Skip to main content

The Apple Watch’s worst feature isn’t getting better with watchOS 10

Apple Watch Series 8 showing sleep tracking results.
Apple Watch Series 8 Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Apple Watch is perhaps the most popular smartwatch on the market — and for the right reasons. The vast number of features, a number of sport tracking modes, and tight integration with the iPhone make it one of the best smartwatches to buy for most people.

I’ve been using the Apple Watch SE (1st generation) since late 2020. While I’m an analog watch person, whenever I put on my Apple Watch, I’m reminded of how fluid the experience with iPhone is. But the device lacks one major functionality that its competitors are offering even on their cheaper options.

I’m talking about sleep tracking. The Apple Watch lets you track your sleep, but it isn’t accurate or up to Apple’s usual standards. I was hoping for the feature to get better with watchOS 10 … but it didn’t.

No auto sleep tracking is a big miss

Amazfit Zepp app on a phone.
Amazfit’s Zepp app with sleep data Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

To make your Apple Watch detect and track your sleeping hours, you need to go to the Health app on your iPhone, tap on Set up Sleep, and set your sleep goals, bedtime, and wake-up time. You can further select Sleep Focus to limit the notifications on your iPhone. On the other hand, when I’m wearing an Amazfit smartwatch, all I need to do to enable sleep tracking is toggle a button inside the Zepp app. That’s it. No process to set up, no logging of sleep time or wake-up hours, nothing. Just a tap of a button.

The current form of sleep tracking might work for people who follow a strict routine, but it doesn’t work for me. I work odd hours. I write for a living, and I find myself going through articles at night. It’s the best time for me to write, but it’s not regular.

For instance, sometimes I fall asleep at 1 a.m., while there are other occasions when I find myself sleeping at 6 a.m. It depends on the kind of work I have on my plate and the book by my bedside. I usually sleep in shifts – five hours in the morning and two to three hours after lunch.

Person wearing Apple Watch showing Sleep Tracking information.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

I’ve set the sleep and wake-up times for when I should ideally be sleeping, but that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. As a result, the Apple Watch’s sleep tracking is horrible for me. It shows that I’ve spent six hours in bed but doesn’t tell me my sleep duration or other data accurately.

By contrast, if I’m wearing an Amazfit, it logs everything without any user input. It tracks my sleep no matter when I go to sleep and when I wake up. Plus, it logs my naps as well. The only way to track naps on Apple Watch is by creating another sleep schedule in the Health app. The omission of auto nap tracking in watchOS 10 is a big miss, at least for me. The amount of sleep I’m getting is the primary data I care about from my smartwatch, alongside the smart features.

Not having auto sleep tracking is one thing, but prompting me to stand up while I’m taking a nap is baffling. The other day, when I woke up from my nap at 4 p.m., I had a “Time to stand up” notification waiting for me on my Apple Watch SE, which was sent while I was sleeping. I don’t understand why it is so hard for the Apple Watch to understand when I’m asleep.

The Apple Watch should be smarter than this

Apple Watch SE with Nomad Aluminum Band on wrist.
Prakhar Khanna/Digital Trends

The Apple Watch remains the best wearable if you want it as an extension of your iPhone – like if you don’t want to miss out on notifications or reply to messages from your wrist.

The Amazfit alternatives still lack actionable notifications, so you can’t reply to messages. But the absence of auto sleep tracking and nap tracking on the Apple Watch is a big miss for me. Apple missed the mark this time around, so here’s to hoping that changes later this year with the Apple Watch Series 9. If not then, we’ve always got watchOS 11 in 2024.

Editors' Recommendations

Prakhar Khanna
Prakhar writes news, reviews and features for Digital Trends. He is an independent tech journalist who has been a part of the…
The Vitals app could make the Apple Watch an Oura Ring killer
The Apple Watch Series 9 showing the sleep tracking data.

As a long-term Oura Ring wearer, the feature I’m looking forward to most in Apple’s WatchOS 11 is the new Vitals app.

It may look like just another extension of the Health app and the familiar Rings screen, but if it delivers on its promises of insights into your state of health, it has the potential to become invaluable.
What is Vitals?

Read more
Everything Apple announced at WWDC 2024: iOS 18, AI, and more
Apple logo for WWDC 2024.

It's that time of year once again! It's time for Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference -- also known as WWDC. WWDC is home to some of Apple's most important announcements of the year, typically revolving around new software updates for its devices.

WWDC 2024 is no different. This year's show is arguably one of the biggest and most important for Apple in years. With iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and more updates, there's a lot to take in. Lucky for you, we're rounding up all the announcements here.

Read more
Apple just announced iPadOS 18. Here are the most exciting features
Home Screen of the M4 iPad Pro.

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) started today. This annual event is one of the biggest for Apple of the entire year, giving us an early look at the company's next software updates for its biggest products.

One of the many announcements at WWDC 2024 was iPadOS 18 — the next major software update for the iPad. The upcoming iPadOS 18 has a lot in common with iOS 18, and when it arrives on your iPad later this year, it'll be chock-full of new features for you to check out. Here's what's new.
Home screen, apps, and control center updates

Read more