Yesterday, Apple unveiled the next big updates to its most important platforms. iOS 14, macOS 11.0 Big Sur, and watchOS 7. (Yes, tvOS 14 got some attention, too.) And while the macOS and iOS updates saw the lion's share of attention, and continue to do so now as the developer betas reveal even more about the new software, there was a lot to like about what's coming down the pipe for Apple's smartwatches, too.
watchOS 7 just adds to what's already great about the Apple Watch, but it also raises some eyebrows.
One of the new features in the upcoming big update for watchOS 7 is sleep tracking. This has been one of the most oft-rumored upcoming features for the smartwatch, and it has always felt like a matter of time. But it has also always felt like Apple was waiting for one particular element of its smartwatch to improve before it rolled out such a feature.
One of the things that many see as a negative mark against Apple's smartwatch is longevity. I can still remember back when the original Apple Watch was unveiled and people were making fun of its exceptionally high price tag for the more premium models coupled with the less-than-stellar battery life. And now, even as we have the Series 5 on our wrists and the Series 6 is looming in the not-so-distant future, there's still some who believe the Apple Watch's battery life could be better.
I'm in that camp myself, and yet I don't even have any issues with battery life. Not with my Series 5 and not with my Series 4 before it. (I never owned an Apple Watch before the Series 4 long enough to actually judge its battery life in any meaningful capacity.) But that's because I don't do a lot with my watch on a daily basis. It's absolutely apparent to me that battery life needs some improvements on the days I do use it, though.
For example, last weekend I went on a hike that ended up taking around three hours. During that time I had the Apple Watch recording my outdoor walk so I could reach some activity goals. By the time the hike was over, and I made it back home, my watch's battery life was around 30%. I started at around 95%. And when it was time for me to go to bed the watch was sitting around 25%.
That means I probably could have made it through the night without any major issues, but I don't think I'd risk it, either. Not that there's a huge risk involved or anything, but I took the watch off like I normally do every night and let it charge while I slept.
Apple sees current (and future!) Apple Watch owners wearing their smartwatch throughout the day, using it as normal, and then keeping it on all night so they can take full advantage of the sleep tracking feature. When they wake up in the morning Apple Watch owners should connect their device to its charger, go through their morning routine, and then it should be ready to go for the next full day. All of that sounds well and good, but sometimes things happen and schedules get crazy, which means the Apple Watch may not have enough time to charge between waking up and having to leave. So charging it over night and being able to immediately put it on in the morning with a full battery just makes the most sense to me.
Which makes me wonder if we're going to see a boost in battery life with the Apple Watch Series 6 later this year. Maybe we're seeing Apple lay the groundwork with built-in sleep tracking in watchOS 7, and Apple could see this feature, along with the boosted battery life, as a way to get some current Apple Watch owners to upgrade to the newer model, and sway new customers as well.
I guess we'll have to wait and see. But, until then I get to ask: do you already wear your Apple Watch all day and all night? Or do you have to charge your smartwatch at the end of the day to make sure you have enough power for the next? Are you looking forward to the sleep tracking feature in watchOS 7? Let me know!