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Apple Watch gets sleep tracking

The new watchOS 7 will come with sleep tracking, a long-awaited feature for the Apple Watch, as well as automatic hand-washing detection.

Apple last night previewed watchOS 7, which delivers enhanced customisation tools and powerful new health features.  

“We’re energized by the positive impact Apple Watch is having on our customers and are excited to deliver meaningful new tools that support their health, fitness, and wellness,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “watchOS 7 brings sleep tracking, automatic handwashing detection, and new workout types together with a whole new way to discover and use watch faces, helping our users stay healthy, active, and connected.”  

Faces are central to the watch experience, providing users with valuable information at a glance and the ability to personalise their Apple Watch. watchOS 7 offers new ways to discover and share different combinations to completely configure the watch face to suit activity or lifestyle. 

Developers now can offer more than one complication – equivalent to widgets – per app on a single watch face. For example, on one watch face, Glow Baby can display multiple complications that help new parents track bottle-feeding, breastfeeding, pumping statistics, and nap times, while Dawn Patrol can show surfers tide, wind speed, and water temperature from a selected surf spot.  

watchOS 7 introduces sleep tracking to the Apple Watch, taking a holistic approach to sleep by providing valuable tools to help users get the desired amount of sleep, get to bed on time, and create a pre-bedtime routine to meet their sleep goals. Through the detection of micro-movements from the watch’s accelerometer, which signals respiration during sleep, Apple Watch intelligently captures when the wearers are sleeping and how much sleep they get each night. In the morning, the user will see a visualisation of the previous night’s sleep, including periods of wake and sleep. They will also see a chart showing their weekly sleep trend.  

In short, watchOS is catching up with Fitbit and Android sleep tracking. 

To help users wake up, the Apple Watch now offers a silent haptic alarm or gentle sounds, while the wake-up screen shows the current battery level. Depending on personal charging behaviour, if the battery is too low within an hour of bedtime, Apple Watch will remind users to charge it ahead of sleep. Sleep data is encrypted on device or in iCloud with iCloud sync, and data is always in the user’s control.  

In a first-of-its-kind innovation for a wearable, Apple Watch uses the motion sensors, microphone, and on-device machine learning to automatically detect hand-washing motions and sounds. It then initiates a 20-second countdown timer, and if users finish early, they will be prompted to keep washing. Apple Watch can also conveniently remind users to wash their hands when they return home.  

The watchOS 7 update will be available later this year for Apple Watch Series 3 and later devices that are paired to iOS 14 smartphones. 

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