I’m not a conventional smartwatch user, or a conventional nothing user. iPads, Android tablets, smartwatches – they’re usually made for a purpose, but have the potential to do more than their maker intended. And figuring out what it is and actually doing it is exciting for me.
So I got the last Apple Watch Series 7 Nike edition mainly to use it for what Apple intended – tracking my workouts, sleep and overall health… This ECG and blood oxygen tracking is very useful for a person suffering from anemia like me. So far, so good.
But I’ve spent what I consider a lot of money on this device, so as usual I want to push it – surely it can do more than fitness tracking, Siri and phone notifications, ne is this not ?
Apple is pretty serious about throttling its devices, so users can’t do more than the company has allowed them to, but hey – I managed to run Windows 95 on an iPad and Linux on an Android tablet , without jailbreaking them, or anything frowned upon like that.
So the Apple Watch shouldn’t be a hindrance, especially since there’s an App Store for it, and plenty of developers who have released apps that push the hardware to its limits, doing niche things that I want to try.
So here are my top 4 crazy things I’ve done with my Apple Watch that you can easily do too, even if Apple had no intention of doing so. They may seem crazy or pointless, but when people ask why, my answer is always – why not? Let’s go!
Watch YouTube videos on Apple Watch
Earlier this year I wrote an article titled “Full Android on a smartwatch: ridiculous or awesome?
Feel free to check it out, but basically I bought a fully Android powered smartwatch just to see what it would look like, and yeah, it was ridiculous. However, it was a cheap unbranded smartwatch with poor battery life and even poorer performance.
So while I managed to run YouTube on it, its circular display and multi-minute battery life rendered it useless. Even more pointless than playing YouTube on a small screen already was.
Anyway, I now have Apple’s latest and greatest Apple Watch Series 7. Its performance – very good.
Now, in case you’ve never used an Apple Watch or even read about it before – it uses both Bluetooth and WiFi or cellular to connect to your iPhone and the internet, it has an App Store with third-party YouTube apps, and it has a speaker, through which it can play sound. So it’s won, right? We have the necessary elements to play YouTube on it.
You will, however, need to purchase an Apple Watch app called MiniYT. There’s no free way to watch YouTube videos that I’ve discovered, but hey, it’s a pretty painless way to watch videos on your wrist! Suppose you are doing household chores and want to listen to a podcast…
Or you’re in the bathroom doing your morning business, but you forgot your smartphone – heaven! Don’t tell me you’re going to sit there and stare at the wall like it’s the 40s – quick, use your Apple Watch and pull out a fun video to watch!
Get a “Files” app: store and play videos, music and other files right on the Apple Watch
If you’re an iPad or iPhone enthusiast, you were probably pretty excited when Apple finally released a Files app for those devices. Finally – real file management! Like the Windows Explorer or Finder app on macOS, you can create folders, store and move files, share, rename or archive them, and even play many different formats. Good product!
Well, unsurprisingly, there’s no Files app for the Apple Watch. But I don’t take that! Even old iPods from my early teens could be used for USB storage. You can store all your files – music, videos, and even your homework on it. So how come this new Apple device doesn’t offer such a feature, as niche as it is these days?
Again, I found an app for that. It took a bit of research, but here’s the name of the app I found to be the best, and it’s also free – USB Disk SE.
With this handy app, you can transfer your iPhone or iPad files directly to the Apple Watch. Then open USB Disk SE on the Apple Watch and voila – your videos, music, PDFs, any other type of file you need – are there – always with you, always on your wrist.
You can even play MP4 videos directly from this app on the watch, or play the said text files, or play the music files… Again – niche, but I love it!
Browse Reddit, Twitter and Instagram directly from Apple Watch
As ridiculous as you might think watching videos on the Apple Watch is, browsing social media is even clumsier, but if it can be done, I will, and so can you!
To browse Reddit from your wrist, I recommend an app called Lollybot. You log into your Reddit account and there they are – all your favorite subreddits and recent discussions. Don’t expect videos to work, or even images to be readable, but for text subreddits, it’s great.
To browse Twitter on the Apple Watch, I ended up using an app called Chirp. It’s free (aside from some “Pro” features like messaging), and actually it’s not a bad experience – you can like, retweet, follow and unfollow people, see the latest tweets from those you follow, and more. Even videos manage to load and play just fine on this app, which – trust me – seems to be a rarity with many such Apple Watch apps.
Instagram from your Apple Watch is also possible through third-party apps, with Lens apparently being the most popular option among the many. Scrolling through feeds with that Apple Watch crown is satisfying enough, and the experience here is quite similar to that of the Twitter app I mentioned earlier. Not optimal, but cool!
It’s also worth noting that there’s actually a first-party Facebook Messenger app for the Apple Watch, for a change. So messaging your wrist is one thing.
Using the “hidden” web browser on Apple Watch (via Siri)
Like everything else we’ve covered, Apple hasn’t included Safari, or any web browsers on the Apple Watch, so we have to find our own way to access websites from our wrists. Now, there are web browser apps on the App Store, but what I would recommend here is what worked best for me – and that is – using the “hidden Apple Watch web browser”. No need to download anything.
Basically, summon Siri on your Apple Watch and say something like “open PhoneArena.com”. The smart assistant will respond with “I found this on the web”. with a link to the site. Just scroll down, tap on it (“Open Page”) and we’ll browse PhoneArena.com right on the Apple Watch. You can open articles, move around, read as much as you want – until you close this window, you can use it.
However, as you may have noticed in the screenshots above, don’t expect any images or videos to show up. This “hidden” Apple Watch browser will only display text in most cases, usually with a black background. Now that’s understandable – it’s easier to read websites on your wrist if the Apple Watch formats them in the best possible way for that small screen.
Either way – don’t worry – if you ever need to open a website to read something, just ask Siri to do so – it’ll often suggest you open a browser window. So, the browning of the canvas on your wrist!
Do you have your own Apple Watch tricks?
And that’s about it – I’ve had quite a bit of fun with the Apple Watch Series 7 using it for things that Apple didn’t really intend to do. It’s a nice little wrist computer that can do more than you’d expect, even if it’s not exactly practical. But the lack of practicality or even meaning never stops a tech-savvy person!
Have you ever done anything unusual with your Apple Watch that you would like to share? Do you know any niche tricks that most people aren’t aware of? Share them with us in the comments!