Breathe, a new watchOS app coming soon to the Apple Watch, is designed to help you relax and concentrate.
However, while some believe that this will be just another stock iOS app that will eat up valuable disk space, others are excited to have this kind of feature on their wrists. Nonetheless, this app isn’t backed up by any scientific evidence, making it very hard to talk about its health benefits.
The concept behind Breathe is a very simple one. Every four hours (this can be adjusted), the app pops up a prompt asking you to start a breathing session. This involved inhaling and exhaling from one up to five minutes. During this time that app will show concentric circles on the device’s screen, or you can respond to a series of haptic touches on your wrist.
At the end of the session, you will see how many minutes you used the app during the day, as well as your heart rate.
Breathe comes after several fitness-oriented features already present on the Apple Watch. All of these features are focused on a wearer’s wellness, which is also presenting the Apple Watch as a highly personalized device. Currently, these are reminders to stand up and the activity rings that show your progress on daily activity goals.
As Jay Blahnik, Apple’s director of fitness for health technology, says: “Just doing some deep breathing can have some great benefits for a lot of people”. Even though meditation can improve conditions like anxiety, depression, and pain, it is questionable what kind of effect can be expected from a smartwatch.
Health professionals agree that guided meditation apps like Breathe can be useful to beginners because they send out notifications on when to start a session, but they can be questionable in the long-term. This especially goes for those individuals who might become frustrated with the app and who can start to feel bad about the behavioral treatment.
Back in 2015, a study was conducted on 560 “mindfulness” apps found on the iOS App Store. Only a few of those applications got high ratings, which means that users either do not understand how to properly use them, or they don’t have clear expectations. In order to avoid the same scenario, Breathe was tested on hundreds of Apple’s employees.
In addition, the development team talked to outside mindfulness and psychology experts in order to provide scientific data. Interestingly enough, this is why Breathe will offer you taking seven breaths per minute, which was found to be the most comfortable rate for most people.
It is also important to be said that Apple isn’t marketing Breathe as a medical device, which is why the company has the right not to disclose how the app actually works. This is how the Apple Watch maker protects itself and protects its product from rigorous examinations, even though this is not what an average user would like to hear. Instead, Breathe is in a grey zone, where some people might find it helpful, while others will have just another rarely used iOS stock app.