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Bedtime is my favorite feature of iOS 10, and I hope it's a preview of Apple Watch 2

Commentary: A small part of iOS 10 ended up being my favorite thing so far, and it feels like a hint of Apple's next smartwatch.

After using iOS 10's public beta for half a week, I'm surprised that my favorite feature isn't even something I knew about. It slipped my mind somehow while covering Apple's developer conference. But I think it's my favorite bit of design in the entire OS update.

And I wonder, maybe, if it's a preview of what the Apple Watch 2 has in store, because its design seems awfully similar.

I'm talking about Bedtime, a feature that isn't even its own app. It's inside the Clock app, relegated to an icon on the bottom. Tap it, and you get a round clock with a bright, clean orange semicircle around it.


Bedtime on iOS 10 feels like it jumped off the Apple Watch.

Scott Stein/CNET

Bedtime schedules can be set by pulling the "bedtime" and "wake up" reminders around the clock face. It's simple, and visualizes sleep time. It's similar to what's becoming standard on many health apps and fitness bands that have the battery life to measure sleep, including Fitbit and Pebble.

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Battery life. Ah, that's the thing. The Apple Watch currently just has enough juice to last a day and a bit, not really good enough for sleep tracking. Sleep monitoring is the last obvious feature that the Apple Watch hasn't included, and its absence is becoming so notable that it feels like an obvious inclusion in an Apple Watch 2.

Which brings me to Bedtime. It finally hit me after days of using it that it reminds me of an Apple Watch app, but one that isn't tied to Apple Watch. Yet. Tap on sleep history and Bedtime opens up to Health, which tracks sleep. Apple Health can fold in fitness tracker data from those that do sleep tracking, excluding Apple Watch (for now).

I also love Bedtime, mainly, for its new musical tones that rise ever-so-gently to wake me up. There are nine wake-up soundtracks, and they're all pretty good. So far they've worked for me even though I sleep through jackhammers. And I've been trying to make sure I sleep more, because I don't.

Bedtime isn't a big feature, but it's a thoughtfully designed one. It feels clean, not full of busy features like the new Messages app. It's the sort of stuff I liked about iOS in the first place, nine years ago, and is what I like about WatchOS 3. I don't see a lot of anywhere else in the increasingly complex world of iOS 10. Maybe it's a sign of what the Apple Watch sequel has in store, too.