Despite the arrival of the Samsung Gear Sport, the Samsung Gear S3 is one of the best smartwatches you can get your hands on right now. Yes, we weren’t the biggest fans of the size change, but Samsung has put together one of the best ecosystems for a smartwatch, right up alongside the Apple Watch Series 3, Android Wear watches like the Ticwatch E, and even the Fitbit Ionic.
The Gear watches have that wonderful rotating bezel, some solid sports tracking and health features and one of the most intuitive smartwatch operating systems in Tizen. However, app support is not one of its strengths, but things are slowly improving as Samsung rolls out regular software updates to improve the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic watches.
And, luckily, there are still a few good ones to stick on Samsung’s flagship smartwatch duo, some of which have carried over from the Gear S2 era. We’re still waiting on a few, with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger still only offering limited support, but there are a handful of worthy contenders to download.
You can read our full Samsung Gear S3 review right here, but we’ve broken out a roundup of the apps we think S3 owners should have on their wrist. Without further ado, here’s our pick of the bunch.
It was a bit of a wait, but the Gear S3 now has an official Spotify app to allow you to enjoy music from your wrist through Wi-Fi or LTE.
You’ll be free to browse through your playlists, charts and search for tracks on the app, with offline support for Android users also now in tow. This allows Premium users to listen to saved playlists even when not connected to an internet source.
If you’re all about watch faces, then this is a download essential. After flexing its customisation skills on Android Wear, Facer is now available for Samsung’s Tizen-running smartwatches.
You can pick from over 15,000 different watch faces specially designed for the Gear S3 or you can have a go at creating your own through the Facer Creator portal where you can add in any images, pick different fonts, watch hands and drop in your favourite watch widgets.
Under Armour Connected Fitness Suite
With Samsung only offering basic Strava support, the third-party options for exercisers isn’t all that strong. But with the recent Under Armourcollaboration, the Gear S3 now supports the Under Armour Connected Fitness suite – meaning you have access to apps like UA Record, MapMyRun, Endomondo, and MyFitnessPal.
This not only gives you a bit more choice when it comes to how you want to enjoy untethered GPS tracking and route viewing, but you can also keep tabs on your diet, too
You know how it works by now, but the good news is that the S3’s version of the cab-hailing app doesn’t skimp on the features. The screen is big enough that dragging the marker to your chosen pickup location is easy, while the rotating bezel lets you zoom in and out of the map, and scroll through your choice of ride, be it a Pool, SUV or just a regular Uber X. It’s the same deal as the S2 version – our favourite Uber smartwatch app around. Just be warned, this one is exclusive to those of you with Samsung phones.
An unofficial app previously let you control your home from the wrist, but now Nest has unveiled its own app for you to enjoy.
This allows users who own the Nest Learning Thermostat to monitor temperature, set the device status to ‘home’ or ‘away’ and even control the heat through the watch’s rotating bezel. Nifty.
Find My Car
You’ve taken the kids out to a theme park for the day. You left the car in car lot K, zone 4… you think. But it’s dark now, the kids are cranky from their sugar comedown and you could spend days in this concrete hell. That is, unless you’ve used the Find my Car app, which marked the location when you arrived. You can also leave yourself a voice memo to remind yourself “Car is parked by red bollard” or “Never let the kids eat ice cream again”.
Flipboard News briefing
One of our recommended Gear S2 apps makes a return as a pre-installed app on the S3, and again, it’s a bit of a surprise hit. You might not think watches were made for reading news, but Flipboard makes it work well, distilling stories down to the need-to-know facts. You can then tap a button to open the full story on your phone should you want to dig into the meat of it.
Glympse’s function is simple: let people know where you are. Say you’re meeting friends in an unknown part of town, simply send them your GPS location through the app and they’ll be able to get to you. The Gear app simply lets you do it faster. You can also request a friend’s location by tapping a different icon. We likey.
Not the official version, but this replica is a surprisingly good fit on Samsung’s watch, letting you command with a lot of precision. It can get a bit juddery now and then, but nothing that will spoil the endless fun of carving airborne watermelons. And it’s free – fruity bonus.
Sadly, the Nike+ app isn’t likely to come to Gear due to Nike’s partnership with Apple. To make matters worse, the selection of other running apps to choose from is woeful. Samsung’s S Health isn’t terrible, and is getting better, but if you want another option, Pear is free and works without your phone, offering audio coaching and tracking heart rate, distance and calories.
The simplest app on our list, but quite a useful one. White Light turns your S3 into a mini torch by turning the display white and upping the brightness to max. Useful in a moment where you need some light and don’t want to fish out your phone. Unless you’re someone who sensibly carries a torch with them. Weirdo.
Turn your S3 into a remote photo and video shooter. The app streams the image from either your phone’s front or rear camera to your wrist, where you can remotely capture or set a timer. It also supports a flash mode.
Running and listening to music is great, but sometimes you just want to feel like James Bond, right? Thankfully, if you’re the owner of a compatible BMW vehicle, you can.
The BMW Connected app allows you to lock/unlock doors, check how much fuel is left in the tank, view details of your next trip and, conveniently, check just where exactly the car is – all from your wrist.
If you’re going to download a maps app on your S3, we recommend this one as we find Google Maps a bit too fiddly on the watch. You can set a route and have it cache to your watch, so you can continue to use it without your phone later on. Handy. This one’s free, but if it’s navigation you’re looking for, Mobiteka’s paid Gear Navigator Standalone app may also be up your street. Get it?
Are you an international jetsetter so overwhelmed by flight details, car rentals and hotel reservations that you wish there was a simple, glance-ready way to keep track of it all as you venture airport to airport? There is, it’s Tripcase for the Gear S3. You can manage and keep track of your flight information, car rentals and hotel accommodations all in the same place. Yeehaw.