It's launch day for the Apple Watch! Check out our favorite apps—from incredibly useful to lovably odd—from the latest batch of trendy downloads.
The Apple Watch is nothing if not global. The $349-plus gadget is officially available today, but only in high-end boutiques in Paris, London, Tokyo, L.A., and Berlin. (Unless you're Beyoncé.) If you haven't pre-ordered one and won't find yourself shopping abroad anytime soon, you can order the Apple Watch online.
Buying one is a financial commitment, not to mention a leap of faith in the watch's usefulness—you still need an iPhone to work the thing—but travel is one of the arenas that critics say holds the greatest potential for a wearable. A New York Times tech columnist used it to pay for taxis in New York City and show his boarding pass before getting on a flight, and reported back: "When these encounters worked, they were magical, like having a secret key to unlock the world right on my arm."
While you wait for your gilded precious to arrive, here are 10 of the buzziest (and strangest) travel apps available for download at the Apple Watch's App Store, beyond the ones we mentioned last month:
One touch is all it takes to book a stay directly on Booking.com's Booking Now app, available in 15 languages: "Through the use of Apple’s new pressure-sensitive ‘force touch’ technology, spontaneous travelers are now able to choose and book the nearest relevant hotel in one simple gesture" (free).
Using the Trails app, outdoor enthusiasts can access topographical maps offline and record their activity stats, such as "altitude, ascent/descent, speed, pace, and duration." The watch lets you "start and stop recordings straight from your wrist" (free app, Trails Pro subscription starts at $1.99 for three months).
If you're already a HotelTonight convert, you're going to love the watch version: Users can book a hotel room "in seconds" with the expected sleek HT interface, which shows hotels nearby in categories like "luxe," "hip," and "standard," plus Bonus Rates, for discounts on rooms after 3 p.m. (free).
Hypochondriacs, this one's for you. Replete with a 20-second hand-washing timer, Sickweather's app "provides the user a relative threat index of contagious illness in their immediate area" and alerts you when you've entered a Sick Zone: "areas where illnesses have been recently reported" (free).
The Viator Tours & Activities app beams from your iPhone to your watch, with your voucher's bar code, so "at the flick of your wrist and a tap of your watch, you can access your bookings and vouchers, getting you through the turnstile, the kiosk or lines in no time" (free).
6. British Airways (and other airlines)
In addition to the watch's launch partner American Airlines, other airlines have retooled their apps for the watch too (Delta, JetBlue, and Air France among them). British Airways recently announced you can use the app as a boarding pass. Plus, "a quick swipe of the 'glance' screen...will display a detailed summary of the customer’s next flight including the flight number, the flight status, a countdown to departure time and the weather at the destination" (free).
Can't wait to see which honeymoon wish-list items or couple-rrific "experiences" your wedding guests bought you? (Think: round-trip honeymoon airfare or an "intimate wine-tasting tour.") Zola's watch app sends notifications that "alert you when you receive a new gift off your Zola wedding registry as it happens." Surprises are so overrated (free).
Along with rental car–pickup notifications, hotel check-in alerts, and itinerary info from the Hotwire Hotels & Car Rentals app, "gas-up alerts" pop up on the watch "one hour before car drop-off time" (free).
9. IHG Translator App
As though you were a globe-trotting Dick Tracy, the IHG Translator app will decipher languages from Castilian Spanish to Thai: "By speaking directly into the watch, or selecting from a range of pre-loaded common phrases, travelers will be able to translate from English into 13 different languages, in real-time, meaning the app will cover the nine initial launch countries for Apple Watch" (free).
10. Boat Beacon
"See and be seen on your boat"! With this ship-plotting app, Boat Beacon app wearers can "get CPA alarms, monitor MOB position and check your navigation and compass live directly on your Apple Watch from anywhere on your boat. Navigation, Compass, AIS, Race Timer, and Night Mode/Light watch screens provided." Catch you on the water ($9.99).