The maddening glitch in the “Breathe” app on Apple Watch

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Breathe app


Last year, Apple added ‘Breathe’ to watchOS 3. This simple app invites the user to pause for mindful meditation, bringing attention to the breath for a few minutes at a time. The exercise is accompanied by a slick little animation: translucent teal circles that expand and contract along with your breathing’s steady rhythm.

Animation start and end frames

The first and last frames of the Breathe app’s animation. I’ve bumped up the contrast here to make the difference easier to see.

I like Breathe, but the animation has an annoying little hiccup. At the very end of every breath, the graphic resets to prep for the next inhale/exhale cycle. Watch the contracted circles at that point, and you’ll notice the glitch: a jarring ‘jump cut’ from one gradient fill to another.

Yes, it’s a subtle niggle. But once you see it, you can’t unsee it. After all, we’re talking about an app that requires you to focus intently; any distraction, no matter how small, is magnified by close attention. I notice the cut with every breath. It’s a distraction that undermines the very focus the app is designed to foster. It as if the air catches in my lungs.

It wouldn’t take much to fix this; even a linear fade between the last frame and the first would ease the animated transition. But, so far, there’s been no sign that Apple has even noticed the problem; the choppy cut’s still there in watchOS 4. ■