The Apple Watch has come a long way since the first version was released over 3 years ago. Today’s 4th-generation model features a much faster processor for speedier operation, an internal GPS and optional LTE cellular data so you can use all the features without the need to take your iPhone everywhere you go.
We’ve been flying with the Apple Watch since it first launched, and while it has some unique uses, it’s mostly a novelty in the cockpit. Fortunately, many aviation developers offer Apple Watch apps along with their primary iPad/iPhone app, allowing you to access bite-size pieces of aviation data from your wrist.
There are 2 main steps to installing one of these apps on your Apple Watch:
- Download an app that supports Apple Watch features to your iPhone (the watch isn’t compatible with iPad).
- Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and use the “My Watch” button at the bottom of the screen to select the apps you’d like to install on your watch (here are more detailed instructions).
To get you started, here are our favorite aviation apps for Apple Watch.
Altimeter+ Display an altimeter flight instrument on your watch. You can choose to use the barometer, GPS or ASTER calculations as the source to determine altitude.
Aerovie, electronic flight bag (EFB) This is the most capable aviation Apple Watch app available today and offers the following features: weather radar, flight timers, digital checklists, pilot health monitoring, and nearby airport information. It also offers customizable watch face complications, allowing you to display widgets of nearby METARs and TAFs (with time travel support) on the home watch face.
Bad Elf GPS Utility Monitor and control your Bad Elf GPS accessory right from your Apple Watch. Provides a moving map view and basic navigation information, including ground speed, track and GPS altitude.
FlightRadar24 Turn your Apple Watch into an air traffic radar and see a listing of nearby airplanes, including relative location, flight details and position on the map.
MiraCheck CoPilot This app for iPhone and iPad provides smart checklist functionality for iPhone and iPad that you control with your voice. The companion Watch app provides an alternate means to advance the checklist from your wrist.
MyRadar View detailed weather radar imagery, current weather conditions and a 5-day forecast.
NRST This is a must-have for pilots flying with the Apple Watch. It continuously displays the direction and distance to nearby airports, along with a navigation instrument to guide you to a selected airport and descent planning data based on your current groundspeed.
Sporty’s E6B Compute common aviation conversions right from your wrist, including temperature, pressure, fuel, distance and time.
WatchMETAR Search for airports by name, city or ID, and view raw and decoded METARs and TAFs. You can also add METAR data as complications (small widgets) to the watch home screen.
Zulu Time This simple application allows you to see Local and Zulu time at a glance, or other time zones when traveling.
Airplane Guide This last one won’t help you out during flight planning, but it’s a fun one to test your airplane recognition skills. It includes a large collection of aviation photos and uses a quiz interface to test your knowledge of make and model.