watchOS 3: Bringing Attention Back to Apple's New 'Breathe' App

During the watchOS 3 segment of Apple's keynote presentation at the Worldwide Developer's Conference last week, Apple introduced a new mindfulness-based app called Breathe.

The idea behind Breathe is to help Apple Watch owners better manage everyday stress, and works by prompting users to take a short time out to focus their attention on the simple act of breathing.

By default, Breathe serves up a one-minute session which guides the user through seven breaths. The duration can be extended to up to five minutes by rotating the Digital Crown, while breathing can be slowed to four breaths per minute, or increased to ten per minute.

watchos3_breathe
As the session begins, the app asks the user to "Be still, and bring your attention to your breath". A mandala-like series of concentric circles then begin to expand and contract on the watch screen as a visual guide for the user to adjust the rate of their breath.

What's not obvious from demos is that the app also makes use of the Apple Watch's haptic feedback, by initiating a delicate tapping rhythm on the wrist that begins fast and gradually fades at the top of each breath, as a subtle cue to exhale.

The use of haptic feedback also means the user can close their eyes as the session takes place, while the intensity of the feedback can be adjusted in the app settings.

When the session comes to an end, the user's recorded heart-rate during the session is shown, as is the total number of minutes that have been spent using the app that day. An option to retake the session and "Breathe again" also appears on screen.

The default setting for the app is to prompt a session every four hours, but prompts can be snoozed and their frequency can also be changed in the app's settings.

Additionally, a Breathe complication can be added to watch faces, allowing users to start a session with a simple tap whenever they choose.


During the Keynote, Apple did not cite any scientific evidence to back up its claims that bringing attention to the breath can help decrease stress and alleviate anxiety. However, research does exist to support the claim.

Breath-based meditation has been shown to reduce activity in the brain's "default mode network" (DMN), an area implicated in mind-wandering and the sense of self. Increased activity in this "resting state" network is known to be associated with conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Recent neuroimaging studies have also shown that daily meditation alters the functional and structural plasticity of the brain, and can increase cortical thickness in specific brain regions associated with attention-based tasks.

The Breathe app is part of watchOS 3, which will be released as a free upgrade this fall.

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Series 6
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

Top Rated Comments

8692574 Avatar
63 months ago
Remember when you forgot to breathe?
There's an app for that™!
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
hmark8 Avatar
63 months ago
This seems like the type of thing a company comes up with when they've run out of ideas for anything new, IMHO.
A company comes up with a new idea because its run out of new ideas? I think commenters go more nutty every year. You can predict to a t the responses every year along the lines of, Apple is doomed, this wouldn't have happened if Steve jobs was around, I won't buy this unless they do xyz and want everyone to know, Apple should stop changing things so quickly, Apple should change things more quickly, its simply hilarious since all the commenters are android trolls or Apple customers who end up buying the product anyway just so they have something to complain about. Gotta love it.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jasonklee Avatar
63 months ago
Oh boy. I love Apple as a tech company. But I am not a big fan of eastern spirituality. This breathe app is a step in the wrong direction imho. Luckily it can be disabled, but I don't like the fact that Apple tries to dump such things on me. Wearing the Apple watch is a personal choice. If the Watch will be associated with this, I'll have to consider wearing my good old Certina instead. It would be much wiser to add this app as an optional downloadable, not a core part of the OS.
Meditation doesn't have to equate with spirituality. Science guys such as Sam Harris, Steven Pinker, Jonathan Haidt, Michael Shermer all recommend meditation practice. One doesn't even have to assume the lotus position. The Buddhist symbol for the human mind is the chattering monkey, which is just great. And there's fascinating research showing the positive benefits of shutting up the monkey mind.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ParanoidDroid Avatar
63 months ago


The on-screen instructions are boring. I suggest you try the app with Prodigy's Breathe. :D
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
stiligFox Avatar
63 months ago
Man, the more I read this thread, where the heck is all this hate coming from? Just turn the darn thing off if you don't want to use it. It's not hurting anyone?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mac Fly (film) Avatar
63 months ago
I thought it was a gimmick , guess I'll just wait to try it out.
No, deep breathing, mindfulness and the various kinds of meditation are not gimmicks. Lots of technically minded people would benefit from some of this as part of their daily routing to be frank.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

siir apple event april 20

Siri Reveals Apple Event Planned for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 12:04 am PDT by
Siri has apparently prematurely revealed that Apple plans to hold an event on Tuesday, April 20, where the company is expected to reveal brand new iPad Pro models and possibly its long-awaited AirTags trackers. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Upon being asked "When is the next Apple Event," Siri is currently responding with, "The special event is on Tuesday, April...
apple event spring loaded

Apple's 'Spring Loaded' Event Officially Announced for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Following an overnight leak by Siri, Apple today officially announced that it will be holding a special "Spring Loaded" event on Tuesday, April 20 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with all of Apple's 2020 events, the April 2021 event will be a digital-only gathering with no members of the media invited to attend in...
pixel watch prosser leak

Google Pixel Watch Allegedly Leaks with Circular Design, Rumored to Launch in October

Monday April 12, 2021 2:49 am PDT by
Renders of Google's first smartwatch, codenamed "Rohan," have been shared by Jon Prosser, showing that Google plans to adopt a circular design for its flagship wearable watch. Prosser shared the renders in an episode of his YouTube show "Front Page Tech," in which he claims they were made based on marketing material he had seen from a source within Google. The renders show that the Pixel...
Google maps feaure green

Google Maps App for iOS Finally Updated After Four Months

Monday April 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Following the completed rollout of App Privacy labels for its App Store apps, Google today updated the Google Maps app for the first time in four months. Apple in December began requiring all new app submissions and app updates to include App Privacy labels, detailing the data that is collected by the app so consumers know what they're sharing. Google didn't begin implementing App Privacy ...
AppleTV and HomePod Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on New Apple TV With Integrated HomePod Speaker and FaceTime Camera

Monday April 12, 2021 3:32 am PDT by
Apple is working on a combined Apple TV with HomePod speaker that has a camera for video calls through a connected television set, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. From the report: The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions,...
samsung experience 1

Samsung's 'iTest' Lets You Try a Galaxy Device on Your iPhone

Thursday April 8, 2021 12:42 pm PDT by
Samsung has launched "iTest," an interactive website experience that's designed to allow iPhone users to test out Android on a Galaxy device, or "sample the other side," as Samsung puts it. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The iTest website is being advertised in New Zealand, according to a MacRumors reader who came across the feature. Visiting the iTest website on...
epic iap feature 3

Tim Cook Says App Store Would Become a 'Flea Market' if Third-Party Payment Systems Were Allowed

Monday April 12, 2021 9:41 am PDT by
In a recent interview with the Toronto Star, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about a wide variety of topics, ranging from App Tracking Transparency to Apple's ongoing legal battle over App Store policies with Fortnite creator Epic Games. Notably, Cook said that Epic Games' desire for Apple to let developers offer their own payment systems in apps "would make the App Store a flea market":At the...
tim cook toronto star

Tim Cook Says Apple is 'Not Against Digital Advertising' Ahead of iOS 14.5 Launch With App Tracking Transparency

Monday April 12, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
Starting with iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, Apple will be requiring apps to receive a user's permission to track their activity for targeted advertising purposes, as part of a privacy measure known as App Tracking Transparency. Ahead of App Tracking Transparency being enforced, Apple CEO Tim Cook has participated in a privacy-focused interview with the Toronto Star, telling the...
a13 bionic mockup

Apple Made Sudden Security Changes to its Chips in Fall 2020

Monday April 12, 2021 8:15 am PDT by
Apple made unusual mid-production hardware changes to the A12, A13, and S5 processors in its devices in the fall of 2020 to update the Secure Storage Component, according to Apple Support documents. According to an Apple Support page, spotted by Twitter user Andrew Pantyukhin, Apple changed the Secure Enclave in a number of products in the fall of 2020:Note: A12, A13, S4, and S5 products...
HomePod G4 Feature

Bloomberg: Future HomePod May Feature iPad Connected Via Robotic Arm to Track Users Around The Room During FaceTime Calls

Monday April 12, 2021 3:50 am PDT by
In a report outlining a possible Apple TV with a combined HomePod and camera, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that Apple is exploring a future high-end HomePod speaker that could include an iPad connected via a robotic arm that tracks and follows users around a room. From the report: The Cupertino, California-based technology giant, is also mulling the launch of a high-end speaker with a touch ...