Tracking your every step, breath, and hour of sleep you get is a rising trend in the health tech world, and Apple seems to finally be stepping up its game to compete with other fitness trackers like Fitbit and Garmin. Today, at the company’s annual World Developer’s Conference (WWDC 2016) in San Francisco, Apple announced its newest additions to its Watch: the Activity app, Wheelchair, and Breathe.
The new Activity app will make it easier to stay up to date on exactly how many steps you have taken as the app will be live. It also shows your activity stats every time you raise your wrist. Apple seems to also be trying to increase its user base by offering new ways to interact with other Activity app users. Within the app, you can see a list, almost like a running scoreboard, of how well you are faring against your friends. This app can work well for a range of athletes. For a group of friends trying to encourage each other, you can send them your daily steps or send a word of encouragement to a friend that just hit a new record. And for those extremely competitive, type A individuals–we all know them–the app lets them send over their racing heart rate or even trash talk to a rival within their group.
For athletes who are in a wheelchair, Apple has also created an app tailored specifically to their needs. This app is actually pretty innovative. Depending on what terrain a person in a wheelchair is in, she uses different techniques in order to maneuver up a hill or get through an uneven terrain. Apple, with the help of researchers and test users, figured out each of these methods to see how to track each different method. Like the Activity app, Wheelchair also alerts users when to start rolling if they haven’t moved in a while.
Perhaps most innovative though is Apple Watch’s new app Breathe, an app designed specifically to guide users through deep breathing sessions. Mindfulness and deep breathing exercises as well as yoga and other meditation practices have been studied in recent years to potentially not only help healthy people get through the everyday stresses of life, but also many studies are now currently looking into using these exercises to help reduce pain pathways associated with chronic illnesses like MS and migraine headaches.
With its new health additions, Apple seems to allow its Apple Watch to potentially compete with other fitness tracker companies, like Fitbit, Garmin, and TomTom, by adding applications that will allow for users to get instant results, compete intensively with friends, yet at the same time learn how to take a relaxing, deep breath.
Follow all of our WWDC 2016 coverage here.