Apple’s fitness guru talks Breathe app and bringing meditation to your wrist

Apple Watch Breathe

Jay Blahnik, Apple’s Director of Fitness and Health technologies who was a Nike contract athlete and consultant for over eighteen years, sat down with BuzzFeed News reporter Stephanie Lee three days ago to discuss an interesting addition to the Apple Watch’s arsenal of health-focused software technologies: the new Breathe app in watchOS 3.

A “mindfulness” app, Breathe strives to help you wind down for the day and spend a few minutes relaxing throughout the day by encouraging visually-guided breathing exercises every four hours.

Have more mindfulness in your day

“Just doing some deep breathing can have some great benefits for a lot of people, whether they’re taking a break from a busy work day or winding down for the day,” said Blahnik. And with the new Breathe app, “it wouldn’t be hard for them to do it, regardless if they were a beginner or were very experienced with having more mindfulness in their day.”

He went on to say that Apple tested the app on “hundreds” of its own employees. The Breathe development team also talked to outside mindfulness and psychology experts who have discovered that seven breaths per minute is the most comfortable rate for most people.

WWDC 2016 keynote Jay Blahnik Breathe app slide 003

“Taking a minute between meetings, to push away from their desks, quiet their mind, relax their bodies and just take deep breaths, seemed to be appealing to a lot of people,” he said.

It’s interesting that Apple’s Breathe app appears to take some cues from a third-party app with which it shares the same name.

Another Breathe app

Breathe for iOS, a free of charge app by KSI technology, also features daily reminders for deep-breathing exercises. As the app appeals to niche uses, small wonder it’s been downloaded less than 10,000 times since its April 2015 debut on the App Store.

Breathe for iOS by KSI iPhone screenshot 001

KIS Technology co-founder Ben Erez pulled an Apple Watch edition of the app six months ago because he didn’t believe the wrist was a good place to practice mindfulness. “There are startling similarities” between his and Apple’s Breathe, Erez said.

Erez won’t be taking legal action because he hadn’t trademarked his app’s name and is looking forward to seeing Apple push meditation into the mainstream.

Take a deep you-know-what

Apple’s Breathe includes 1-5 minute breathing exercises which you can elect to get reminded about throughout the day via Time to Breathe notifications. Deep breathing is an important part of your everyday health that ensures your body is getting enough oxygen.

During a breathing exercise, the app provides you with heart rate and breathing information which helps illustrate how the breathing exercise impacts the way your body handles your heart rate while deep-breathing. It’s especially nice that subtle animations and haptic feedback on your wrist you focus on deep breathing.

watchOS 3 Dock Breathe ACtivity face Apple Watch teaser 001

“The new Breathe app guides you through a series of deep breaths that can help you better manage everyday stress or just experience a few calming moments,” writes Apple. “Start anytime and let the mesmerizing animation and gentle taps help you focus. See your heart rate when you’re done, and use the Time to Breathe reminders to fit a session into each day.”

Your thoughts on wrist mediation

Have you tried the new Breathe app in watchOS 3 and if so, what did you think of it? Will you be making it your routine to perform daily breathing exercises with Breathe after watchOS 3 releases publicly this fall?

Our Wallpaper of the Week series recently published a set of wallpapers inspired by the Breathe app, which you can download and use on your Apple devices.

What’s your take on mindfulness apps? In your opinion, do they provide any real benefit and is the wrist the right place for meditation and relaxation apps?

Source: BuzzFeed News