Yesterday marked the launch of WatchOS 2 to the public, and along with it came a bevy of application updates and new app announcements taking advantage of the new native apps, 3rd party complications, and fitness features that the OS update enables. Out of the various announcements that I saw yesterday, the most interesting and important to me came from iOS developer (underscore) David Smith, with his launching of a new app to track one's sleep using the Apple Watch - Sleep++.
From the Apple Watch's inception I've had my doubts that it would function well - or even at all - in the role of a sleep tracker. The watch's good-but-not-too-far-over-24-hours-good battery life and lack of a sleep tracking function built in both discouraged my hopes, but after trying out Underscore's latest app for last night's sleep - I have to say that he's renewed my hope that this might work out after all.
The app itself is dead simple, with the iOS app displaying graphs of your sleep for each day and how restless you were, along with the total amount of sleep you got that night. The design and information density is right in line with David's other apps like Pedometer++ and FeedWrangler - and he's done well in carrying on the trend of sparse but functional designs.
The watch app is similarly simple, and is able to fit all the same UI elements into the watch's small display along with the all-important "Start Sleeping" button. Hit that button when you're ready to start tracking sleep, and hit it again to "Stop Sleeping" when you're done. Dead simple.
The watch app also comes with large and small complications that you can use as a quick shortcut to "Start Sleeping" - which jumps you straight to the main screen of the app. I set up a dedicated "sleeping" watch face, complete with the Sleep++ complication, as well as shortcuts to my alarms and what time the sun rises.
This is all well and good, but the main concern I had with such an idea was the battery life of the watch and if I'd still be able last all day if I wasn't charging overnight. From my extremely brief testing (cough - only one night so far cough) it seems as if David's proposed solution - charging the watch when you're getting ready for bed and then again when you're getting ready in the morning - might actually work out as he's indicated.
As a disclaimer - I did end up charging my watch a bit irregularly throughout the day yesterday because of Watch OS 2 which required the watch to be "plugged in" when updating, so my results as to how well this charging setup works may vary in the coming days.
Having said that, last night I was able to charge my watch up to 86% before bed, track my sleep in airplane mode overnight, wake up with 80% still left, and then charge the watch fully up to 100% while I got ready this morning. I tracked my sleep data, it got fed into HealthKit, and I got to wake up with my watch tapping my wrist as opposed to a blaring alarm. Not bad.
I've used my iPhone in conjunction with apps like Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock or Pillow before to gather the same sorts of sleep data, but I can tell you right now that they likely weren't as accurate just being in my bed and not on my wrist, they weren't as gentle about waking me up as a tap was, and the apps themselves were much more bloated and more of a hassle when compared with Sleep++.
So far, I find myself really happy with Sleep++. Up until now the concept of sleep tracking with the Apple Watch has been a doubt in most people's minds, but with the introduction of this app David Smith has proven that it might not be so far-fetched. I'm looking forward to using the app more over time, and I'm also looking forward to seeing where David takes the app in the coming months and years. He's done a bang-up job so far.