Is Sleep Tracking a Difference Maker for the Apple Watch?

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Sleep tracking has been considered by many to be the Apple Watch’s white whale since the original Series 0 released. While other competing health and fitness products have offered this capability for a few years, battery life has prevented Apple from including it as a built-in feature on the Watch. One of the recent pre-release rumors has Apple finally adding this in their 5th generation product, but I can’t help but wonder if this is really a difference maker for the Watch.

I know that sleep is important. I know that a lack of sleep has been tied to all kinds of health issues and that it is a huge problem, especially here in the United States. In a world where the constant miniaturization of technology allows us to use sensors to monitor just about anything in our lives, it only makes sense to monitor how we sleep. I just wonder if it matters to have it built into the Apple Watch.

I know that other products have been able to get the mix of features and battery life right and make sleep tracking feasible. However, the existence of these products hasn’t slowed down the Apple Watch one bit and I don’t think that can be ignored. I am sure that there are some buyers out there who went with a different smartwatch or fitness band because of this, but the Apple Watch has still quickly grown to a position market dominance and held it, despite that. If sleep tracking was all-important. this wouldn’t be the case.

I don’t have anything against sleep tracking, mind you. However, I am curious what the impact on battery life will be. The device’s size isn’t changing this year and Micro LED screen technology, which is more efficient and should allow Apple to make Watches smaller and still allow better battery life, still isn’t ready for prime time. With no significant hardware changes this year other than a spec bump, where will the additional battery life to monitor a user’s sleep come from?

This is why I still have my doubts that full sleep tracking shows up on the Apple Watch Series 5. If you read the rumor reports, there was some hedging about whether this new feature will be announced this coming Tuesday, or not. I can see a good case for why Apple might hold off until next year to insure that battery life isn’t an issue for users that try to take advantage of it. Considering that there isn’t an overwhelming outcry for it, releasing too soon would cause more problems than it solves.

I also wonder where Apple is in terms of sleep tracking, software-wise. They notably bought Beddit several months ago, but that isn’t a guarantee of success. I bought the Beddit 3.5 sensor, which is a sensor strip that lays under the bed’s fitted sheet, back in December to give it a try. While I wrote about it positively initially, I quickly grew frustrated with itand stopped using it altogether earlier this year. I couldn’t use the automatic mode because I often sit or lay on my bed to watch TV and to write. Having to manually manage starting sleep recording caused me to miss many nights. Then there was the real issue- the sensor doesn’t actually touch you, so there is a lot of important sleep data that it can’t track. I wasn’t getting enough out of it to make it worth the trouble.

That last issue won’t be a problem with the Apple Watch. However, if Beddit’s tech is the foundation of their sleep tracking software, then I wonder how they will handle transitioning to a worn sensor. Considering how well Apple has done with health and fitness tracking and how much they have improved in all aspects since the Series 0 Apple Watch, it’s smart to give them the benefit of the doubt here, though. When sleep tracking does come, I do feel confident that it will surpass what Beddit products currently offer. Still, my sub-par experience with that product is a big reason why I’m not particularly excited about the rumors that it may be coming soon.

What do you think about sleep tracking? AM I over-reacting? Are my Beddit and battery life concerns overblown? Is this a killer feature for you? If it requires the new hardware, will you be more interested in upgrading to the Series 5 to get it? Let me know in the Comments section below, on our Facebook page, on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog, on Instagram, or on Flipboard.

 


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