Apple Watch Executive Kevin Lynch Discusses New Sleep Tracking and Hand Washing Features

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Following WWDC last week, Apple's VP of Technology Kevin Lynch has taken time to discuss the Apple Watch's new sleep tracking and hand washing features in watchOS 7 with publications like The Independent, CNET, and TechCrunch.


While some third-party apps provide very detailed sleep analysis, Apple's implementation of sleep tracking is fairly basic, focusing only on duration of sleep, movement disturbances, and heart rate. Lynch told CNET that this simplicity was an intentional decision, noting that Apple did research and found that extra data was not entirely useful.

"Movement of your arm is an input, but it's not a complete picture of what's going on inside your brain," said Lynch, as an example.

"You can't really coach yourself to have more or less REM stages," he added. "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."

Lynch said that, through research, Apple ultimately determined that duration of sleep is the most important metric.

"In any of these adventures we go on when building things here we ask, what will make the most difference for people that, from a mainstream perspective, will be easy, helpful and empowering," Lynch told The Independent.

Like many other health features on the Apple Watch, the Sleep app provides positive reinforcement only. If users meet their sleep goals, they receive positive feedback, but if they do not, the Watch stays silent.

"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," Lynch told CNET. "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."

As for hand washing coaching in watchOS 7, Lynch told TechCrunch that the functionality was the result of "years of work." The feature encourages users to wash their hands for a CDC-recommended 20 seconds by providing a countdown with haptic feedback. If a user opts in, the feature automatically activates when the sound of hand washing is detected.

Article Link: Apple Watch Executive Kevin Lynch Discusses New Sleep Tracking and Hand Washing Features
 

dannyyankou

macrumors G3
Mar 2, 2012
9,061
15,040
Westchester, NY
The vibration alarm on the watch isn’t very effective. Is there a way to turn your iPhone alarm on while the watch is on?

I mean, I guess I can always just turn on my HomePod alarm too.
 

nattK

macrumors regular
Sep 17, 2014
233
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The Upside Down
I agree with him regarding sleep tracking. Short of an EEG, it’s nearly impossible to measure REM accurately let alone by something strapped onto your wrist. I like how Apple chose to forgo in-depth sleep tracking with the watch instead of providing inaccurate data.
 

gsmornot

macrumors 68040
Sep 29, 2014
3,242
2,793
The vibration alarm on the watch isn’t very effective. Is there a way to turn your iPhone alarm on while the watch is on?

I mean, I guess I can always just turn on my HomePod alarm too.
No but I wish there were. So, I have a separate alarm for that.
 

Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
33,203
34,205
Love the 20 second handwash feature. How many people before the pandemic and before this feature was available, knew to actually wash their hands 20 seconds for it to be affective for proper sanitization? (Rhetorical) I’m guessing not many. It’s at least serves as a reminder [Being the watch is health oriented] to be more mindful of thoroughly washing your hands for the proper amount of time.

It’s a Genius feature!
 

fumi2014

macrumors regular
May 21, 2014
186
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California
Snowflake generation. I almost fell off my chair watching this at the WWDC. An app to tell you how long you're washing your hands for. I wonder how many well-paid engineers were tasked with solving this problem.

It reminds me that this company has way to much money and resources if they can afford to devote those things to this.
 

Rogifan

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
21,354
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Seems more like this was one area Apple didn’t want to Sherlock 3rd party apps.
 

axantas

macrumors 6502
Jun 29, 2015
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Edit: from @nebulousfish


Will a watch be able to tell the difference between brushing your teeth and picking your nose vigorously?
...picking your nose vigorously with one hand, ok 😇

Generally, adding these kind of special reminders are obviously a selling argument. It is a matter of software and analyzing the "movement" *cough*. Easy thing though. If it is possible, just add it, as long as it is not disturbing me. But there are certain things, I am just able to do to the best of my own knowledge...
 
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TeamMojo

macrumors regular
Feb 3, 2004
125
148
This is less useful for someone like myself who actually suffers from sleep related issues. I need to know if the quality of my sleep was good, not just the duration. So I will probably need some third party solutions as well. Really hoping they add some other more useful health data like oximetry or sweat analysis. They are so cautious with the growth of the watch that it seems to be taking forever to evolve. I think with the always on display and good balance between CPU/ features/ battery life that the watch is just coming in to a really useful state now after 5 models.
 
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MarkIII

macrumors newbie
Nov 18, 2015
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I think the metrics they are going to provide is underwhelming. I understand that Apple is all about simplicity but it just comes off to me as they still don’t know what they are actually doing in this space and they are still in their infancy in regards to tracking. That or their software isn’t reliable/consistant enough yet to track metrics beyond basic sleep/wake cycles. Having all the information that Fitbit or other watches provides is not harmful to anyone. The way Fitbit displays it shows you the basic info up front and if that’s all your interested in then your good. But if your like me, you can dig in and really see great additional info on your sleep, REM, 02 levels, heart rate. I get that I can’t control these factors but at least it gives me the insight that I prefer. Apples first steps truly look like first steps and they are playing it off as intentional instead in my humble viewpoint. I was excited for this feature to finally come but my Fitbit will continue to be my smart watch of choice going forward.
 

Allwrong

macrumors newbie
Sep 27, 2018
11
11
Ohio
Snowflake generation. I almost fell off my chair watching this at the WWDC. An app to tell you how long you're washing your hands for. I wonder how many well-paid engineers were tasked with solving this problem.

It reminds me that this company has way to much money and resources if they can afford to devote those things to this.
If you had fallen out of the chair I would hope you had an Apple Watch with fall detection. Is that also snowflake generation?

Just because a feature isn't for you doesn't mean others will not benefit from it. As pointed out by another poster I am sure not many people knew how long to wash their hands to be effective.

Some companies have too much money and some people have too much time.
 
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iLoveDeveloping

macrumors 6502
Sep 24, 2009
344
951
Ireland
Oh great. Guess I have to keep my Fitbit after all. Sleep tracking is amazing on it, especially with blood oxygen tracking. I was so enthusiastic about this until that terrible interview. Pointless for Fitbit users, if you can’t do something better than what’s out there what’s the point!!! Typical Apple under Tim Cook. Half a**ed.
 

FellaMeLad

macrumors regular
Jun 22, 2015
110
119
Edit: from @nebulousfish


Will a watch be able to tell the difference between brushing your teeth and picking your nose vigorously?
Or... what about when you're doing that... other thing... You know... 😇 I guess I'd better make sure my watch is on the other wrist, then.
 
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