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Don’t want to wait for watchOS 7? Here’s how to start sleep tracking with Apple Watch today

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Sleep tracking with Apple Watch is a great way to gain new insight into your sleeping habits and trends over time. In fact, with the release of watchOS 7 this fall, Apple will officially offer native sleep tracking support for the first time. But if you don’t want to wait until the fall to start sleep tracking with your Apple Watch, a handful of incredibly powerful third-party apps have come to the App Store. Read on as we round up the best sleep tracking apps for Apple Watch

Native Apple Watch Sleep Tracking

With the release of watchOS 7 this fall, Apple Watch will officially support sleep tracking without needing a third-party application. watchOS 7 will be available to public beta users next month. This marks the first time that Apple has ever offered a public beta of watchOS 7. A public stable release will happen this fall, Apple says.

We went hands-on with the experience earlier this week, explaining that Apple is tying Apple Watch sleep-tracking capabilities in with new iPhone features such as Wind Down and Wake Up for a seamless cross-device experience.

There’s a new Sleep app on the Apple Watch, as well as a Sleep Mode that hides your usual watch face and instead shows the current time, as well as what time your alarm is set for. It also disables features like raise-to-wake, so your watch face isn’t lighting up in the middle of the night.

To view the sleep data tracked by your Apple Watch, you can go to the Sleep app on Apple Watch or the Health app on iPhone. The actual data here is limited. Apple simply shows you your time asleep, as well as a range for your heart rate. That’s where third-party applications still prove useful. They can offer much more data than Apple’s native implementation, and you don’t have to wait until the fall to get started.

What about battery life?

Before you start tracking your sleep with Apple Watch, you’ll need to make a plan for when you’ll charge your watch. There are two primary options here: before bed or after you wake up in the morning. One key change for me has been placing an extra Apple Watch charger at my desk rather than on my nightstand.

For me, it’s much easier to charge before bed every night. I wake up and head straight to the gym most mornings, so I have to make sure my Apple Watch has enough battery for workout tracking. If I put my Apple Watch on the charger at around 8 p.m., after I’ve already reached my stand goal for that day, it usually has a full charge by the time I head to bed at 9:30 p.m. And when I wake up in the morning, I almost always have more than 90% battery left — more than enough to make it through the day.

This works perfectly for me, but your routine is probably different than mine. The key is to come up with a plan that you can replicate every day. Whether that’s charging in the morning or at night, or a combination of both, it’s a lot easier than you might think to change your Apple Watch charging habits.

Of course, there is also always the option of repurposing an old Apple Watch as your dedicated “sleep watch.” 9to5Mac’s Zac Hall previously explained how to do that. You could also pick up a used or refurbished older Apple Watch model to do this.

Once you’ve established a charging routine for your Apple Watch, it’s time to pick a sleep tracking app. There are a few different options.

AutoSleep

AutoSleep is probably the most popular Apple Watch sleep tracking app on the App Store, and for good reason. It provides some of the most in-depth data, including a detailed look at sleep, sleep quality, heart rate, deep sleep, and much more.

AutoSleep uses a system of rings to help you monitor those key statistics. The main interface shows you rings for sleep, sleep quality, deep sleep, and bpm. All of this data comes at a cost, however, and AutoSleep’s interface can feel a bit overwhelming once you dive into all of the available data.

To combat that, AutoSleep also offers an excellent Apple Watch application that makes it easy to get a quick look at the current day’s sleep data. There is also a “readiness” score that attempts to predict how ready you are for the day based on your sleep for that night.

More on AutoSleep:

AutoSleep is available on the App Store for $2.99 as a one-time purchase.

Sleep++

Sleep++ is another popular sleep tracking app for Apple Watch with support for automatic sleep detection, bedtime reminders, sleep goals, and more. In the Sleep++ app, the main interface provides a detailed look at your sleep habits over the past few days.

Like its competitors, Sleep++ also offers quite a bit of data on sleep trends, cycles, phases, and more. You can also see a detailed timeline of your sleep, including when you were restful, restless, and awake, with a particularly neat look at when your “best sleep” occurred.”

One of the best things about Sleep++ is that it’s completely free, with an optional in-app purchase to remove advertisements. If you’re looking for a data-rich automatic Apple Watch sleep tracker, you download Sleep++ on the App Store.

Pillow

When I wrote about sleeping apps for the Apple Watch almost three years ago, Pillow was an option that I wasn’t familiar with at the time, but multiple 9to5Mac readers suggested I give it a try. With features like automatic sleep detection and heart-rate analysis, Pillow fits right in among the rest of the market.

One of the key features of Pillow is its support for recording important audio events throughout the night. This means the app can track data including snoring, sleep apnea, and sleep talking, but the biggest caveat here is that noise detection only works in manual mode.

There’s also support for viewing detailed sleep trends over time, personalized recommendations, and more. You can try Pillow on the App Store for free with in-app purchases.

NapBot

NapBot is a newcomer to the Apple Watch sleep tracking fun, and it’s quickly becoming one of the most powerful options. NapBot uses machine learning to perform automatic sleep tracking, allowing you to see details on phases, trends, and more.

NapBot offers an impressive amount of data in an impressively easy-to-navigate interface. The “Calendar” tab in the app allows you to get a detailed look at your sleep on a daily basis, and you can pick a specific day to see more detailed information on heart rate and phases.

NapBot also just launched its first Apple Watch app that’s completely independent of the iPhone. It currently only allows you to see the previous day’s sleep, but hopefully it will add more capabilities and historical data over time.

NapBot is the newest Apple Watch sleep tracking app, but it’s also quickly becoming my go-to. You can download it on the App Store for free with in-app purchases.

Others

If none of those options pique your interest, Sleep Watch is another choice that’s available on the App Store. Apple acquired Beddit in 2017, but it’s primarily a hardware sleep tracker that you put underneath your sheets. Sleep Cycle was available for the Apple Watch up until recently, but support was dropped back in October.

What do I use?

Despite all of the new entrants into the sleep tracking Apple Watch industry, I still find AutoSleep to be the most powerful option, but that’s not to say it’s perfect. AutoSleep offers you a lot of data, and sometimes it’s overwhelming trying to figure out the logic behind some that data.

NapBot is becoming a close second for me. While it’s a newcomer to the scene, it’s getting better quickly with consistent updates. For instance, it recently added a standalone Apple Watch app, new trends and Apple Watch complications, and more.

The key, regardless of which application you pick, is to make sure there is some sort of automatic sleep detection feature. This reduces friction and means you don’t have to remember to manually start a sleep tracking session every night before bed. Instead, your Apple Watch can track your sleep in the background, without any interaction from you.

These apps also integrate with Apple’s Health app, which means you can get an overview of your sleep data alongside everything else in the Health app. The Health app is useful for tracking long-term trends and averages, but if you want detailed data, you’ll have to jump to your third-party app of choice.

Now that Apple’s first-party sleep tracking solution for Apple Watch has been officially announced, there’s more interest than ever in sleep tracking applications. These third-party apps offer powerful and rich data, Health app integration, and more. Plus, you can get started today, without waiting for watchOS 7 to be released in the fall.

Do you track your sleep with Apple Watch? Which app do you prefer? Let us know down in the comments!

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Report: Foxconn investing $1 billion in India following Apple’s strong request

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Apple has some ambitious plans in India, as the company has already confirmed that it will open the first Apple Store there by 2021. And now Foxconn is allegedly investing $1 billion in its India facility, where the Taiwanese factory already assembles some iPhone models.

According to a Reuters report, Apple is gradually moving its production line from China to other countries, and scaling up the manufacturing process in India is part of the plans. Apple would have requested Foxconn to expand its facilities located in Sriperumbudur, where the two companies are already assembling the iPhone XR.

The expansion plan is expected to be finished in three years, and it will allow other iPhone models to be made in India. Sources told Reuters that these investments will add over 6,000 jobs to the Sriperumbudur facility.

While India is the second-largest smartphone market in the world, Apple only accounts for 1% of sales there. The country has high import taxes, which makes Apple’s product prices too high when compared to the competition. Building products locally can help Apple reduce some costs, which may result in more attractive prices for consumers.

If the plans succeed, Apple might use Foxconn facilities in India to export iPhone models to other countries.

‘With India’s labor cheaper compared with China, and the gradual expansion of its supplier base here, Apple will be able to use the country as an export hub,’ Neil Shah of Hong Kong-based tech researcher Counterpoint said.

Apple is rumored to launch its official online store in India later this year.

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iOS 14: How to pin text messages on iPhone for quick access

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A really useful new feature included in iOS 14 is the ability to favorite conversations for easy access at the top of the Messages app. Follow along for how to pin text messages on iPhone and iPad.

The Messages app gets a few notable upgrades with this year’s major iOS update including mentions, an emoji search bar, the ability to pin conversations, and also add a photo for the icon of group messages.

The pin message feature is quick and easy to use and places your favorited conversations at the top of the Messages app with large icons. You can pin up to 9 messages on iPhone and iPad.

Note: iOS 14 is available as a free public beta as well as a developer beta. Read more here on how to install them.

iOS 14: How to pin text messages on iPhone and iPad

  1. Open the Messages app
  2. Find a conversation you want to pin, long-press on it
  3. Tap Pin ____________
  4. Now you’ll see the pinned message at the top of the app
  5. To undo a pin, long-press on a message or the pinned icon and tap Unpin ___________

Here’s how the process looks:

iOS 14 How to pin text messages on iPhone walkthrough 1

You can add up to 9 pinned messages, including both iMessages and standard text messages and messages to individuals or groups.

How to unpin messages on iPhone and iPad

Once you’ve hit the maximum of 9, you’ll see an alert to unpin a conversation to add a new one.

Here’s what it looks like to unpin a message:

  • Long-press the pinned message icon or the message thread from the list below

iOS 14 How to pin text messages on iPhone walkthrough 2

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Apple News+ sees another free month promotion as audio stories are set to launch

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Apple News+, the company’s paid offering is running a new promotion for users who have tried the service and canceled their subscriptions. The new deal offers previous customers another free month of Apple News+ as the new audio stories are set to launch with the upcoming release of iOS 13.6.

If you haven’t tried Apple News+, the standard welcome at the top of the News+ tab in the Apple News app encourages you to try it for free for one month before paying the $10/month regular price.

Now, Apple is offering a second free month to those who have given it a try but canceled the subscription.

As shown in the images above, Apple is using the “Get 1 More Month” offer to entice previous subscribers to give the service another shot.

The promotion comes as Apple News+ Audio is set to launch with iOS 13.6 in the near future.

We first got a look at the new Apple News+ Audio feature with the iOS 13.5.5 beta (renamed to iOS 13.6). It brings professionally narrated audio stories curated from the Apple News team to your device. We went hands-on with the Apple News+ Audio feature after uncovering it early.

At the end of last year, Apple News+ ran a free three-month trial during the holidays to boost its users. That came just a couple of weeks after a report claimed the service was having trouble getting new customers.

Notably, just last month, The New York Times left Apple News — the free version of Apple’s news platform — which was a little over a year after it and the Washington Post said no to joining the paid Apple News+ service.

Does another free month interest you at all in trying Apple News+ again? Or did you not find it worth the $10/month? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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