Apples Breathe app on the Apple Watch has been confusing people for years – 9to5Mac

Posted: January 8, 2020 at 8:48 am


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Does your Apple Watch keep reminding you to breathe? Youre not alone. People all over the world are interrupted by the Apple Watch reminding them to breathe every day even if theyre already breathing. So what gives?

One of the most common misconceptions about Breathe alerts is that they are related to stress. The idea is that the Apple Watch detects when you need to take advice from Taylor Swift and calm down.

How would that work exactly? The confusion is around heart rate detection. The Apple Watch measures your current heart rate every few minutes (and more frequently when logging workouts). It also logs this data to create a trend line for your average heart rate.

But the Apple Watch doesnt assume that a sudden change in heart rate is related to stress. It can use that data to provide helpful heart health information!

It would be a cool feature though if the Apple Watch really coulddistinguish uninvited stress from intentional exercise or other real life scenarios that cause your heart rate to increase.

Full disclosure: I did not tell my mom it was a coincidence the first time she told me her Apple Watch reminded her to breathe after a stressful meeting. Her enthusiasm was too much. I dont think she reads my work.

Okay, but what if youre already breathing? I totally understand. I do that too. Just not as far as the Apple Watch is concerned.

It has sensors that detectwhen youre working out, and it can even detect a sudden fall and call emergency services if youre unresponsive. Apple Watch doesnt measure how long you can hold your breath however at least not yet.

So maybe the Apple Watch does want you to calm down, just not only when youre flustered.

Apple includes an app called Breathe that introduces Apple Watch users to guided meditation. An animating flower gently grows and shrinks over the course of several seconds. The app instructs you to take a deep breath and hold it when the flow increases, then exhale when the flower shrinks.

Frankly, its mesmerizing. Just talking about it is calming. There are even Apple Watch faces dedicated to the app and its visuals not to mention this 10 hour YouTube video of the animation thats been viewed almost 15,000 times.

Breathe is customizable too so each session doesnt have to be the same. You can set the number of breaths per minute to adjust how long each deep breath should be, the duration of the session before you begin, and whether or not the app remembers your last session length.

At the end of the meditation session, the Breathe app will display your current heart rate too. Ideally, its lower than when you started, but thats not the main goal of the app.

Using the Breathe app doesnt just help you collect your thoughts and focus on whats important to you. The Apple Health app on the iPhone can log data from meditation sessions with a metric called Mindful Minutes.

This helps you realize insights like whether or not guided meditation helps you sleep, eat healthier, or remember to exercise.

Meditation, great, but what about those nagging alerts? You can turn down the number of meditation reminders you receive or disable Breathe notifications altogether.

Open the Watch app on your iPhone, tap Breathe from the My Watch tab, then tap Breathe Reminders.

If you like the idea of guided meditation but Breathe reminders are stressing you out, you can receive just one reminder per day. If you already logged a session, you wont receive an alert that day.

Breathe reminders also wait for moments when no movement or exercise is detected so it doesnt catch you at a bad time, although your mileage may vary.

You can also disable or have notifications sent to Notification Center (swipe down from the watch face to access) by swiping left and tapping the button from the alert.

Want to go nuclear on Breathe? Take a deep breath, press the Digital Crown on your Apple Watch, then press and hold on the green flower icon for the Breathe app (or swipe left if youre in list view) to remove the Breathe app. You can always add it back from the App Store on Apple Watch.

If youre still reading this or youve scrolled to the bottom of this story, youve discovered my motivation for writing this piece in the first place.

I love learning how people use the Apple Watch so Im constantly searching for ways regular people experience it. This search, specifically on Twitter, has pointed to one meme over and over again, and Apples Breathe app on the Apple Watch is at the center of it.

Checking an Apple Watch alert for a new message, and hopelessly realizing its just a Breathe reminder.

Just search Twitter for apple watch vibrates breathe to see what I mean. There are probably earlier instances of this based on when the Breathe app was introduced, but my quick search goes back to this March 2017 tweet that fits the criteria:

Then in June 2017:

Followed by a similar tweet for July, August, and September2017.

Lots of people turn to Twitter to publicly declare that they will not breathe in defiance of their Apple Watch, but further inspection usually reveals additional tweets that suggest they actually continued to breathe.

Okay, those are just fun. But seriously, a lot of people are being misled by Breathe alerts on the Apple Watch.

Remember those original tweets from 2017? There was one per month for a while, then they fizzled out. Seems normal.

Fast forward to, say, 2020, and there have been nearly 20 tweets with the same message already. Were not even a week into the new year, people.

Thereissomething off about the current round of tweets though. In the trues sense of a modern meme, these tweets dont appear to be wholly original and organic.

Im not saying foreign bots or an international propaganda scheme is at play here, but most of these tweets are copied and pasted with the same format right down to the same four-letter-word-that-starts-with-an-s explicit reaction. I wont embed the bad words in case my mom actually does read my work, but again, see for yourself.

Last year alone, there were too many tweets to count that fit the search criteria. Its possible people are uniquely experiencing the same disappointment individually, or maybe the meme is really a somewhat meta quest for likes and retweets.

All I know is something changed between 2017 and 2020 probably the booming popularity of the Apple Watch and something that was tweeted a handful of times per year is now a daily meme.

Finding the deeper meaning of all of this will require more meditation. For now, remember to breathe, people.

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Apples Breathe app on the Apple Watch has been confusing people for years - 9to5Mac

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January 8th, 2020 at 8:48 am

Posted in Meditation