm size options.

The Watch Series 4 40mm option is definitely one for smaller wrists and the 44mm for anyone that wants something a bit bigger. For the older size options, Apple itself recommends the 38mm for wrists measuring 130-200mm, while the bigger option is better suited to 140-210mm.

If you want to get an idea of what the two different sizes look like on your wrist before buying, there is a way to do it. Virtually. If you download the Apple Store app to your iPhone and toggle to the Apple Watch and pick your size, you can lay your phone on your wrist to get a sense of how it'll look.

How to set up your Apple Watch

Apple Watch explained: Tutorials and guides for your smartwatch

When you take your Apple Watch out of the box, it's the same as everyone else's. What makes your smartwatch personal is the style and the apps, which mean your Apple Watch will be unique to your needs.

Check out our guide on how to set up your Apple Watch.

Find out what's new in watchOS 5

Apple Watch explained: Tutorials and guides for your smartwatch

watchOS 5 offers some of the biggest changes to the Apple Watch experience, overhauling notifications, the new walkie talkie mode, and adding a bunch of new health and workout features such as automatic exercise detection.

Check out our guide to everything you need to know about watchOS 5.

How to use the Apple Watch

Apple Watch explained: Tutorials and guides for your smartwatch

The Apple Watch has an undeniably steep learning curve, and the first 24 hours can be a little frustrating for the uninitiated. Check out our guide on how to use the Apple Watch, including all the new features and interface tweaks from watchOS 5.

The First Head-Mounted Displays – The Telesphere Mask and the Headsight. You might think that strapping a display on a person’s head is a relatively new idea, but it is not. The first head-mounted displays were developed as early as the 1960s. The Telesphere Mask was the first example of a head-mounted display, which provided 3D stereoscopic and wide vision with stereo sound. However, the device lacked certain immersion, because of it being a non-interactive medium. In 1961 two Philco Corporation engineers, Comeau and Bryan, came up with the Headsight. A head-mounted display, much like the Telesphere Mask, the Headsight featured magnetic motion tracking technology, which was connected to a close circuit camera. While the goggles can be named a precursor to modern virtual reality technology, they were not developed for entertainment purposes. Instead, they were developed for the military with the idea that a person would be able to immerse themselves in the remote viewing of dangerous situations.

The best Apple Watch apps

Apple Watch explained: Tutorials and guides for your smartwatch

If there's one major differentiator between the Apple Watch and the competition, it's the breadth of apps. Just like the iPhone, Apple has left the killer features of the Apple Watch up to its army of developers.

If you've only got five minutes, our favourites are…

  • Strava
  • ESPN
  • CARROT Fit
  • Streaks
  • PCalc
  • Just Press Record
  • Citymapper

If you're looking for more ways trick out your smartwatch, check out our guide to the best Apple Watch apps – also check out some of our other round-ups.

Apple Watch running apps

Apple Watch sleep tracking apps

Apple Watch golf apps

Apple Watch cycling apps

Apple Watch Actvity app and Workout app explained

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As the Apple Watch has matured, it's found its niche as a superb health and fitness watch. Whether you're keen to live a healthier lifestyle, or want to step up to running, cycling or the gym, the Apple Watch is a powerful workout companion.

Apple Watch as a fitness tracker

The Apple Watch is a very good fitness tracker and can also track workouts – and if you have a Series 4 with GPS, it can replace your standard fitness watch.

The activity app keeps tabs on movement, calories burned and standing time, and you're encouraged to 'close the rings' in order to make your daily goals. There's also a Breathe app, which encourages mindfulness, and taking time out of your day.

All stats are viewable on the watch, are tracked within the Activity app on your iPhone, and populate the Apple Health app, too.

Heart rate tracking

Heart rate tracking has been part of the Apple Watch since the original, but it's only since watchOS 4 that it's turned into a powerful tool.

Heart rate activity is now tracked throughout the day, and you're able to keep tabs on resting heart rate, which is a big indicator of improving fitness, and also tiredness and stress as well.

What's more, the heart rate monitor can keep tabs on your ticker and alert you to elevated bpm, which could be dangerous. Check out our full Apple Watch heart rate monitor guide for more.

Apple Watch for workouts

The Workout app is a different beast, and enables you to track a bunch of different activities, from running and cycling to indoor workouts (which essentially just keep tabs on your heart rate, calories and time spent).

There's also a host of third-party fitness apps, which can now make use of in-built sensors including GPS and heart rate. Examples include Strava, and other big names, such as Endomondo and Nike Run Club.

The VR Cardboard launched by Google was a Side Project developed by David Coz and Damien Henry. They created this project during the Google’s “Innovation Time Off” program in which developers were encouraged to spend 20 percent of their time on the things of their interest.

You can read our full explainer on the Apple Watch fitness tracking and workout modes in our complete guide.

Essential Apple Watch tips and tricks

Apple Watch guide

There's so much more to the Apple Watch than meets the eye, and there's a host of tweaks and hidden features hidden under the hood. Try these out for size…

  • Ping your iPhone
  • Turn on elevated heart rate notifications
  • Chain together your workouts
  • Unlock your Mac from your Watch
  • Check your data usage
  • Change the wrist-raise action
  • Use pictures as watch faces

Check out our round-up of Apple Watch tips and tricks and find out how you can make it work your way.

And why not try out these other ideas:

How to use Apple Watch maps to navigate

While Google Maps has been cut from the platform, Apple Maps is a good experience on Apple Watch - with turn-by-turn directions and local points of interest.

Unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch

Bored of typing in your passcode? Your Apple Watch can be used to open your iPhone and Mac seamlessly. Just enable Mac unlock within the Security preferences. For iPhone, head to Settings > Passcode and switch on the option there.

Measure your heart rate with the Apple Watch

You can access real-time heart rate data on your Apple Watch, but the powerful stuff comes from the analysis. Check the Activity app for details of your bpm throughout the day, and the Apple Health app for resting heart rate.

Get in control with Siri on your Apple Watch

Pressing in the Digital Crown will summon Siri and you can take advantage of Apple's digital assistant on your wrist. It's a quick way to set things like timers and reminders, and you can also take advantage of smart home control, too.

The best Apple Watch faces

How to use the Apple Watch: The essential guide to your smartwatch

Complications are one of the best features on Apple's smartwatch. These tiny little widgets can be added to the watch face to offer some Watch customisation. But getting the right combination of watch face and complication is not the easiest. Thankfully, we've done the hard work for you and picked out the best Apple Watch faces and complication combos.

Top Apple Watch bands

The extreme prices of official Apple Watch straps means that most of us are rocking the basic silicon band – but the third-party strap market is growing all the time.

With the use of Oculus, people are able to travel via virtual reality without actually having to pack, fly, and spend the money on a real trip.

Check out our round-up of third-party Apple Watch straps and pick yourself up a new stylish band at a fraction of the price. In fact, why not buy two – and swap dependent on the outfit. And if you're looking for a bit more, including cases and docks, check out the best Apple Watch accessories.

Set up Apple Pay on Apple Watch

Apple Watch guide

Apple Pay is one of the Apple Watch's killer features, and now it's available in a host of countries around the world.

It's a great way to pay, especially for runners, cyclists and commuters who don't have to reach for their wallet or take their card out on a workout.

Our Apple Pay guide shows you how to add a card to your Apple Watch and pay safely and securely. And don't forget Pay's peer-to-peer equivalent, Apple Pay Cash.

How to add music to your Apple Watch

Apple Watch guide

Apple Music enables users to stream and listen to a library of nearly 30 million songs, and now it's available directly on Apple Watch. If you've got an LTE-enabled Apple Watch Series 3 or Series 4, you'll be able to stream music to your heart's content. You'll just need a pair of Bluetooth headphones. If you're not rocking the cellular Apple Watch, you can also sync over albums and playlists and control music on your iPhone. To get the full details on how to do that, check out our guide to adding music to your Apple Watch.

How Apple Watch cellular (LTE) works

How to use the Apple Watch: The essential guide to your smartwatch

So, you've got the Apple Watch Series 4 (or 3) and have the red Digital Crown to prove it. You're ready to cut the cord and fly free, but don't know how to get started. Well, you can start by checking out guide on how to get LTE on the Apple Watch Series 4.

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