I wanted so much more from Mindfulness in watchOS 8, not just a Breathe clone

Apple Watch SE using Reflect in watchOS 8
Apple Watch SE using Reflect in watchOS 8 (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

When watchOS 8 was first released to beta testers, I was pretty stoke that Apple had incorporated some more mental health features. I was already using some features on my Apple Watch to help deal with my anxiety and depression. Still, I always wanted more tools at my disposal. So, when watchOS 8 introduced the new Mindfulness app, I thought my prayer was answered. It turns out I was wrong.

What is Mindfulness

In case you don't know, the Mindfulness app is the new Breathe app. It still houses the Breathe feature, but it's also where you find the new Reflect feature. The good news is this feature is available on your best Apple Watch, since unlike other features in watchOS 8, it will be coming to every device that can run the software, The bad news is that it kind of sucks.

Why Reflect sucks

Apple Watch Breathe app (Image credit: iMore)

Do you remember how Breathe works? It allows you to do a quick guiding breathing session on your Apple Watch, so you can take a beat, center yourself, calm down, or just enjoy silence for a moment. It's great. Breathe works as intended, and whether you use it a lot or very little, it always accomplishes what it sets out to do. I'm not sure I can say the same thing for Reflect.

Reflect asks you to focus on a question or a thought for a minute to allow you to center yourself in the moment and practice mindfulness. It's a neat idea, but in execution, it's really just a Breathe copy. All Reflect really does is ask you to set aside a minute of your day to focus on something else. It may ask you to "remember a time where you had to solve a problem" or to "notice whatever sensations your body is feeling" instead of focus on your breath, but that's not much different.

Apple has to start somewhere

Perhaps, I was the problem. I had a lot of high hopes that watchOS 8 would give me a ton of useful mental health tools, but Apple almost always walks before it runs. I do not doubt that the new Mindfulness app could become home to a host of other features in later iterations of the software, but it certainly leaves me disappointed as of right now.

My ultimate dream is that Apple starts treating mental health more like physical health on the Apple Watch. I don't know if having a mental health ring — like the Activity Rings — would be the best answer, but it would be nice to have some way to track how much time you've spent working on your mental health every day. Much like the Activity Rings, you could even set different goals. Use the Reflect app for one minute? That's a minute you took in your day to manage your mental health, and your "ring" or progress bar inches closer to being complete.

For now, I'll have to settle with the tools we have.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.