Your Apple Watch could soon get a big sleep-tracking upgrade thanks to watchOS 11

An Apple Watch on a wrist showing sleep tracking
(Image credit: Future)

Apple didn't have enough time at its WWDC 2024 event to talk about every new feature in watchOS 11. That means that some upgrades are only being spotted now, like the sleep-tracking bonus that one an eagle-eyed user has just discoverd.

According to user jahshua06 on Reddit, watchOS 11 could contain a form of automatic sleep tracking. This feature has apparently appeared in the first developer beta of watchOS 11, which was released on June 10 – the same day as WWDC 2024.

The Reddit user explained that “I took a nap yesterday and it looks like that sleep data was recorded.” And it doesn't appear to be a one-off, as user ruijor chimed in below: “Yes iOS 18 automatically tracks sleep without sleep mode. Finally!”

Prior to the latest software updates, you would need to manually create a sleep schedule on your iPhone or Apple Watch for it to be able to take accurate measurements. 

That can be a pain if you drift off to sleep unexpectedly or fall asleep outside your normal defined sleep hours, as often happens when you take a short nap. Now, those concerns could become a thing of the past.

A hidden feature

(Image credit: Future)

This new feature is surprising because Apple seems to have made no mention of it during or since WWDC. The company’s watchOS 11 preview page only says that the new Vitals app “establishes a typical range for each of your health metrics collected as you sleep,” while the official watchOS 11 press release omits any claim of automatic sleep tracking.

That itself is not particularly unusual, as Apple’s software updates are usually so packed with new features that there is neither time nor space for Apple to cover them all. Each year, inquisitive users discover hidden features and find out how they work without any mention from Apple.

Right now, watchOS 11 is only available as a developer beta. The public beta is set to be released in July, with the full version launching at some point in the fall. 

While it might seem tempting to download Apple’s software betas to give their new features a try, we recommend you only do so on a secondary device – and never your main device – in case anything goes wrong. It’s also possible that Apple will change or remove this feature before the final release. If it doesn’t, though, it will be great news for the Apple Watch’s sleep tracking abilities.

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Alex Blake
Freelance Contributor

Alex Blake has been fooling around with computers since the early 1990s, and since that time he's learned a thing or two about tech. No more than two things, though. That's all his brain can hold. As well as TechRadar, Alex writes for iMore, Digital Trends and Creative Bloq, among others. He was previously commissioning editor at MacFormat magazine. That means he mostly covers the world of Apple and its latest products, but also Windows, computer peripherals, mobile apps, and much more beyond. When not writing, you can find him hiking the English countryside and gaming on his PC.