By default the Apple Watch offers the ability to detect a user’s heart rate, without the need for an added accessory as some other wearable offerings that are available on the market today might command.
It does this by firing a set of green LEDs into the sub-epidermal layer of a user’s skin, and based on how fast this light is reflected back – the watch is able to build a picture of exactly how fast blood is travelling around the body – specifically, how fast it is passing through the wrist – a measurement that is more commonly known as a person’s Heart Rate.
And as good as the Apple Watch is in doing this – it’s by no means perfect.
We’ve talked before about Apple seemingly refraining from classing the Apple Watch as an actual medical device … at least, on it’s own, and it’s clear even with approved accessories attached that there is still a long way to go in terms of getting the medical profession fully on board with wearables (as a whole) being used to diagnose future potential health conditions.
HeartWatch is perhaps the first app designed for Apple Watch that wants to take the wearable’s ability to read a user’s Heart Rate, and step it up a level.
Designed to give you a better picture of what your heart is doing across four simple views: Waking, Regular, Workout and Sleep, the app claims to be an “easy solution” to finding and recording heart-related events that you may later wish to show your medical practitioner.
“Each of these views are isolated because, while you may want a higher heart rate during a workout, if your heart is racing when you aren’t doing any exercise then this is likely not a good thing and probably something you might want to show your [GP],” the app’s creators note.
Carrying a similar look to its overall “badges” view, as can be seen inside Apple’s own Activity fitness app – with each day represented by a pictorial of that day’s readings, HeartWatch claims to access both your heart rate and workout readings taken by your Apple Watch, and then unlocks the power of this information through its simple, intuitive interface.
“For regular heart rate readings, the ideal is to have a completely blue badge,” says Tantsissa – the studio behind the solution. “The bigger the red ring around the badge, the more time spent with an elevated heart rate,” it says.
They can be super helpful for providing an at-a-glance view:
Even though averages can appear to be similar, the badge shows a clear picture of how your heart has really been tracking and alerts you about excessively high or low readings.
Also mentionable here is the app’s specific focus on sleep tracking.
While Apple’s watch doesn’t by default include sleep tracking functionality, following the launch of the device last year many app developers have taken to righting that omission with their own custom app offerings.
In the case of HeartWatch, it means being able to not only see fine-grain readings about what you’re heart rate actually does while you are out (including an average, minimum and maximum), but other things too such as how much of your sleep pattern saw your rate elevated, high resting and resting.
The app will even give you an overview of how restless your night’s sleep was recorded to be.
From HeartWatch‘s accompanying watch app it’s possible to see your current heart rate, what time a certain reading was recorded, and whether or not your recorded rate is considered “regular” or “elevated.”
Unlike Apple’s own on-screen implementation of providing the user with heart rate readings from the watch’s built-in sensor, HeartWatch in addition includes the ability to see minimum and maximum rate – directly on the watch itself.
In workout mode this information expands to provide fitness-specific data, too – like current and average rate. Force Touching the watch’s display will give you the options to measure your rate at any given time – and you can even add HeartWatch as a third-party complication on watch faces that support this feature.
As for the downsides? The app’s little niggles lie less in the lack of its own functionality – and more in the Apple Watch’s current infant state as a platform.
It’s clear that Apple is still working to figure out exactly what the Apple Watch can be – and with this comes the realisation that it cannot yet do everything that the company perhaps wants the Apple Watch to be capable of doing.
A perfect example of this is automatic sleep tracking.
Right now, developers have little or no way to automatically start and stop the recording of sleep patterns using their apps. So instead, HeartWatch currently asks users who are interested in tracking their sleep to manually tell the app’s watch counterpart when exactly they are going to sleep, and when they eventually wake.
Couple all of the above with the ability to configure notifications for the following scenarios …
– When heart rate exceeds a bpm value
– When heart rate drops below a bpm value
– A sleep summary
– A daily reminder to check how you’ve done today
… and you can hopefully see why HeartWatch might just be worth your time.
HeartWatch is $2.99.
This article is also available in Apple News Format.