Samsung is focusing on enhancing sleep, fitness, and wellness features in its upcoming Galaxy Watch line. The company has revealed several updates that will be included in its new One UI 5 Watch software, set to debut on upcoming watches later this year. These updates will place a stronger emphasis on Samsung’s sleep coach and introduce more personalized heart rate zones. While the One UI 5 Watch update will first be available on Samsung’s new watches, owners of Galaxy Watch 4 and 5 in the US and Korea can sign up for the update’s beta program this month.

The emphasis on sleep, health, and wellness aligns with a trend that has been prevalent in the wearables industry for several years, becoming especially noteworthy in 2022 and 2023. Both Apple and Samsung’s latest smartwatches introduced temperature sensors in 2022, and smart ring manufacturer Oura recently announced a range of new sleep-related features. Google’s Fitbit also enhanced its Sense 2 smartwatch to continuously monitor potential signs of stress the previous year.

Samsung’s new software will prominently display the sleep score on the watch’s sleep insights screen and enable sleep coaching directly on the device. Sleep coaching analyzes a wearer’s sleep patterns and assigns an animal mascot based on the results, a feature previously only accessible through the user’s phone. This change reflects Samsung’s aim to make sleep data more readily available to users, as stated by Hon Pak, head of Samsung’s mobile experience business digital health team. Pak mentioned that users are seeking actionable insights rather than just raw data.

Looking ahead, Pak envisions exploring how factors like activity and stress impact an individual’s sleep and overall well-being. Samsung is working on measures related to heart rate variability and stress but is not yet ready to disclose details.

One of the challenges in the industry is the limited battery life of smartwatches, which hinders consistent sleep tracking. Improving battery life is crucial as wearables evolve to monitor more health metrics continuously in the background, a direction that Pak believes the industry will continue to pursue.

The One UI 5 Watch update will also introduce other wellness-related features, including personalized heart rate zones akin to Fitbit’s offerings, support for running and walking in the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro’s route workout option, and default fall detection for users aged 55 and above. The expansion of Samsung’s route-tracking feature to include walks and runs will be beneficial, as the current version only works during hiking and cycling workouts.

Additionally, updates to Samsung’s SOS feature will simplify sharing location information with emergency services and accessing medical information. The announcement hints that future health features in smartwatches may be delivered through software updates rather than requiring new hardware, a trend demonstrated by Apple’s WatchOS 9 update in 2022 and Samsung’s previous enhancements through software updates.

Introducing new features like those in the One UI 5 Watch update, no matter how seemingly minor, is crucial for Samsung to remain competitive in the market. Apple’s reported development of an AI-powered health coaching tool utilizing Apple Watch data underscores the increasing competition in wearable health technology. Samsung typically unveils new Galaxy Watches in August, likely when more details about the software update and upcoming wearables will be disclosed.