The Apple Watch is the most popular smart watch in the world. According to Statista data, Apple claimed a staggering 55% of the market as of the first quarter of 2020. No wonder the Apple Watch is not that popular either. It’s all the rage, including tons of fitness tracking capabilities and built-in apps for everything from contactless payments to Uber, and more.
But there was a key component that Apple Watch fans have been clamoring for years: sleep tracking. All of that changed on Monday when Apple finally announced that it will add sleep tracking to Apple Watch on watchOS 7, the latest version of the operating system that powers Apple’s portable device.
With that one addition, Apple transformed its watch from a capable and popular handheld device to the undisputed king of smartwatches. But not everyone will have access to the new feature.
The Apple Watch’s lack of sleep tracking, and its approximately two-day battery life, have been the biggest criticisms of the wearable device. But with the addition of sleep tracking, Apple has crushed half of those criticisms. This is how sleep tracking works.
First of all, it is not something that is automatically activated. Actually, you’ll need to set a bedtime so the watch knows it’s going to be in the bag soon.
According to Apple, that doesn’t mean you have to go to bed at that exact time each night, but rather it gives the watch a warning to look for signs that it will go to sleep soon.
Adding a bedtime will also send notifications to your iPhone for apps you use frequently before going to sleep. That can include things like meditation apps or prompts to launch “scenes” in Apple’s Smart Home app that lets you close your doors and turn off your home lights from your phone.
Once you go to bed at night, your Apple Watch will use its built-in accelerometer to look for general movement and micro-movements of your breathing to determine when you’re really going to sleep.
When you wake up in the morning, you’ll see a summary of your night’s sleep, complete with how many hours you slept and how much battery your watch has left.
In addition to the sleep tracking feature, Apple also announced a series of new exercises available for the Apple Watch Workout app. Additions include a dance training (for people much more coordinated than me); a new Core Training (for people with more patience than me); a functional strength training workout; and a cool down workout.
In a rather surprising move, Apple has also added a new handwash timer to the Apple Watch. There are already plenty of apps to help remind you to spend 20 seconds washing your hands to make sure you rinse off germs and bacteria, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s still an unexpected addition to the watch.
The feature works by automatically recognizing the sound of running water and the movement of your watch as you wash your hands. She then activates a 20-second timer to ensure her gloves are as clean as possible.
In addition to new exercises and handwash detection, Apple is expanding the Watch’s Noise app. The feature, which alerts you to sounds that are above safe levels to prevent hearing damage, can now determine if the music you are listening to in your headphones is also loud enough to damage your hearing.
Then, of course, there’s the ability to further personalize Apple Watch faces with multiple hassles from a single app, options for getting faces from the App Store, and a way to share faces with your friends.
The only problem the Apple Watch faces is the two-day battery life. It’s hard to imagine Apple being able to add several more days of battery life to the watch without significantly increasing its size to accommodate a larger battery, but it’s still a valid criticism. Especially when Fitbit watches, while not as capable, can run for several days at a time on a single charge.
The first-generation Apple Watch is five years old, so the second-generation watch won’t have access to watchOS 7. It’s a shame to be sure, but as Apple puts it, older portable devices just can’t handle the Features offered in the latest software update.
The Apple Watch Series 3 is eligible for watchOS 7, but will not be able to use the handwash detection feature. Both the Apple Watch Series 4 and Apple Watch Series 5 will be able to take full advantage of all the new capabilities offered in watchOS 7.
I’ve been an advocate for the Apple Watch Series 3 for some time, in large part because Apple has been selling it for just $ 199, making it a great entry point for consumers interested in trying out a smartwatch. But with the news that it won’t support handwashing detection, it’s clear that Series 3 isn’t long for this world.
However, the Apple Watch Series 5 is currently for sale on Amazon for $ 299, below $ 399, making it a more expensive, albeit more functional, option for shoppers who want their own smartwatch.
For my money, I would wait to buy an Apple Watch until September or October, when Apple is likely to introduce its Apple Watch Series 6. That’s because Series 6 will likely have a more advanced processor and could offer longer battery life than the Series 5. Apple may even lower the price of the Series 5 at that point as well.
So if you don’t have an Apple Watch right now, wait a couple of months before taking the dive. Will be worth