Own an Apple Watch? Great. We bet you'd spent almost every moment with it when you're awake. Or asleep even (if you wear it to bed). Besides increasing productivity with its dependable assistive features ala having a virtual aide, the popular smartwatch also acts as a fitness buddy such as tracking the calories burned daily and monitoring your heart rate. But there are more in-built health functions to explore and apply than the above quintessentially known applications.
Those who wondered if their bodies are having quality sleep can tap on the sleep tracking function. Using the detection of micro-movements from the watch’s accelerometer, which signals respiration during sleep, Apple Watch intelligently records when the wearer is sleeping and how much sleep is clocked each night. In the morning, the wearer will see a visualisation of their previous night’s sleep, including periods of wake and sleep. A chart showing a weekly sleep trend can also be viewed.
This data and tools help wearers to get the desired amount of sleep, get to bed on time, and create a pre-bedtime routine to meet their sleep goals.
The body needs to recharge. Hence, the Wind Down function facilitates a customised routine before bed, including setting up a specific scene in the Home app, listening to a soothing soundscape, or using a favourite meditation app. In Sleep Mode, Apple Watch indicates 'Do Not Disturb' and automatically darkens the screen overnight.
In the morning, wearers wake up to its silent haptic alarm or gentle sounds. Furthermore, the wake-up screen shows its current battery level. Security-wise, iCloud with iCloud sync stores only encrypted sleep data from the watch.
Tracking sleeping respiratory rate is now possible too. Apple Watch uses the built-in accelerometer to measure the number of breaths per minute while sleep. This information can be viewed, along with trends over time, in the Health app on iPhone.
Upgraded Workout and Fitness app
One of the most popular Apple Watch apps gets a boost in accuracy with custom-built motion algorithms. For example, to correctly capture calorie exertion for the 'Dance' selection, Apple Watch uses advanced sensor fusion, combining data from the heart rate sensor and inputs from the accelerometer and gyroscope, which accounts for the unique challenges of measuring different body-to-arm motions typical with dance. Mindful-centric workouts like Tai Chi and Pilates also joins the Workout list.
Then there's the redesigned Activity app on iPhone, now labelled Fitness. It provides a streamlined view of data including daily Activity, Workouts, Awards, and Activity Trends on one tab, and Activity Sharing and Activity Competitions.
Save a heart via Cardio Fitness
Never ignore subtle cardio signs. As a telling indicator and predictor for overall health, wearers can use Apple Watch to monitor and classify cardio fitness.
Cardiorespiratory fitness, measured by VO2 max, is the maximum amount of oxygen the body can use during exercise, and it can be increased through physical activity. Apple Watch estimates average and higher levels of VO2 max during vigorous outdoor walks, runs, or hikes. This allows many runners and other athletes to monitor and improve performance.
Now, Apple Watch uses multiple sensors, including the optical heart sensor, GPS, and the accelerometer, to estimate lower levels. Cardio fitness measurements will also be recorded when users walk throughout the day, regardless if they are tracking a workout. Through this innovation, Apple Watch is better able to measure VO2 max for users with low cardio fitness, who may not complete high-intensity workouts.
Users can access the Cardio Fitness category in the Health app on iPhone to review whether their cardio fitness level is classified as high, above average, below average, or low, relative to people in their same age group and of the same sex. They can also see how their cardio fitness level has changed over the past week, month, or year. If the level falls within the low range, Apple Watch notifies with guidance on improving it over time.
Always be mindful
Breathing is essential and self-regulated inhalation can provide calm in a stressed setting. Now, the Breathe app reinvents to be the Mindfulness app.
Featuring an enhanced Breathe experience, it includes a new session type, Reflect. Reflect offers a mindful intention to focus on, which can be done anywhere and at any time. Each Reflect session welcomes with a thoughtful notion that invites a positive frame of mind.
For example, the wearer may see something like "Recall a time recently when you felt a sense of calm. Bring that feeling into this moment," or "Reflect on one thing you’re grateful for and think about why you appreciate it so much.” Both the Breathe and Reflect experiences also prompts useful and encouraging tips after each session too.
Keep distraction at bay by activating Focus. Using tools from phones equipped with iOS 15, Apple Watch will automatically align with any Focus made on iOS. Therefore, notifications from people and apps are filtered based on what a user is currently doing.
Focus uses on-device intelligence to make suggestions based on usage patterns. For example, when starting a workout on Apple Watch, the Focus preset for fitness is suggested.