watchOS 7Source: Apple

What you need to know

  • Kevin Lynch sat down with CNET to talk about its new Sleep app in watchOS 7.
  • The Apple executive talked about how the company wanted to focus on less with the feature.
  • The Sleep app will be available on watchOS 7 when it is released this fall.

One of the big Apple Watch features that many have been waiting for is a built-in sleep tracker. Apple announced just that at this year's WWDC, and Kevin Lynch, who heads up software development for the Apple Watch, sat down to talk about it.

In an interview with CNET, the Apple executive said that, after immense testing, they found that helping people get the correct amount of sleep was the area where they should focus.

"Many sleep apps show information about REM cycles and other data like that ... And we've looked a lot into that ... Even in our studies, we had people wear EEGs on their heads, so we got insight into the electrical activity of their brain, in addition to what we're able to sense on the wrist with Apple Watch ... And we've learned a lot about how the main thing here is really about duration."

Lynch says that, while other sleep apps provide users with tons of different data points when sleeping, the company believes that guiding users to bed is the area that they believe will have the biggest impact. The new Wind Down feature, which suggests shortcuts such as dimming your lights or playing a sleep-related podcast, is built just for that.

"You can't really coach yourself to have more or less REM stages ... We felt like that wasn't the best way Apple could add value here on sleep. We focused on the transition to the bed, which we think is way more actionable, and will result in people getting a better night's sleep, which then has secondary effects of perhaps your REM stages sorting themselves."

While many currently like to track and receive feedback on every aspect of their activity, Apple is only going to provide positive feedback for when users achieve their sleep goals. Lynch says that negative feedback was found to only compound sleep problems for those with existing issues.

"There could be anxiety that people have about going to sleep, and that anxiety itself can actually cause more problems in terms of going to sleep ... Many people are already well aware that they haven't been getting enough sleep, and so we're not adding to that, but we are positively acknowledging when you have achieved your goals."

The Sleep app and all of the new sleeping features of watchOS 7 will be released to the public this fall.