How to Install Apps on Apple Watch

Jun 29, 2015 - 1 Comment

How to add and install apps onto Apple Watch The Apple Watch allows apps to be installed onto the device, but unlike the iPhone, iPad, or Mac, there isn’t really an App Store specific to Apple Watch with the traditional ‘get’ and ‘buy’ download buttons. Instead, installing apps onto Apple Watch is handled through the paired iPhone, which makes sense given that most Apple Watch apps rely on data and connectivity through the paired device.


To install an app onto the Apple Watch, the app itself must support Apple Watch. This is easily identified in the iOS App Store by looking under the download button for the “Offers Apple Watch App” line, indicating that, by installing (or updating) the app on iPhone, you’ll be able to get the accompanying Apple Watch app as well.

Installing an App onto Apple Watch from iPhone

For this example, we’re going to install the app called Sky Guide onto the Apple Watch. You’ll need the Apple Watch and the paired iPhone to complete the app install process:

  1. From the paired iPhone, install or update the app you want to place onto Apple Watch – this is done through the traditional App Store in iOS
  2. Open the Apple Watch app, then go to “My Watch”
  3. Scroll down in the settings panel until you see the name of the app in question (for example, Sky Guide) and tap on it
  4. To install the app onto Apple Watch, flip the toggle next to “Show App on Apple Watch” to the ON position, this will trigger the “Installing…” process
  5. Installing an app onto Apple Watch from iPhone

  6. Decide whether to show the app on Glances or not by toggling ‘Show in Glances’ to be ON or OFF as desired (ON is often the best)
  7. When finished installing, find the app on Apple Watch screen
  8. New app installed onto Apple Watch

Now you just need to return to the Home Screen of Apple Watch, tap on the freshly installed apps icon, and you’ll be using the newly installed Apple Watch app. If you enabled the Glances view for the app, you’ll find it when you swipe up from the clock screen as part of the glances.

Third party app installed onto Apple Watch, seen in Glances

Most Apple Watch apps are currently dependent on the paired iPhone for data retrieval and data transmission, which means if the iPhone is out of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi range the apps functionality may be limited. This will likely change in time as Apple Watch gains native apps and, perhaps in future hardware versions, a cellular capable version as well. This is why you need to use the paired iPhone for tasks like installing updates, apps, and even customizing individual settings on the Apple Watch, like the quick replies or Apple Pay cards.

Keep in mind the Apple Watch app ecosystem is fairly new, and while there are already tons of apps available for the device, many of the existing ones have limited use or aren’t yet really optimized for how Watch is used. Nonetheless, developers will continue to improve and design for the Watch, and it’s still fun to explore what apps are out there. The Watch itself has 8GB of storage, which is plenty to hold a ton of apps and other data.

Instagram app on an Apple Watch

Uninstalling an app from Apple Watch is simply a matter of going back to the My Watch settings > app name > untoggling “Show App on Apple Watch”.

It’s possible this will change in a future WatchOS update, but for the time being, you’ll handle apps on your iPhone.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Apple Watch, Tips & Tricks

One Comment

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  1. York says:

    This puzzled me for a while when I first got Apple Watch, apps would appear and I would not know how. Most you don’t want on your Watch though. I haven’t found that many useful Apple Watch apps, most are just kind of ho-hum or not useful at all. I do like the Sky Guide app you have in the screenshots, it is pretty interesting. Uber is a good app too, it is useful.

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