At today’s live Apple event, the fruit unveiled the iPhone 7, Apple Watch Series 2, and the Apple Watch Nike+.
The watch — which comes in two sizes, 38 mm ($369) and 42mm ($399) —features built-in GPS tracking, a perforated sport band for ventilation, Nike+ Run Club app integration, and exclusive Siri commands for starting a run. Plus, push(y) notifications:
The Nike+ Run Club app offers daily motivation through smart run reminders, challenges from friends and even alerts informing when the weather is right to get outside. Training data, including pace, distance and heart rate are available at a glance, and through shared run summaries, the app promotes friendly competition, even allowing users to send fist bumps to each other right from the wrist.
One prompt in particular asks, “Are we running today?” No, Apple Watch,WE are not running. I am running; you are merely along for the ride, capturing all of my personal data, which you will use to expertly nag me at a later date.
The new Apple Watch will include the Breathe app — Screencap from Apple's web site
The third iteration of the Apple Watch, unveiled today at the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), will have a number of new apps focused on health, allowing it to compete more directly with wearables like Fitbit. Its new Activity app will help athletes share results with their friends; another is specially designed to track the activity of athletes bound to wheelchairs.
But, as Jay Blahnik, Apple’s director of fitness and health technologies said in his presentation today, there’s more to health than fitness.
The new Breathe app is designed to help stressed-out users relax. Several times throughout the day, the app will ping the user, saying it’s time to take a minute to breathe. The user can hit the snooze button, so the reminder comes back later if they’re in the middle of something, or they can start the exercises then. Using animations and vibrations, the app then guides the user through deep breathing exercises that last between one and five minutes. The watch detects the user’s heart rate, which shows up on the screen, to see how the exercises are working.
Deep breathing isn’t a new technique—it’s been incorporated into millennia-old practices like meditation and yoga. Although a quote from Deepak Chopra, whoGizmodo calls a “noted bullshitter,” was included in Blahnik’s presentation, the science backing up the benefits of breathing exercises is rock solid. Over the past few decades, multiple studies have shown that deep breathing can help ease symptoms of mental illnesses such as anxiety, stress, and depression, as well as physiological ailments such as pain (even during childbirth) andrecovery after heart surgery.
“You can influence asthma; you can influence chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; you can influence heart failure,” Mladen Golubic, an internist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine, told NPR. “There are studies that show that people who practice breathing exercises and have those conditions — they benefit.”
Here’s the thing, though—if you’re stressed about doing your exercises right, or if some digital system repeatedly diverts your attention while you’re occupied with something else, then there’s no point.
But for Apple Watch users who could use a little mental health break throughout the day, this app might just be a game changer.