Apple developing its own sleep-tracking tech for Apple Watch


App Home Screen Apple Watch Series 4
Your Apple Watch could soon track the number of Zs you catch each night.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch could soon add sleep-tracking tech that makes it an even more capable health monitor.

Apple has been testing the new sleep-tracking technology at secret sites around Cupertino, a new report claims. And if it lives up to its promise, it could ship as part of the Apple Watch by 2020.

Fitbit already offers sleep-tracking tech, as does Withings (previously Nokia Health). Introducing a new sleep-tracking feature would help Apple Watch stay on the cutting edge of wearable technology.

“Before Apple launches new health- and fitness-related features for the Watch, it puts the functionality through rigorous testing at labs around its campus,” Bloomberg reports. “The company also conducts in-house testing for new sensors on exercise equipment such as treadmills and bikes and has analyzed the Watch’s swim-tracking feature with testers at on-site swimming pools. The company also has testing chambers to mimic outside weather conditions and monitor users’ breathing and perspiration.”

Apple’s interest in sleep tracking

This isn’t the first time Apple has ventured into this terrain — although it would be the first for Apple Watch.

Apple’s Health app for iOS has included sleep-tracking since 2014. However, it simply pulls in information from the Clock app’s alarm function, although third-party devices and apps can bolster the data.

Cupertino is clearly interested in sleep tracking as it seeks to transform Apple Watch into an all-around health monitor.

Apple acquired Finnish company Beddit, which makes a sleep-tracking sensor strip, in May 2017. At the end of last year, a new Beddit sleep monitor launched. This was the first version since Apple acquired the company.

The $149.95 device is designed to be wrapped around your mattress. It records data overnight, including your movements while asleep, heart rate, breathing, snoring, bedroom temperature and humidity.

However, the Beddit 3.5 remains very much a niche accessory for Apple. Incorporating similar capabilities into the Apple Watch would bring sleep tracking to a much wider user base. It would also help Apple further move into the field of mobile health, one that Apple Watch increasingly gears itself toward.

Coming soon to a wrist near you

Plenty of third-party Apple Watch apps already can track certain sleep metrics. An Apple solution could possibly provide more granular information, however.

Sleep tracking does bring with it several challenges. Most notable is the fact that wearable sleep tracking will require a battery that lasts through the night. Currently, Apple Watch battery life maxes out at 18 hours on the latest Series 4 models.

As an alternative to increasing Apple Watch battery life, Bloomberg suggests Apple’s sleep-tracking tech might utilize a low-power mode.

Would you consider sleep tracking a big selling point for a future Apple Watch? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Source: Bloomberg


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.