The Apple Watch will finally get native sleep tracking through a software update later this year. The Apple Watch will be able to measure the time you've spent asleep and awake and help you prepare for bed. But Fitbit offers more comprehensive metrics and, more important, longer battery life — making it much easier to track your sleep without scrambling for a charger. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
When Apple's watchOS 7 update launches rolls out later this year, the Apple Watch will finally be able to monitor your sleep — a capability that has only been possible by installing a third-party app until this point. The addition addresses one of the Apple Watch's main shortcomings compared to other fitness trackers like those made by Fitbit. Given Apple's big push into health over the past several years, it's no surprise that the company is focusing on new areas like sleep. But if you've used a Fitbit device in the past, don't expect the Apple Watch's sleep tracking experience to be a direct comparison. The Apple Watch is more limited in terms of the metrics it tracks during your slumber. But most importantly, the Apple Watch's battery life isn't as long as that of Fitbit's smartwatches and wristbands, which can make it challenging to get through the day without scrambling for a charge after wearing it overnight. Apple's sleep features, rather, are more focused on the entire experience of sleep, meaning it helps you prepare for bed rather than just tracking what happens once you're asleep. Apple hasn't said when its watchOS 7 software will officially launch, but the public beta is available today. If you do plan on trying the public beta, keep in mind that it's not the final version of the software so you may experience bugs. And you also won't be able to roll your watch's software back to the previous version. Apple typically releases the final version of its new watch software in the fall. Here's a closer look at what it's been like to track my sleep using the Apple Watch. SEE ALSO: Amazon is taking on Apple and Fitbit with a smart wristband and an app that tracks your sleep, judges the emotion in your voice, and scans your body to calculate body fat First, here's how the Apple Watch helps you get ready for bed.
With iOS 14 and watchOS 7, Apple wants to help you fight the urge to pick up your phone when it's almost time for bed. You can set a bedtime in the iPhone's Health app, which can kick your phone into Sleep Mode automatically when the time comes. Sleep Mode turns on Do Not Disturb Mode to minimize distractions before bed. It also locks the Apple Watch's screen so that it doesn't turn on when you move your wrist during sleep. You can choose to have Sleep Mode turn on manually or at your set bedtime. Aside from your predetermined bedtime, Apple also offers an option called Wind Down, which lets you set a routine to help you get ready for bed.
This can include launching a playlist or podcast to listen to before bed, or an app for journaling or meditation, as well as triggering a Home scene to turn down your smart lights. In addition to launching a routine, Wind Down also turns on sleep mode. During my time using watchOS 7 and iOS 14 so far, I set Wind Down to begin 45 minutes before it was time to head to bed. I appreciated the notification-free lock screen and "Sleep Well" greeting on my iPhone. But kicking my phone and watch into Sleep Mode didn't necessarily stop me from reaching for my phone to check my email one last time before bed or scroll through Instagram. I often found myself twisting the Digital Crown to unlock my watch and get one last look at how much progress I made toward my fitness goals before calling it a day. When it comes to sleep tracking, the Apple Watch mostly measures the amount of time you spent asleep.
The Apple Watch can monitor the amount of time you spent in bed and the amount of time you spent asleep. That can enable you to see how much rest you actually got versus the amount of time you spent in bed. It also tells you what time you fell asleep and what time you woke up, and you can view these metrics for each night you've tracked as well as trends over the past week and month. If you want to see how your average sleep time compares to your sleep goal, just tap the Sleep Goal button when looking at your data. You can also view a summary of your heart rate data throughout the night, although I had trouble locating this information since it's not in the Health app's Sleep section. Instead, you have to navigate to the Heart section, tap into a specific heart rate reading, select "Show More Heart Rate Data," and check the "Sleep" metric. Fitbit, however, provides a much deeper dive into the quality of your sleep.
Fitbit provides a wealth of sleep data, including how much time you spent in each specific stage of sleep — REM, light, and deep sleep — in addition to time spent awake. You can also view benchmarks that compare your metrics against the typical results for people of your age and gender. Fitbit issues a score that assesses the quality of your sleep, but you need to sign up for a Fitbit Premium membership to get deeper insights. Fitbit determines your sleep score by looking at the duration of your sleep, how much time you spend in deep and REM sleep, and how relaxed you were during sleep. That last metric is measured by examining your heart rate during sleep and how much you were tossing and turning. Like the Apple Watch, Fitbit also allows you to set a sleep schedule and sleep goals. It can also send you reminders for when it's time to go to bed. Fitbit's biggest advantage over Apple when it comes to sleep tracking is its long battery life.
In my past experience, the Fitbit Versa 2 lasts around four or five days on a single charge with the always-on-display feature turned off. With that capability switched on, I've been able to get about two days of battery life. That also lines up with the experience other reviewers have had with the Fitbit Versa 2 when it comes to battery life. In both cases, that's much longer than the battery life on the Apple Watch Series 5, which I've found to last for about a day and a half. Until this point, it didn't really matter that the Apple Watch couldn't offer multi-day battery life. Like many Apple Watch owners, I've gotten into the routine of charging my watch overnight alongside my iPhone. But using the Apple Watch as a sleep tracker has forced me to re-think this and develop new habits. It's not impossible or impractical to get through the day without charging your watch overnight. You can, for example, charge the watch briefly throughout the workday when you probably don't have much use for it anyhow. That's the approach I've decided to take recently, considering I'm not using it for activity tracking or social notifications when I'm at my desk. The bigger issue, though, isn't the convenience — it's changing my routine to actually remember to take my watch off and charge it. On more than one occasion, I've gotten into my gym gear and was ready to hit the treadmill to suddenly receive a notification that my watch had only 10% battery left. This rarely happens when using a Fitbit device. Overall, the Apple Watch is helpful for getting some insight into how much sleep you're getting, but it has major drawbacks that for some could be deal breakers.
If you make a greater effort that I have to embrace tools like sleep mode and Wind Down, the Apple Watch can also help you limit your screen time before bed. But its current battery life holds it back from being as useful as it can be as an all-purpose wellness tracker. For me, monitoring my sleep with the Apple Watch comes with the risk of not being able to track all of my physical activity during the day if I forget to charge it. That may not be the case for everyone, and many may find it much easier to adjust to a new charging routine than I have. But if you're planning to start using your Apple Watch as a sleep tracker anytime soon — either through any of the third-party apps currently available or Apple's native feature in the fall — it's something to definitely keep in mind.
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Summary List Placement When you're not getting a good night's sleep, it's hard to be productive,...Summary List Placement When you're not getting a good night's sleep, it's hard to be productive, balance your emotions, and stay healthy. We all know the importance of eating right and exercising, but sleep is just as key to promoting a healthy and happy life. Just as you track your steps or count your calories, you should be keeping tabs on your sleep routine. Luckily, your Apple Watch can help you with that. All new Apple Watches come with a built-in sleep tracking app, simply called "Sleep." It can detect when you're sleeping, track how you're sleeping, and more. However, if you're looking for more detailed sleep analysis or features — some apps track your REM cycles, and some can even play music — you might want to look into a third-party app. Here's a comparison of the leading sleep-tracking apps currently available for the Apple Watch, including the built-in Sleep app. The official Apple Watch Sleep app Cost to download: Free and built-in Paid membership: No The built-in Sleep app was added in the watchOS 7 update, which is exclusive to the Apple Watch Series 3 and newer. If you have a compatible Watch but don't have watchOS 7, be sure to update it. Your Apple Watch has the ability to detect when you're sleeping and for how long, based on micromovements that signal respiration during sleep. The Sleep app can also detect periods of wake and sleep throughout the night — all put together in a handy little chart that tracks your sleep schedule over time. All your sleep data will also be automatically synced to your iPhone. You can use the Sleep app in conjunction with your Watch's Wind Down, Sleep Mode, and Do Not Disturb features. This can help you develop a specialized routine before bed, which can include a customized watch face, bedtime reminders, screen dimming, and more. Your Watch also has the ability to wake you up by delivering light vibrations or soft sounds. Although the Apple Watch Sleep app offers a lot of features to sync your devices together, it doesn't provide as detailed sleep data analysis as some of the other third-party apps available from the App Store. AutoSleep Cost to download: $3.99 Paid membership: No AutoSleep offers a super quick setup — you don't even need to make an account. Perfect for people who like to lay in bed and watch TV or read a book, AutoSleep requires you to tell the app that you're going to sleep (through its Lights Off function). In other words, a six-hour, unmoving Netflix binge will never trick it into thinking you've fallen asleep. You can activate Lights Off directly from your Apple Watch and track how long it takes you to fall asleep. You can view your sleep session on a graph that plots how deep your sleep was, as well as your heart rate over time. It'll show the peaks and troughs in your sleep that indicate when you woke up and when you were in sound slumber. The sleep rings show your time asleep, your time having quality sleep, your time in deep sleep, and your sleeping heart rate. You can set goals for each of these, and the rings will compare with your goals, letting you know how well you've done. There's also a feature to show your "sleep bank" for the week. This is based on you getting a full eight hours a night. If you sleep less, you'll go into debt, and if you sleep more, you'll have extra credit. Overall, AutoSleep provides a decent amount of data and you can compare day-to-day to see how your lifestyle affects your sleep. For the one-off charge of $3.99, it's a great value. Sleep++ Cost to download: Free Paid membership: No, but offers in-app purchases Sleep++ is the most basic of the available sleep apps, but it's free to download and has no hidden extra costs. You can choose to have your sleep tracked in auto mode or manual mode. Auto mode will automatically track your sleep, using your movements — or lack thereof — to know when you're in dreamland. If you use manual mode, you'll have to tell the app when you're going to sleep and when you wake up. Press "Start Sleeping" and then "Stop Sleeping" on your Apple Watch or in the iPhone app. You won't get much data from this app, just one bar showing you how deep your sleep was. However, it's totally free and a great place to start your sleep-tracking routine. Sleep Cycle: Cost to download: Free Paid membership: 1 month free, then $29.99/year to get trend data and premium features Sleep Cycle has the unique feature of a built-in alarm with a "Wake up phase," that automatically wakes you up at the optimal time, based on your sleep pattern. Set the time you need to wake up by, and the app will wake you (using haptic vibrations on your watch) up to 30 minutes before when you're in your lightest phase of sleep. You can adjust that time frame in the app if you want a longer window of time before you're woken up. If you buy the paid version (you get a 1-month trial to test it out first), you'll unlock premium features, like a sleep aid to provide you with soothing sounds, weather alerts when you wake up, and heart rate monitoring. Although the features may be better than the other apps, you won't receive a data analysis of your sleep cycle. SleepWatch Cost to download: Free Paid membership: 7 days free, $3.99/month or $29.99/year to gain access to better analysis SleepWatch provides the most data of any of the tested apps, but you'll have to buy a membership to make the most of it, as well as receive heart rate comparisons and comprehensive sleep analyses. The paid membership will give you a numeric value for your quality of sleep — think of it as your sleep credit score! You'll also get data based on your sleep patterns, a ratio of light-to-restful sleep, and your heart rate. You can view this data on your Apple Watch, as well as on the mobile app. You can set your sleep goal and adjust the sensitivity of the sleep detection. The Smart Bedtime Reminder is another paid feature that will remind you to go to sleep at a certain time to improve your sleep rhythm. If you love to analyze data and see how changing your lifestyle can affect your sleep, then this is the app for you. Related coverage from Tech Reference: How to update your Apple Watch manually or automatically, and troubleshoot any updating issues How to change your Apple Watch's face from your iPhone, and customize its color, style, and layout How to change your Apple Watch password or reset it if you've forgotten it How to connect your Strava fitness app to the Health app on your iPhone How to turn on handwashing detection on your Apple Watch to track your handwashing activity SEE ALSO: The best pillows for your bed Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why babies can't eat honey
Here's what it's like to use the new Apple Watch, which has an important feature that it was missing before
Apple just unveiled the Apple Watch Series 5, which comes in new titanium and ceramic casings...Apple just unveiled the Apple Watch Series 5, which comes in new titanium and ceramic casings and has an always-on display. Like the name suggests, the always-on display allows you to view information at a glance without moving your wrist to turn the screen on — a feature that brings a lot more convenience to the Apple Watch. Here's a brief look at the Apple Watch, based on the few minutes I had with it. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. CUPERTINO, California — Apple just unveiled an updated version of the Apple Watch that comes with a new always-on display, a built-in compass, and new titanium and ceramic finishes. The new watch, called the Series 5, starts at $400 and will be launching on September 20. That always-on display is important for the Apple Watch because it makes it much better at its most basic job: functioning as a wristwatch. Now that the Apple Watch has an always-on display, you can just glance down at your wrist to see the time and other information without having to move your wrist to turn on the screen. That brings the Apple Watch up to speed with rivals like Fitbit, which just announced the Versa 2, another smartwatch with an always-on screen. Samsung's Galaxy Watch also has a screen that can stay on to show the time and other bits of information, even if you're not looking directly at it. I spent a few minutes trying out the new Apple Watch Series 5 after Apple's press event. Here's a preview of what it's like to use.When the Apple Watch Series 5's display isn't activated, it will look something like this. You can still see important information, but the display is dimmer to conserve battery life. Then when you raise your wrist, the screen brightens up as usual. Although Fitbit's Versa 2 also has an always-on display, Apple has a critical advantage: The watch faces are optimized to work in always-on mode, unlike Fitbit's. That makes the transition feel much more seamless because you're essentially looking at the same content on-screen when moving between always-on mode and standard mode. This worked pretty seamlessly during my brief hands-on time with the device, but I did notice that it worked best when I raised my wrist slowly. Other features are designed to work in always-on mode too. It's not just the watch faces that are optimized to work when the Apple Watch's display isn't activated. The workout app also takes advantage of the watch's always-on functionality. When you're running a workout, for example, the screen will dim, and the watch will pare back certain details to conserve power. In always-on display mode, for example, the milliseconds next to your workout timer will disappear. But when you raise your wrist, the screen will light up, and the workout app will appear the same as usual. The Apple Watch's new titanium casing felt surprisingly light. For the first time, the Apple Watch is available in a titanium casing, which comes in natural and space-black color options. The titanium version feels incredibly lightweight, much more so than the stainless steel and new ceramic version. It feels almost as light as the entry-level aluminum Apple Watch. And the ceramic edition has a slick, clean feel. The ceramic Apple Watch has a glossy look that's reminiscent of Apple's classic white plastic MacBook. The company also says the ceramic finish is scratch-resistant. It looks like there's a lot of potential for the Apple Watch's compass to be integrated into apps. During my brief time with the watch, I saw how the built-in compass could be used to make navigation apps more useful. For example, in the Maps app, the compass will make it possible for you to see which direction you're facing, right on your wrist. There's also a stargazing app that uses the compass to display the precise direction of specific constellations. But overall, it feels like it could be a relatively minor upgrade. Features like a built-in compass and an always-on display are definitely welcome additions that make using the Apple Watch more convenient. And the fact that the cellular version can now be used to contact emergency services internationally boosts its usefulness when it comes to safety. But upgrades like this suggest that the smartwatch market is maturing in a similar way as the smartphone industry — that's to say that wearables are now so advanced that there are only minor ways to improve them. The major leaps — like standalone cellular connectivity in a sleek form factor — may be behind us. Now we're just waiting for Apple to make two other important improvements: native sleep tracking and battery life that lasts for multiple days.
Fitbit's new Versa 2 comes with a few useful features the Apple Watch still doesn't have....Fitbit's new Versa 2 comes with a few useful features the Apple Watch still doesn't have. These include an always-on display, multi-day battery life, and native sleep tracking. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Apple and Fitbit are two of the largest smartwatch makers in the world by market share. And for years, they've been competing to be first when it comes adding new features to their respective watches. The Cupertino, California-based iPhone maker may be ahead of Fitbit in certain aspects, especially when it comes to its larger App Store and unique health-oriented features like electrocardiogram monitoring. But Fitbit's newest smartwatch, the $200 Versa 2, pulls ahead of Apple in three important ways. SEE ALSO: The best smartphones you can buy right now for $300 and under Always-on display The Versa 2's new AMOLED screen comes with an optional always-on display, which means the screen will stay on to show information like the time, date, and battery life, even when it's not activated. That makes the Versa 2 much more useful as a wristwatch, since you can just glance down to see the time without having to press a button or move your wrist. The Apple Watch, by comparison, requires that you wake the screen either by raising your wrist, rotating the crown up, or tapping the screen. When you tap the screen to wake up the watch, you can choose to have the display stay on for 15 or 70 seconds before it times out. Multi-day battery life Fitbit says its new smartwatch should last for more than five days on a single charge, meaning you shouldn't have to worry about remembering your charger if you go away for the weekend. That's far longer than the Apple Watch, which in my experience usually lasts for 1.5 to two days before I have to charge it. It's unclear how well Fitbit's claims live up to reality, but in my previous experience, Fitbit's first-generation Versa was able to last for around the same amount of time. But if you choose to take advantage of the optional new always-on screen, your watch will probably only last for roughly two days. Sleep tracking Fitbit devices have long offered basic sleep tracking, and the company is expanding that yet again with the Versa 2. The company is rolling out a new feature called Sleep Score, which rates the quality of your sleep based on factors like your heart rate, how long you've slept, and how much time you've spent in light, deep, and REM sleep. If you want to track your sleep with the Apple Watch, you'll need to download a third-party app, some of which cost money.