watchOS 10 will bring a number of improvements to the Apple Watch. But while the the most substantial upgrade changes the navigation experience, there's a different feature that I think will have greater implications for users.
There's more understanding now than ever mental health is as important as physical health. Yet, our health-tracking devices, including the Apple Watch, haven't quite caught up to equip users with tools that offer proactive guidance to take care of their brains. watchOS 10 looks to change that.
watchOS 10, revealed during WWDC 2023, grows the functionality of the Mindfulness with new prompts asking users to log their momentary emotions and daily moods. These prompts take the form of colorful visuals to help users determine how they're feeling.
Previously, the Mindfulness app only offered breathing guidance and timed moments of reflections for all users. (Paying Apple Fitness Plus members have access to audio meditations, too.) You could set up reminders to use these features, but they didn't give much information of terms of your overall mental health.
Now, in watchOS 10, the logged moods will join the Health app in a new "State of Mind" section that charts trends in how you're feeling. But more importantly, you'll be able to see how the other lifestyle factors tracked in the Health app could be impacting your state of mind.
Some information collected in the Health app that could be correlated to your mood include sleep and exercise. Another new vision health feature in watchOS 10 that tracks time spent in sunlight through the Apple Watch's ambient light sensor could also be factored into your state of mind.
Empowering users to get help
Not only will your Health app become a destination to see how your lifestyle data impacts your mood, but it will actually encourage action, too.
In the Health app on your iPhone (once it's updated to iOS 17) you'll be able to carry out commonly used depression and anxiety assessments. The results of these assessments might advise you to seek out medical guidance, or talk to someone about how you're feeling.
Too often, mental health conditions may be recognized before it's too late. It's naive to believe that the Apple Watch will successfully intervene for every user in need of help, but at least it presents an accessible and private translation of feelings someone might not be able to find elsewhere.