I first reviewed AutoSleep by David Walsh in December, noting how his idea of an automatic watchOS sleep tracker could bring one of the best Fitbit features to the Apple Watch. I've been wearing my Watch to bed every night, and AutoSleep has successfully logged sleep data with impressive accuracy.
As I wrote in my original review, however, AutoSleep needed an easier setup process and a cleaner design to help users understand and edit logged data. Walsh has been working hard on AutoSleep since launch, and version 3.0, released today on the App Store, addresses several of my complaints from the original app.
The setup wizard has been completely redesigned with a series of questions that make it easy to configure the app for your habits. Instead of cramming information on a single page, Sleep Quality and Day now have their own tabs in the app; the Day section is particularly handy to view a timeline of your day as logged by sensors on the iPhone and Apple Watch. Generally speaking, everything feels cleaner and better organized, and while some menus and symbols could still be explained differently, the overall app is more intuitive and accurate in its measurements.
Thanks to the fantastic battery life of the Apple Watch Series 2, wearing the Watch at night for sleep tracking isn't a problem, and AutoSleep makes automatic tracking a reality with features I can't find in any other app. If you tried the app and abandoned it at version 1.0, now's a good time to check it out again.
AutoSleep 3.0 is available on the App Store.
Alongside beta versions of iOS, macOS, and tvOS, Apple today announced the release of the first beta of watchOS 3.2. The beta has yet to appear on Apple's developer portal, but it should be available soon. Besides the standard bug fixes and performance improvements, this update includes a couple new features, one of which is called Theater Mode. From Apple's developer release notes:
Theater Mode lets users quickly mute the sound on their Apple Watch and avoid waking the screen on wrist raise. Users still receive notifications (including haptics) while in Theater Mode, which they can view by tapping the screen or pressing the Digital Crown.
This sounds like an interesting new option that could be useful in scenarios besides being at the movie theater. Personally, I'm likely to use Theater Mode when I wear my Apple Watch overnight for sleep tracking. My normal practice is to turn off Raise to Wake in the Settings app before going to bed, but this could prove an easier method.
Besides Theater Mode, the most significant update in 3.2 is enhancements to Siri. Last year iOS 10 improved Siri by enabling it to handle queries from third-party apps that fit into specific categories:
- Ride booking
- Searching photos
Though all of those areas could be handled by Siri on iOS 10, Siri on Apple Watch was previously only able to direct you to your iPhone to perform those actions. But with watchOS 3.2, that is longer the case, as Siri on the Watch is now able to perform these third-party requests.
watchOS 3.2 will likely see a public release this spring, after a couple months of beta testing is complete.
Having an Apple Watch on your wrist is not ideal for some activities. Twelve South introduced an interesting solution at CES today. The ActionSleeve is an armband for the Apple Watch. Slide your Apple Watch out of its band, pop it into the ActionSleeve, and you’re ready to go.
The ActionSleeve is already available to order on TwelveSouth’s website for $29.99. For anyone who participates in an activity where having something on your wrist is an issue, the ActionSleeve could enable fitness tracking that wasn’t possible before. For others, the fact that the ActionSleeve makes it hard (if not impossible) to glance at real-time statistics while you are exercising may be a nonstarter.
Personally, I’m intrigued. I like collecting fitness data while out on a run or walk, but I sometimes find the availability of glanceable information a distraction. Putting my Apple Watch in an armband has the appeal of enabling me to collect data that I can review later without the distraction of real-time statistics.
We’ll have more on the ActionSleeve soon. In the meantime, here is TwelveSouth’s promo video for the product:
The Apple Watch Nike+, with its special band, watch faces, and fitness features was released on October 28, 2016. Today, Nike released a series of ads titled The Man Who Kept Running starring actor-comedian Kevin Hart to show off the new watch.
The ads follow Hart as he leaves to try his new Apple Watch Nike+. The premise is that Hart disappears, but is found months later by a film crew as he runs through the desert 700 miles from home.
Each of the seven ads plays off of the question posed by the scheduling feature of the Nike+ Run Club watch app: ‘Are we running today?’ For Hart, the answer is always ‘yes.’ Each spot also highlights a unique feature of the Nike+ version of the Apple Watch that sets it apart from the regular Series 2 version.
Here is the ad that sets up the storyline for the series. The other videos can be viewed after the break.
Last month Apple encouraged Apple Watch owners in the U.S. to get out on Thanksgiving in exchange for an activity achievement and iMessage sticker. This morning Apple notified Watch users that a second activity challenge will be taking place at the start of the new year.
This new activity challenge, unlike its Thanksgiving counterpart, will take place worldwide, and completing it will take longer than just a single day. From the Activity app:
Earn this special achievement when you close all three Activity rings each day for any full week, Monday through Sunday, in January. You'll also earn special stickers in the Messages app.
Since the challenge keeps track of your Activity progress from Monday to Sunday, the official start of the challenge will be January 2nd, and the earliest it's possible to earn the achievement will be the 8th. But if you're unable to complete all three rings each day of that first week, you'll have three more chances: the weeks of January 9th, 16th, and 23rd.
Personally, I appreciate Apple's efforts to encourage greater health and fitness in life. watchOS 3's addition of activity sharing fostered healthy competition between my wife and I, and last month's Thanksgiving challenge led us both to get out and complete a 5K on the holiday, which we otherwise wouldn't have done. We're both already eager to score this new achievement trophy together.
Niantic, maker of Pokémon Go, released an Apple Watch companion app for its popular iOS game today. According to Niantic the Apple Watch app lets players:
• Log each play session as a workout, with gameplay counting toward personal Activity rings
• Receive notifications about nearby Pokémon
• Count distance toward hatching Pokémon Eggs and receiving Candy with your Buddy Pokémon
• Receive notifications about PokéStops nearby and collect items from them
• Receive notifications when Eggs hatch and medals are awarded
The Pokémon Go watchOS app, which is available as part of a free update to the game, was first announced at Apple’s September iPhone event by Niantic CEO, John Hanke.
HealthFace, by Australia-based Crunchy Bagel, maker of the 2016 Apple Design Award-winning app Streaks, is an iOS and watchOS app that uses Apple Watch complications to display data stored in Apple’s Health app. The Health app got a much-needed makeover with iOS 10, but it can still take a lot of tapping to find what you want. HealthFace cuts through the clutter by letting you pick and customize the data that’s important to you and displaying it where it’s readily available – on your Apple Watch.
I'm terrible at keeping a decent sleep schedule. I love my job and I often stay up late working on my latest story. Sometimes, I decide to relax with a videogame, I lose track of time, and suddenly it's 4 AM. I know, however, that getting enough quality sleep every night is key to a healthy lifestyle, which is why, over the past month, I've tried to wake up earlier and work out in the morning.
With these personal changes, motivation only goes so far for me. I want to be able to visualize my progress and current streak. Since getting an Apple Watch Series 2 a couple of weeks ago, I've started looking into the idea of using it as a sleep tracker again. There are some solid options on watchOS, but all of them require pressing a button in an app right before you're about to sleep. And because I normally drift off to sleep, I forget to activate sleep tracking mode and no sleep gets tracked at all.
In my limited tests with a Fitbit this month (before getting a new Apple Watch), I came away thinking that automatic sleep detection was my favorite feature of the product. You don't have to press anything and the Fitbit figures out when you started sleeping and when you woke up. Combined with a dashboard like Gyroscope, it's a great way to build an automatic sleep log that passively monitors your sleeping habits.
David Walsh, developer of MacStories favorite HeartWatch, wants to recreate the same experience with AutoSleep, an iPhone app that turns your Apple Watch into an automatic sleep tracker without installing a Watch app. I've been wearing my Watch to bed for the past week, and AutoSleep has worked surprisingly well.
Great-looking addition to the HiRise family by Twelve South: the HiRise Duet is an integrated iPhone charging stand and Apple Watch charging dock that combines a Lightning connector with a magnetic charging disc. The Apple Watch can recharge at night while in Nighstand mode (so you can easily hit the snooze button in the morning) while the iPhone stands upright. Because it's made of metal and weighs one pound, the HiRise Duet won't slide across surfaces (either because you're moving the cable or plugging in your devices). I like the Apple-inspired curved base, too.
The HiRise Duet is $119 with free shipping in the US. If I hadn't already bought a Belkin Valet Charge Dock last year (which doesn't support Nighstand mode), I'd get this one today.