The Oura Ring is already one of the best sleep trackers you can buy and now it's adding a new social feature to help you connect (or perhaps compete) with your fellow Oura wearers.
The new Oura Circles feature lets you share your sleep, readiness and activity scores with up to 20 people, as long as they're also Oura members (a subscription that costs $5.99 per month, or around £5.15 / AU$9.60 a month).
If you're worried about oversharing health data with friends or family, you can customize what you share in Circles. For example, you could decide to share two weeks' worth of all of your Oura Scores, or just your nightly Sleep Score. You can also take breaks with the option to leave or rejoin Circles whenever you like.
The feature effectively turns the Oura app into a social fitness hub like Strava, only for broader health rather than specific sports. Like Strava, you'll be able to react to data shared in Oura Circles with emojis like crowns or fire, to help give them a virtual high-five. There are also more subtle and supportive reactions for lower scores, though there's no way to message someone directly within the app.
The graphs for each Circle member show a two-week range of their scores, but you can press and hold on a graph and drag sideways to view one of your friend's scores for previous days. Oura says it's also planning to let Circle members share more data beyond those three main scores (for sleep, readiness and activity) in future.
Unfortunately, Circles doesn't play nice with the first-gen Oura ring – only owners of the Oura Ring Generation 2 and Oura Ring Generation 3 can share their scores and react to other members. You can also only join up to 10 Circles, although that's likely more than enough for most people.
To start making your new Circle and invite other members to it, you can either tap the promo card that'll appear in the latest version of the app, or find it in the menu in the upper left-hand corner of the Oura's Home tab.
Analysis: Fellowship of the ring
The arrival of Oura Circles makes a lot of sense for the popular, but still pretty niche, Oura Ring. Naturally, Oura's blog post says the feature has been designed to help provide social connection and combat post-pandemic loneliness issues.
It provides the example of seeing your significant other’s Readiness Score drop over the week, allowing you to check in with them and lend a bit of support. While that's true, it is also about creating mini clubs for competitive sharing – and ultimately making the Oura ring more attractive to people outside those clubs.
Fortunately, you do have control over the kinds of data you share, so you don't have to lay bare your nightly sleep quality to a circle of friends. That said, while living with the Oura ring we found sleep-tracking to be its main appeal – the lack of GPS and other sensors means it isn't ready to replace the best Apple Watch or Garmin just yet.
While some may prefer to keep their health data private rather than opened up to social peer pressure, Circles is an entirely optional feature – even if you may need to turn down the odd Circles invitation. And with the rumored Oura Ring 4 potentially bringing contactless payments to your finger, smart rings are only going to get smarter from here.
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Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.