Apple's watchOS 7 sleep tracking might be a miss, but its data will help third-party apps anyway

watchOS 7 Shortcuts Complications
watchOS 7 Shortcuts Complications (Image credit: Joseph Keller / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple's watchOS 7 will gain rudimentary sleep tracking.
  • Apple has gone for a different approach to third-party apps.
  • But those apps will still benefit from the new watchOS 7 data, too.

With the arrival of watchOS 7 – likely to happen next month – Apple will add native sleep tracking to the Apple Watch for the first time. It's taking a different approach to the numerous third-party apps that already do it, too, with Apple's take being much more holistic. And that means it won't do what everyone wants it to.

Here's what Apple says watchOS 7 will do for those looking to keep tabs on their sleeping habits.

With watchOS 7, Apple Watch introduces sleep tracking, taking a holistic approach to sleep by providing valuable tools to help users get the desired amount of sleep, get to bed on time, and create a pre-bedtime routine to meet their sleep goals. Through the detection of micro-movements from the watch's accelerometer, which signals respiration during sleep, Apple Watch intelligently captures when the wearer is sleeping and how much sleep they get each night. In the morning, the wearer will see a visualization of their previous night's sleep, including periods of wake and sleep. They will also see a chart showing their weekly sleep trend.

Apple Watch watchOS 7 Sleep Health App

Apple Watch watchOS 7 Sleep Health App (Image credit: Apple)

That's great, but it's lacking when compared to the data that is collected by apps like Sleep++ and AutoSleep. Thankfully, third-party apps will still be around after watchOS 7 and, importantly, they'll also benefit from the new data it collects.

That's something Sleep++ developer David Smith has noted after his own testing during a sleepless night. Not only can watchOS 7 notice the poor quality sleep better than watchOS 6.x, but when that data was added to Sleep++'s own data, the result was a better graph.

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That's great news for those of us who want to get a fuller picture of how we sleep and were disappointed to learn that Apple's sleep tracking wasn't going to offer the information we wanted. Turns out, it can. It'll just need to be collated by a third-party app to get the best results.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.