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The Best Apple Watch Apps – 20 Must Haves

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I was among the lucky ones to get my Apple Watch Sport 42mm delivered on day one, April 24, 2015. During the setup process you are given the option of installing all of your existing 3rd party iPhone Apps that have Apple Watch apps embedded in them. For example, if you have 30 iPhone apps and 10 of them have Apple Watch apps in them then those 10 apps would get installed on your Apple Watch by default. Of course you can choose to manually install just the ones you want or remove the ones you don’t want. I choose to install all of mine so that I can try them out. In total of my over 495 iPhone Apps on my iPhone 6 Plus I had 84 that included Apple Watch Apps. Of those 84 I ended up keeping 71 of them installed. It still boggles my mind that there are 71 3rd party apps on my wrist and just like the 3rd party apps on my iPhone, there are some that I use all the time on my watch and some that are just OK. Apple already installs a bunch of built-in apps that may be all you need. Those apps coupled with push notifications from your iPhone apps to your Watch make a nice combination, yet there will always be 3rd party apps that give you more and I will be the 1st to admit that when the rumors of an Apple Watch first started to circulate that I didn’t imagine that there would be so many functions built-in and let alone extended by 3rd party Watch Apps.

What makes a “Best Apple Watch App”?

When it comes to Apple Watch I actually have a different set of rules that determine whether or not it will be considered a “Best App” or not. Since the Apple Watch is a 1.0 device you would expect that some of the apps will hit the mark and be really useful or not. What I consider first and foremost in my criteria is that the app has to offer enough functionality on my wrist to make me not want to pull my iPhone out of my pocket. The minute the app on my Apple Watch asks me to “sign in” on my iPhone, it’s an immediate failure to me at that point. If I have to pull out my iPhone to make the Watch app work then why not just use my iPhone? Next the App has to be able to perform a task (usually a simple task) that is well suited for the smaller display of the Watch AND one that I would rather do on my wrist than have to go in my pocket. Lastly the app can’t take forever to load. Many of the 1st round of Apple Watch Apps took way too long just to open. Apple has helped with the 1.0.1 firmware update. Now I don’t see the lag in many of the apps that I was seeing before. If a developer can meet the above three criteria then they’ve got a good shot of not only making it to my wrist but staying there. One thing you’ll have to get used to is that since there is no keyboard on Apple Watch (thank God) that any App requiring input will most likely rely on voice dictation/translation. So far the Siri features of Apple Watch have worked really well for me. I would say the success rate for me has been above 95%. Now that you know what I’m looking for, here are my current picks for the Best Apple Watch Apps:

 

1Password

1Password Apple Watch

1Password is the App I used to manage all of my passwords from my Mac to my iPhone to my iPad. I was wondering what the use case would be for the Watch version and it has come in hand a couple of times. The idea is that you go into 1Password on your iPhone and simply choose which of your logins/passwords you want to be able to call up on your Apple Watch. So if there’s a password, access code, serial number, etc that you’re always have to bring up on screen, now you can do it from your Watch. For me I’m always needing my Hilton Honors password to login to their WiFi and the OS level login screen doesn’t support 1Password directly. This way I can be on any computer or device and quickly bring up the password on my Watch.
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3 Hour Diet

3 Hour Diet Apple Watch

One of the best ways to lose weight is to eat smaller meals more often throughout the day. When I’m sticking to this I can’t live without the 3 Hour Diet timer which contrary to its name, can remind me to eat every 2 hours. Being able to respond to these alerts on my Watch is way more convenient then having to pull out my iPhone each time.
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Adobe Color CC

Adobe Color Apple Watch

I love capturing color themes with Adobe Color CC on my iPhone so that I can use them in future designs. The Watch version shows me popular color themes based on my current location. From my Watch I can see the 10 most popular themes and add any of them or all of them to my Creative Cloud Library right from my Watch. The next time I’m on my computer in Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc. these themes will be there for me to use.
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Amazon

Amazon on Apple Watch

I shop from Amazon on a regular basis and sometimes I think of something that I want before I’m actually ready to place the order. The Amazon App is a nice way to simply speak the search term that you’re looking for, find what you want and then add it to your wishlist or buy it with 1-Click on the spot.
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Apple Store

Apple Store on Apple Watch

The Apple Store Watch App does three things. It shows you your nearest Apple Retail Store based on your current location, it shows you nearest workshops and events and it shows you the current status of any online orders you’ve placed. The 1st and the 3rd function are the most useful to me.
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AroundMe

AroundMe Apple Watch

AroundMe has always been one of my favorite iPhone apps for travel. Having it on my Watch is very cool. Based on my location I can quickly find the nearest restaurants, bars, coffee shops, banks/ATM, hotels, supermarkets, gas stations, hospitals, parking, pharmacies, pubs, taxis, and theaters right from my wrist. If I find a spot that I want to hit I can tap to get directions and navigation on my Apple Watch.
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B&H Photo

B&H Photo Apple Watch

B&H Photo and Video is arguably the world’s largest photo equipment retailer and they are always running sales. It’s cool to be able to glance at their deal zone whenever I have an extra minute or two to see what’s on special in that moment. See something you want and add it to your cart or wishlist. You can also do a handoff and view it in the iPhone app if you want more info.
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Calcbot

Calcbot Apple Watch

One of the main things that the first round of larger digital watches offered over traditional watches were the ability to have a calculator on your watch. How cool was that? Yes the keys were very very tiny and some needed a stylus, but nonetheless you had a calculator on your wrist. Calcbot offers a calculator, unit conversion utility and tip calculator right on your wrist. Hands down the best Apple Watch calculator I’ve seen to date. It implements force touch to switch between conversions.
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Evernote

Evernote Apple Watch

Many people carry around a notepad and pen. I stopped doing that once smartwatches hit the scene. The Apple Notes app is on iPhone, but oddly missing from Apple Watch. No need to worry because Evernote is here to allow you to dictate new notes on the fly. You can view recent notes or search for ones by voice.
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Fandango

Fandango Apple Watch

If you’re a movie goer then you’ll like the Fandango iPhone and Apple Watch app. This is one of those cases where I’ll bend my criteria a bit. The Watch app doesn’t really do much unless you’ve purchased a ticket with the iPhone App. However, once you have purchased a ticket then you can get some pretty cool stuff on your Watch. You’ll get your upcoming movie info including the theater. If your theater supports electronic passes you’ll also get your movie ticket on your Watch via Passbook.
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FlightTrack 5

Flighttrack 5 Apple Watch

I fly Delta most of the time and while Delta does have a Watch App, it’s pretty useless to me in its current state (which is a huge disappointment). What I want on my Watch is to know what Terminal I’m leaving from, reminder of the flight time and the gate number. FlightTrack 5 is a great iPhone App and does a fantastic job on Apple Watch displaying the info you need.
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Keynote

Keynote Apple Watch

Anytime I need to give a slide presentation then chances are I’m going to deliver it in Apple’s Keynote App. The iPhone App allows me to remote control it wirelessly from my phone, but being able to advance my slides from my wrist means that I can talk more with my hands :-) Once you pair your iPhone with Keynote on your Mac then you can use either your iPhone or Apple Watch as wireless remote on stage.
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Merriam Webster

Webster Dictionary Apple Watch

There are times when I want to know how to spell a word or the definition of one. The Merriam Webster Apple Watch app is a perfect example of a great Watch App. Just fire it up, say the word in question and get the spelling and definition.
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Office Depot

Office Depot Apple watch

Office Depot tries to stay on top of tech things. They accept Apple Pay at their registers and recently they just came out with a Watch App. Like the other shopping apps you can voice search for items you want. You can also find the closest store and see the daily deal.
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SoundHound

Sound Hound Apple Watch

Answer the question: “what song is that playing?” has always been a cool feature of SoundHound on your iPhone. Now you can answer the question from your wrist. Fire up the SoundHound App and tap the big listen button. Yes I know that you’re probably thinking doesn’t Shazam do this and isn’t it now integrated into Siri in iOS 8? The answer is yes, but side-by-side testing on Apple Watch revealed that SoundHound is a better Watch App. Shazam took forever to launch and seems to only work well if the iPhone app is running nearby. My pick in this category is SoundHound.
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Speak & Translate

Speak & Translate Apple Watch

I do wish that I spoke more than one language but sadly that is not yet the case. I rely on translation Apps to help me understand and more importantly speak a few words in the native tongue when I travel. Speak & Translate raises the bar in this category on iPhone and even does quite well on Apple Watch. Need a quick translation. Just bring up the app and speak into your Watch. The translation will be displayed in a few seconds.
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SPG

I’m a Hilton and Marriott guy mostly, but I have to give the nod to Starwood for the best hotel Watch App. Not only does it give you details about your stay, but you can even use it unlock your door in participating hotels. It takes more taps than it should to bring up the unlock at this point, but you can start the process in the elevator so that the unlock is ready by the time you get to your door.
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TallyCounter

Tally Counter Apple Watch

Do you ever see someone walking around or standing near a door with those hand clicker/counters? The digital version has been on your iPhone for a while with the TallyCounter app and now you can do it from your wrist. The latest update offers nice big buttons and a force touch reset.
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Tipity

Tipity Apple Watch

This was the category that I thought would be a no brainer. How hard is it to do a tip calculator on Apple Watch? There dozens of tip calculators on iPhone and several of them have made it to Apple Watch and I have to tell you that I tried just about all of them in search of the best one. The shock here was that all but a couple really sucked! Either they lacked features or had bad UIs (user interfaces) or both. The hardest thing to find was one that allowed quick entry of your bill total, calculated the tip before the tax, let you quickly choose a level of service ie. 20% good, 25% great, 10-15% not so great and rounding of the total. Tipity had it all when I first looked except the rounding feature. I went on to Let Me Tip and while it had all the features the UI wasn’t good. Too many taps to make entries. To my pleasant surprise the most recent update to Tipity added the rounding preference that I asked for. It’s FAST and it works! It’s what I wanted in a tip calculator for my Watch. Calcbot had promise, but like many of the others is missing one or more of the features above.
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Uber

Uber Apple Watch

Uber is my default ride-share service and having the Watch app means I don’t have to always have my iPhone out when traveling. This is important to me especially when I’m also dragging my luggage behind me too. With Uber on my Watch I can summon a car and track the ETA. I can see the driver/car info as well while my iPhone is in my pocket.
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Tipity — Tip Calculator

Tipity Tip Calculator for iPhone and Apple Watch

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You’ve seen one tip calculator you’ve seen them all. There really isn’t much to innovate in this category. Many will be quick to argue that with their superior math skills that they can just do the math in their heads and have no need for such apps. With all that said I’m always looking at the new entries in this market to see if there is one that I like better than the one that I’ve used for years. While I was checking out the newest apps for Apple Watch I noticed a tip calculator called Tipity and while my favorite calculator and conversion utility Calcbot offers one, there’s is lacking a couple of features such as excluding tax and rounding up/down. I decided to give Tipity a shot. The first thing I noticed on the iPhone was that the interface is very “text” based. Most of these apps have giant keypads to quickly allow you to enter the check total while Tipity concentrates more on showing you all the figures. Once you tap on a value then the numeric keyboard pops up and you can make changes. On this same keyboard you find the -1 and +1 to round up or down. In the settings you can choose to deduct tax (not tip on the tax) or not. If you enable it then you’ll be able to put in the tax rate on the main display. Lastly you can choose a star rating of 1 star (10% tip), 2 stars (15% tip) or 3 starts (20% tip) based the service you received. This way you can simply put the check total in and Tipity will do the math subtracting the tax and then calculating the tip plus giving you to the total with tax and tip included. I usually like to round up. This is something that I wish I could turn on in the settings instead of having to press the +1/-1 buttons each time.

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The developer spent a lot of time making so you can customize the colors of your display to your liking.

A great app for Apple Watch

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This is a perfect example of an app that fits perfectly on Apple Watch. There is no need to take out your phone. When the check arrives just fire up Tipity on your Apple Watch and enter the amount of the check.

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Tipity will display the tip and total. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a rounding option on the Apple Watch version and this is even more of a reason why I’d want to turn it on in the settings.

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Using Force Touch you can bring up the star rating display. Nice implementation and UI for Apple Watch.

The Bottom Line

Tipity is a good tip calculator for iPhone and iPad, but an even better app for Apple Watch. You can get Tipity here from the .

FlightTrack 5

10 Apps That I’m Looking Forward to on Apple Watch That Are Already Here!

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Apple Watch is a little bit more than a week away from shipping to those lucky few who got their pre-orders in within the first 5-10 minutes of being open last Friday. I’m really looking forward to receiving my Apple Watch Sport. I find that like the iPhone back in 2007 there is much confusion about Apple Watch. It isn’t my job to sell you on it. Frankly I’m not too concerned about people that say that they don’t want or need it. Like any product it will be a great fit for many and not for others. When I mention Apple Watch to my friends (the ones that don’t get it), I explain to them that it’s all about the “glances”. I pull my iPhone 6 plus out of my pocket more times than I can count in a day to look at things. Perhaps I got a push notification and I want to see what it is. Maybe it’s a notice that my flight or gate has changed. Or maybe it’s a notice that my Uber car has arrived. Perhaps it’s a text message. These are things that in most cases don’t really need much interaction from me, but they are little pieces of information that I want to know and soon will be able to glance at on my wrist while my iPhone stays in my pocket. Apple has already opened to the doors to App Developers to add Apple Watch support to their iPhone apps. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve noticed more and more of my favorite apps being updated with Apple Watch features and some of which I weren’t even expecting, but I’m glad to see. Keep in mind that Apple Watch will already have a lot of great built-in Apps like Passbook (can’t wait to board my next flight using the boarding pass on my Apple Watch), Calendar, iMessage, etc., but it’s the 3rd party apps that will take it to the next level much the way they do on iPhone today.

Here is my list of the 10 Apps That I’m Looking Forward to on Apple Watch:

FlightTrack

FlightTrack-icon

FLIGHTTRACK FOR APPLE WATCH: the perfect complement
• Notifications for flight status and gate changes
• Flight progress and information at a glance
• Travel details for current and upcoming flights for yourself, or friends and family
iTunes.

Uber

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Now you can use Uber on your Apple Watch. Request a ride with a single tap and check your driver’s progress at any time — without ever pulling out your phone
iTunes.

Evernote

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Evernote for Apple Watch
– Dictate notes into Apple Watch and they’ll be transcribed and synced to Evernote
– See recently created, updated, and viewed notes
– Dictate searches and see results on your Apple Watch
– Create reminders and get notified about items due today

iTunes.

1Password

1Password-icon

== 1Password 5.4 for iOS, the ‘Go Go Gadget Watch!` Edition ==

Sometimes, it’s the little things that are really exciting. There’s not a lot of big changes in this release, but some sweet refinements to existing features (like the Message Center and 1Password’s Brain) and one lovely little addition for our Pro users: an item detail that lets you ‘Add to Apple Watch.’
iTunes.

3 Hour Diet Reminder

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THE APPLE WATCH EXTRAVAGANZA RELEASE

Added snooze button to notifications
Swipe notifications to snooze or start a new timer.
Can set the snooze duration in settings.

Added Apple Watch App Extension
Start and stop your timer from your Apple Watch.
Increase / Decrease you daily water consumption progress.
View the remaining time for your current timer from an Apple Watch glance screen.
Receive notifications directly on your Apple Watch.
Snooze the timer directly from your Apple Watch notification.
iTunes.

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Pandora

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Experience personalized music discovery with Pandora for Apple Watch.
· What’s that song playing? The song name and artist are available at a glance.
· Thumb-up tracks you love, pause playback and change stations directly from your wrist.
· Easily access new music notifications.
iTunes.

Deliveries: a package tracker

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• Apple Watch: now includes an app, Glance, and notification support for Apple Watch.
iTunes.

Twitter

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Includes Twitter for Apple Watch. <-not much of description I know, but I’ll be happy to see important tweets/mentions at a glance.
iTunes.

Dark Sky

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Dark Sky looks great on your wrist. Get notifications and check out the weather for the next five days with the Dark Sky app built from scratch for Apple Watch.
iTunes.

Trip Advisor

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New for Apple Watch
• Suggests places to eat or attractions to visit based on your current location and time of day.
• Save a place directly on the Apple Watch, which is synced to your TripAdvisor profile and is made available on TripAdvisor.com and TripAdvisor apps for iPhone and iPad.
• Supports Apple Maps for directions to places.
• Supports Force Touch on list view so that you can change search range and sort options.
iTunes.

Bonus: SPG

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Although I’m more of a Hilton and Marriott guy, the idea of using my Apple Watch to open my door instead of a plastic card key appeals to my geek side in ways you can’t imagine. I will stay at an SPG property just to experience this.

Now you can experience the SPG app on Apple Watch.

You’ll have easy access to all your favorite SPG app features, including SPG Keyless, accessing your stay details and tracking your account.

For more information about the SPG app on Apple Watch, visit spg.com/mobileapps

iTunes.

The Bottom Line

The above list is just the beginning. I can remember the handful of apps available on day one for iPad. Now there are thousands and some of which I couldn’t imagine life without. Although my Apple Watch is already ordered, I’m still stuck on deciding which band I’m going to like the most. Check out this video from my LIVE Periscope broadcast when I tried on a few of my favorites:



The Christmas List

The Best Christmas List App for 2014

TheChristmasListApp-iPhone6Plus

For many of you at this point you’re holiday shopping is probably well underway. However, for many more of you you’re probably procrastinating as usual :-) I’ve used my favorite gift list app for the last few years and it’s really good because it’s not really focused just on Christmas. However, the app also hasn’t been updated in a while and “The Christmas List” app came across my desk. I decided to check it out and it instantly became my favorite. It’s really hard to explain other than it simply has an easier workflow. What I expect from the “Best Christmas List App” is that it will allow me to easily add people from my contacts along with their photos. It will easily allow me to create a budget for each person and the ability to add a list of gifts for each person. I also expect it to have a passcode feature and the ability to easily check off the gifts as I get them. As a matter of fact without these basic features the App will likely get deleted from my iPhone. The Christmas List App has all of these basics and more. First off even with the basics it’s really well thought out and quick and fast to make the entries. You can easily add people from your Contacts or create them manually. You can then assign each person a budget.

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After that you can easily add one or more gifts to each person including the ability to add a photo of the gift as well as the price and even a priority rating. Lastly you can even choose the store or add it if it’s not in the list. This will help with shopping lists by store. If you’re giving the same gift to multiple people you only have to enter it once and then assign it to everyone that you’re giving that gift to.

TheChristmasListApp-touchid-iPhone6Plus

It’s gets better. You can not only assign a passcode, but you can even use Touch ID on iPhone 5s or iPhone 6/6 Plus. You get a countdown in the App for Shopping Days til Christmas and in iOS 8 you can even add it as a widget to your Notification Center. While this is called “The Christmas List” app, it’s not actually limited to Christmas. You can add additional “Groups” for any other holidays that you want to celebrate and buy gifts for. You can share your lists via iMessage/SMS, AirDrop as well as Email and Print. While checking things off as you buy them is a must have, it certainly not the only thing to consider. Did you wrap the gift? Does it require shipping? You can not only mark a gift as Purchased, but also Wrapped, Shipping or Received.

TheChristmasListApp-status-iPhone6Plus

While The Christmas List app is GREAT and my new favorite, it’s not quite perfect. There are a couple of things I would like to see. First and foremost I’d love to see an iPad version. Not sure why so many of these type of apps leave out the iPad? I’d also like to see cloud syncing of lists to iCloud or Dropbox between devices. It’s great that you can add photos of the gifts, but you can only do so with the built-in camera or from the Camera Roll. I’d also like to see an integrated Google search for pics of gifts. It would be so much faster to search for say an Xbox One, find the pic online and insert it rather than having to leave the app to do all that manually. It would also be nice to be able to add countdown dates for the other groups that you create. With a few additions like these I could easily use this app for ALL occasions. Outside of these wishes, it’s still the Best Christmas List App that I’ve seen to date. I also appreciate the fact that it has a “clean” look without too much “Christmas” decoration (ie. tacky clipart).

You can get The Christmas List App here from the iTunes.

 

Be sure to check out 2014 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide for ideas:

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iWatermark+

iWatermark+: Watermark your photos in the iOS 8 Photos App

iWatermark+_iPhone6plus

I usually like to have a visual watermark on my photos before posting them to social media. If I’m coming from Lightroom on the desktop no problem, I can export the photos as JPGs with the watermark nicely displayed. However, there are times when I’m either taking the photo with my iPhone or accessing an unwatermarked version via Dropbox or an album in the native Photos app. For years I’ve relied on iWatermark to allow me to easily put my logo on my images right on my iPhone or iPad. However, the newly released iWatermark+ takes this process to a whole new level.

iOS 8 brings “Filters” to the table for the native Photos app

Now that 3rd parties can add filters to the native Photos app in iOS 8, we get to experience many more options without having to leave the Camera Roll/Photos App. We can access better image editing tools and more features that 3rd parties offer in their apps. iWatermark+ can be used in a stand alone fashion as always, but now it can also be used as a filter to in the built-in Photos app for iOS 8. Woohoo! This speeds up my workflow considerably. Now instead of having to launch the iWatermark app each time I want to watermark a photo I can simply do it right in the Photos app where the image already resides. Once you configure the iWatermark+ App with the watermark you wish to use (in my case a PNG file of my logo), you can then just bring up any photo in the Photos app, tap Edit to edit it and tap the Filter button (the circle with the 2 dots in it) and choose iWatermark+ as one of the filters. It remembers the last one you used and more importantly where it was placed on the image. The best part is just like any other Edit in the Photos App, this is a non-destructive change. You can always revert the photo back to its “unedited” state to remove the watermark at any time.

But wait, there’s more…

If I left here I’d be quite happy with this app, but it does so much more that I have to remind myself that it’s not just about a logo. With iWatermark+ you can choose between 6 different watermark types. You can use text, a graphic, a signature, a QR Code, metadata (awesome for those photos where the metadata was stripped away) or steganographic. You can use multiple watermarks as well as watermark several photos at once in batch. You can position the watermark anywhere you like as well as control the size and opacity. Once you watermark your photo(s) you can share it right from the app to Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Twitter, the Camera Roll, Email or the clipboard.

The Bottom Line

While visual watermarks don’t necessarily protect your photos from being used without your permission they do add a level of branding and identity to your images that you are posting. It’s also away of promoting yourself if that cat photo you just took goes viral. :-) Watermark your photos with ease with this app!

You can get iWatermark+ for your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch here from the iTunes.

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