Glances are like the Notification Center of iPhones, except you actually remember to use them. When your watch face is on, swipe up from the bottom of the screen, and you get extra information. Swipe left and right and get others, tap in the center, and you go off to the related Apple Watch app. Couldn't be simpler, and probably shouldn't be simpler, but there is a problem.
The odds are high that if you have an Apple Watch, you have Glances on there that you don't want, and didn't consciously put them on. The odds are higher than high -- they are close to certain -- that you have some Glances that you don't use. Maybe you never use them, so you'd like them gone, or you just hardly ever touch the things, so usually they're in the way of what you want.
You can change all of this via the Apple Watch app on your iPhone but, be warned, it's not the most error-free app Apple has ever made. We suspect it starts communicating with your Watch the moment you launch it, because very often the app has opened to black and stayed with nothing on the screen until it's either got some information, or it's crashed.
To be fair, we're still on Apple Watch 1.0 because we're waiting to see how 1.01 goes down first. It's our Watch, it's on our wrist, it is already part of our lives, we don't want to brick it. So maybe some of the Apple Watch app's problems have been fixed in that update we haven't done yet, but the process of finding the Glances you do and don't want is the same. The process of arranging them into a useful order is the same, too.
How you intentionally install Glances
This is so easy we are convinced that our Watches add them by themselves. It is certainly the case that you can have your Watch add any compatible app. So if you also have automatic downloads on your iPhone, you can and we have seen apps appear on our Watch face that we didn't intend.
To see how to get rid of those and their Glances, you need to take a look at how you are supposed to add apps in the first place.
Open Apple Watch on your iPhone and scroll down. Way down. Further than that. Keep going. After all the general controls, after all the installed Apple apps, you get a list of every single app on your iPhone that can also be installed on your Watch. Pick one by tapping on it, and you will go into another screen that has either one or two options.
Every app has the first one: it's "Show App on Apple Watch" and you have a slider to say yes or no. Many apps then have a second line, that is "Show in Glances," and that also has a slider to switch on or off.
Some will add further options, such as Twitter which gives you a tiny bit of control over what gets shown in the Glances. Even in that case, though, an app can't appear on your Watch unless you've said so, and it can't have a Glance unless you've said yes to that too. Nonetheless, we end up with them.
Get rid of unwanted Glances completely
If you've never been into the Apple Watch app since you paired your devices, you still know what's coming next. Flick that "Show in Glances" slider back to off, and you're done. You could also flick back "Show App on Apple Watch." You could also delete the entire app off your iPhone, which sounds like overkill but possibly satisfying.
There are apps we will never put on our Watch, and we don't know why the makers bothered. All it does is make that list of apps very long. That's not a first-world kind of problem either, except that okay, it is. Nonetheless, having that long list is an unnecessary chore, because you can't see what apps are actually installed unless you go into each one individually.
Still, when you get rid of Glances and Apps altogether, then you don't have to go back into the Apple Watch App, so you never see the long list again. Similarly, there are fewer apps so fewer Glances on your Watch.
Make Glances useful
There are Glances that we are glad are good, and that we didn't expect to enjoy quite so much. The ability to pause a podcast or music track from your wrist is so handy. We are fairly unashamedly addicted to all the activity workout stuff, and you can see a summary of that with a glance. We must look at that 10 times a day, and always with the same thought: what do you have to do to make that Activity circle budge?
At least that Glance works: there are others that take so long to load that we have no idea what they are meant to do (don't tell us what Sky Widgets
does: we want to work it out). Once we removed the mysterious and the useless, we were left with Glances we wanted, and Glances we thought we might sometimes want. The ones we want and use include OmniFocus
and Activity summary. The ones we hesitate over include the World Clock. If we really wanted that, we'd add it as a complication to a watch face, yet still it's sometimes useful.
To make Glances more useful, arrange them into an order that suits you. You do that in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
This time, go into it, and near the top you get an option called Glances. Choose that, and you get two long lists. The first is of installed apps that have Glances switched on, and the second is of all the rest. This is a place where you can delete Glances -- without deleting the app -- but more usefully, this is where you can change the order.
Press and hold on the bar's icon on the right, and drag each Glance up or down to where you want it. There is something conceptually wrong about having to drag something up and down a list when you're doing it in order to change where it goes left to right on your Watch. Nonetheless, drag that list around, and your Watch immediately reflects your choices.
Apple Watch Glances
We didn't expect to find them this useful. We didn't expect to remember to use them, to be honest, but now we want more. We just want more that are useful, that actually work, and which we can arrange to suit us.
-- William Gallagher (@WGallagher