Pillow sleep tracking app

This article will be a little longer than average but will give you a good insight into the Pillow app is and how you can learn from it.

How much does it cost?

Let’s get this out the way first, at the time of writing this article (December 2017) $4.99 via an in-app purchase.

Why track sleep in the first place?

We all tend to live pretty hectic lifestyles these days and as a result, need the best quality rest we can get. We sometimes know what causes a bad night’s sleep (such as a little one waking up midnight) but qualifying what constitutes a good night is more complex and varies from person to person.

Sometimes you could also unearth concerns potential health issues which you may want to discuss with your doctor. Being able to see spikes of heart rates in the middle of the night is just one of the many features.


What you’ll need to get started:

iPhone + Apple Watch – you can run the app without an Apple Watch but you are not going to get accurate data.

The app is called “Pillow: Smart sleep tracking” and is published by “Neybox Digital Ltd.”

Upon installing the app, I would strongly recommend giving the authorization to read/write to Apple Health so that it can show you things like graphs weight vs sleep or blood pressure vs sleep if you decide to enter these values in Apple Health.

There are several modes you can select from for tracking sleep. Full sleep cycles & naps for which you can both set alarms and record audio from the microphone of the iPhone.

Pillows data (including the audio recordings) can be saved to the iCloud drive, the recordings for me seem to take on average 1.25MB per night. It goes without saying that this may vary vastly by the user. And do know that you can remove the recordings (or disable the feature completely).

Getting the most out of your data:

Try to be diligent: OK skipping a night here or there isn’t going to hurt. But as they say quality in, quality out! The more sleep sessions you record with Pillow, the more you will be able to see trends and patterns.

Adding notes: Let’s say you take a melatonin supplement, once every while. Or simply change mattress for a month and want to evaluate whether you get a better average sleep quality. You can! Just add custom notes to sleep sessions and you are set. There is an overview slide which will show you if it has a positive or negative impact on your sleep.


More screenshots of the app:


Above: Pillow showing a monthly representation of sleep quality versus steps (calculated from Apple Watch).


Above: Pillow showing a weekly representation of the users morning mood, which the user is able to select upon waking up.


Above: Pillow showing average sleep duration, and breakdown by weekday.


Final words:

I tend to have a limited amount of apps on my phone, but besides email, facebook, and health. It is the only other app that I use on a daily basis – without exception. Obviously like with any application it has its limitations but they certainly listen, as they have proved here on a feature request that I logged a few weeks back.



Why I chose iTunes for my movie collection.

We all have different criteria when selecting our provider for online movie purchases. But once we have made that choice we are pretty much locked into that one provider since there is no way to transfer from one to another.

Here are the reasons why Apple managed to convince me to start off my collection with them:

  • Multilingual content: at the time of writing this article (December 2017) all the movies released to the iTunes store get multilingual audio tracks.
  • Wider selection of movies
  • Integrates with my AppleTV, Mac and iPhone ecosystem seamlessly

That all being said, here are the areas which I would love to see improvements:

  • Multilingual content is limited to movies. Consumers are expected to purchase 2 different versions of the TV series if they would like the English and French version for instance.
  • Whilst not directly related to iTunes content, I will take the opportunity to reiterate the desire for an Amazon Video app for the AppleTV which was promised earlier in the year, however, has not yet been delivered.

Health tracking

After switching to the Apple Watch and the onslaught of health applications, I started to use them regularly to monitor my health and was surprised by their simplicity. I will give a run through of the data entry type and the associated applications (if any).

  • Move, Exercise and Stand activities
    • Automatic entry from Apple Watch
  • Weight and Body Fat Percentage
    • Semi-automatic
      • Weigh-in on Fitbit Aria scale and use FitSync to synchronize data to Apple Health
  • Lean Body Mass
    • Manual entry
  • Waist circumference
    • Manual entry
  • BMI
    • Manual entry
  • Sleep
    • Automatic entry from Pillow
  • Heart rate
    • Automatic entry from Apple Watch
  • Blood Pressure
    • Manual entry
  • Health Records
    • Manual entry from an XML type file sent by the healthcare provider
  • Nutrition
    • Manual entry from MyFitnessPal or FatSecret depending on the country on which I am located in at the time. For instance, FatSecret has a much better database in France than MyFitnessPal.

Birthdays showing a day ahead, in calendar application

I encountered one quirky little issue when updating some of my contacts birthdays in the native Contact calendar. Here is what would happen to each and every contact:

When you enter a birthday let’s say the 8th of January, it would immediately show the 7th of January upon saving. Having traveled around in the past I knew something was out of whack with timezones but did not know where to start troubleshooting, the first obvious start was Google no relevant solution was out there.

After, about 30 minutes I discovered a magic setting in the macOS Calendar application called Turn on time zone support which is visible under Preferences -> Advanced

Screenshot at Nov 26 13-59-36

Once this is enabled you should be golden. At least this is what worked for me on macOS High Sierra.