Essential Apple Watch Apps

I absolutely love my Apple Watch. I’ve worn it every day since I purchased my Series 0 in December 2015, with the only exception being a handful of times when I’ve gone on vacation and didn’t want to hassle with another device to charge every night.

The Apple Watch has become an essential part of my everyday-carry. When I’m not wearing it, I still find myself looking toward my wrist for the time or to glance at the weather. I just feel lost without it.

But the Watch isn’t just an important part of my life because of complications, notifications, or having the time on my wrist. Those are certainly the best parts of the experience, but despite what the naysayers would have you believe, there’s some great third-party software available for the platform and I’d like to share some of my favorites.

Vekt on Apple Watch
Vekt: A gorgeous weight tracking application for Apple Watch. The Watch component is about as simple and minimalist as it gets. When launched, it displays your most recent weigh-in, spinning the crown will adjust the number and display a button for saving the new reading. Once saved, the application will display an appropriate emoji depending on whether you lost or gained weight.

The iPhone app adds the ability to input a target weight goal and view your most recent readings on a simple graph at the bottom of the screen. There are plenty of other weight tracking applications available for iPhone and Apple Watch, but Vekt is my favorite. It features one of the most beautiful icons on my Watch and offers just the right amount of functionality for my needs.

WaterMinder on Apple Watch
WaterMinder: Just a few months ago, I started keeping track of my water intake. I’ve spent most of my life without proper hydration and it was time for me to get it under control. WaterMinder makes it easy to keep track of my intake and live a healthier life as a result.

On iPhone you can configure WaterMinder with shortcuts for your most common drink sizes, set a daily goal, and view detailed history and achievements. On the Watch, WaterMinder let’s you quickly input drinks throughout the day and monitor your progress toward your goal.

In the app’s settings, you can also choose from two different Watch layouts and complication designs. I prefer the ring-style design because it let’s me see the icons I’ve chosen for my shortcuts, but the default allows for quickly adding a drink without the need to scroll.

Cardiogram on Apple Watch
Cardiogram: This heart health app can show your most recent heart rate reading in the app’s complication, display your readings for the day on a graph, and allow you to record a continuous heart rate reading whenever you want. My wife has been having some heart issues recently, occasional rapid heart rates when she’s inactive. Cardiogram gives her an easy way to look back at her readings and monitor any abnormalities that she can discuss with her doctor.

On the iPhone, Cardiogram lets you pull further back on your heart rate data to see larger trends and compare your statistics against the rest of Cardiogram’s users. This application is the perfect companion for anyone concerned about their heart’s health.

Carrot Weather on Apple Watch
Carrot: This is the best weather app for Apple Watch, by far. It features incredible information density while continuing to be readable. And the app’s complication is no slouch — displaying both the temperature and current conditions. If you want the weather forecast on your wrist, Carrot Weather is the best app for the job.

Deliveries on Apple Watch
Deliveries: An application that helps you keep track of all your deliveries. Add tracking numbers to the iPhone app and you can quickly glance at their status on Apple Watch. I’ve used Deliveries on my iPhone for years and have had it installed on my Apple Watch since day one — it’s the best delivery tracking app available.

Things on Apple Watch
Things: With Things on Apple Watch, you can check off items on your to do list, add new items using dictation, or move tasks to a later date. It’s a surprisingly full-featured application on the Apple Watch — there isn’t much you can’t do on the Watch that you can do on iPhone.

Typically, I would consider it a bad thing for an Apple Watch app to offer so much, but Things pulls it off quite well. The interface is kept so simple with access to the most important things right on the main view — checking off items and adding new ones — that I often forget that I have the ability to add notes and deadlines to a task or move them to a later date. Those options stay out of your way until you need them, which is key on a device with such a small screen.

PCalc on Apple Watch
PCalc: I’ve tried a handful of calculator apps for Apple Watch and it’s not even close, PCalc is the best option available. I use the application almost every week, when my wife and I go grocery shopping, to help us stay within our budget. But it doesn’t just offer the usual addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division operations, it also features robust unit conversion and tip calculation.

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Hacking Mint to Recognize Modern Operating Systems

Despite Shaun Inman’s announcement late last year that he was suspending sales and support for Mint, I’ve continued to use the software to track visitor statistics on Initial Charge. In the eight years since I first installed Mint on my server, I haven’t found anything that offers the same level of simplicity, clean design, and overall peace of mind about where my stats data is stored.

I’ll continue to keep my eye out for alternatives, but nothing’s unseated Mint yet. Piwik and Tiny Stats came close. But no one I know that has tried Piwik has stuck with it and when I tried Tiny Stats, I ran across a few bugs that soured the experience for me. I’ll probably move to something new eventually, but I don’t foresee that happening anytime soon.

UserAgent 007 on iPhone

With my continued use of Mint, there is one bit of code that will have to be updated regularly — the list of recognized operating systems in the User Agent 007 pepper. For those who are unfamiliar with Mint, the software has support for plugins, called “Pepper”, that can enhance the core software’s features. User Agent 007 keeps track of what browser and operating systems your visitors are using, as well as the display resolution and whether or not they have Flash installed (which is far less useful in 2017 than it was in 2007).

In order for UserAgent 007 to recognize operating systems newer than Windows 8 and Mountain Lion — which were added in the last update — you’ll have to edit the class.php file located in mint/pepper/shauninman/useragent007/. I highly suggest making a backup of this file just in case something goes wrong.

Windows Versions Array in UserAgent 007

Within class.php, you’ll want to look for an array that tells Mint how to determine what version of Windows the visitor is using. If you’ve never edited this file before, the top entry in the array should be Windows 8. To add support for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, simply add the following two items above the Windows NT 6.2 entry, just as I’ve done in the image above.

'Windows NT 10.0' => '10',
'Windows NT 6.3' => '8.1',

macOS Versions Array in UserAgent 007

Scrolling down a bit further within class.php, you should find an array with versions of macOS listed. The last one should be Mountain Lion. To add support for newer versions of macOS, be sure to add a comma after the Mountain Lion entry and add the following five items, just as I’ve done in the image above.

'10.9' => 'Mavericks',
'10.10' => 'Yosemite',
'10.11' => 'El Capitan',
'10.12' => 'Sierra',
'10.13' => 'High Sierra'

Unfortunately, this doesn’t retroactively change the statistics that have already been recorded. But eventually, the “Unknown” listing will be replaced in your short-term platform stats with properly identified operating system names. And without officially released updates to the UserAgent 007 pepper, as long as you’re still using Mint, this process will have to be repeated as new operating systems are released with the correct version number and OS name. But this will certainly add some longevity to Mint for us users who aren’t ready to move on just yet.

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