March 14, 2019

The next Apple Watch could include a sleep-tracking feature, sources say

Daily Briefing

    Apple is reportedly testing a new sleep-tracking feature to add to its Apple Watch, Mark Gurman reports for Bloomberg.

    Cheat sheet: What you need to know about wearables

    While the new smartwatch would be the first Apple Watch with sleep-tracking capabilities, Apple has incorporated sleep-tracking hardware into some of its products in the past. For instance, the Apple Health application for iPhones has a tab for sleep analysis data that can import data from third-party sleep trackers. The company also acquired the startup Beddit, which makes a sleep-tracking sensor strip that Apple sells on its website.

    But Gurman reports the new sleep-tracking feature would better position Apple to compete with companies like FitBit and Withings, both of which already sell wearables with sleep-tracking capabilities.

    How the new watch might work

    People familiar with the work tell Gurman that Apple has been rigorously testing the new watch feature at secret sites near its headquarters for several months. The new sleep-tracking feature could operate similarly to Fitbit's sleep monitor, Gurman reports. Fitbit's device monitors the wearer's heart rate to determine when they fall asleep, how long they are sleeping, and the quality of their sleep. Fitbit also differentiates between deep, light, and REM sleep.

    If the testing proves successful, Apple could add the new function to its Apple Watches by 2020, the sources said.

    A key hurdle to success, according to Gurman, is the battery life of Apple Watches. Smartwatches with sleep-tracking capabilities usually have batteries that can last multiple days, so they can track sleeping overnight. For instance, Fitbits are marketed as being able to last seven days on one charge. But so far, every Apple Watch model has been advertised as having enough battery power to last one day without needing a charge.

    To increase the longevity of the new watch, Apple might increase the battery life of its smartwatches or enable the sleep tracker to run on a low-power mode throughout the night, according to Gurman. On the other hand, the company may keep the battery life as is, and advertise that the new watch with the sleep-tracking feature has to be recharged in the morning, Gurman reports.

    Apple did not respond to Bloomberg's request for comment on the company's plans for the new feature (Gurman, Bloomberg, 2/26).

    Cheat sheet: What you need to know about wearables

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