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These incredibly simple Apple Watch apps will control the world around you

Ryan Emberley/Invision for Apple/AP Images
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By Alice Truong

Deputy editor

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

One of the most compelling early uses for the Apple Watch is to use it as a simple, always-there remote control for the world around you. This ranges from the music playing on iTunes to your home lighting or thermostat.

Here are two examples of companies building simple Apple Watch apps with this in mind.

IFTTT (or “If This, Then That”)

IFTTT”s Do Button on the Apple Watch

The image above shows IFTTT’s ”Do Button app” on the Apple Watch. With the click of one button, a person is able to adjust a Nest thermostat to a preset temperature, in this case to 70 degrees, from his or her wrist.

IFTTT runs a web service that connects more than 170 apps, services, and gadgets using “recipes.” You could, for example, create a recipe that automatically saves Instagram images to Dropbox.

So far, the service has been popular with Internet of Things enthusiasts. But with the company’s Do apps—which were released for Android and iOS in February—the service was dramatically simplified so anybody could program buttons that do a single function, such as turning Philips Hue smart lightbulbs on or off.


Hail an Uber from your wrist.

Workflow, another automation company, lets users carry out simple actions—for example, hail a car on Uber—from the wrist. However, its app is a little more robust than IFTTT, in that it allows people to swipe through a gallery of workflows they can download. Other examples include tweeting the last photo taken on an iPhone or saving a voice memo on the go.

In theory, the Apple Watch will be a far better remote than any smartphone. Many smartphone apps have tried to replace the TV remote, but the number of steps involved usually killed their practicality: find phone, enter passcode, launch app, locate and hit the proper button, all in an effort to, say, quickly lower the volume. The Apple Watch removes some of this friction. Wearers don’t have to unlock it each time they want to use it. And since it’s worn on the body, it’s also not something that’ll get lost between the couch cushions.

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