KEY POINTS

  • The watchOS 7 comes with a new Handwashing feature
  • This feature helps Apple Watch users develop healthy handwashing habits
  • This is available to all Apple Watches running on watchOS 7

Apple added a very timely feature called “Handwashing” to watchOS 7.

This feature will help everyone develop and maintain the healthy habit of properly washing their hands, which is important at a time like this when the world is reeling from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The new feature, which will be available for Apple Watches that can run watchOS 7, was developed long before the coronavirus outbreak began. Apple's vice president for technology, Kevin Lynch, recently said that the new Handwashing feature is a result of “years of work,” indicating that the company intended to help people develop the healthy habit prior to COVID-19.

Those years of work produced an easy-to-use feature that doesn't require users to do anything except to enable it to work. Once enabled, the feature will monitor movements and automatically launch itself once it detects that the user is washing hands.

Apple Watch leather straps These Apple Watch leather straps will give a style boost to any of your outfits. Photo: AFP / Johannes EISELE

Here's how to enable the Handwashing feature in watchOS 7:

  • First, users will need to go to Settings on an Apple Watch running watchOS 7. Users can do this by pressing the Digital Crown on their Apple Watches, then going to the Settings app.
  • Second, once the Settings app is up, users will need to scroll to Handwashing and tap on it, then enable the Timer option.

Once the feature is enabled, all users need to do is wash their hands. The Apple Watch will monitor user movements using its sensors and microphone. Once it detects movements akin to washing hands, it will start a 20-second countdown to encourage users to wash for this duration. Those who finish before the countdown ends will be nudged to keep washing until the time is up.

Some might think 20 seconds is too long, but it's actually worth taking the time. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing or scrubbing hands with soap for 20 seconds as this will help remove and prevent the spread of germs and other disease-causing elements from human hands. Apple's new watchOS 7 feature is simply meant to help users consistently do that.

Users will need to enable the Handwashing feature as it is disabled by default. Users can also set it to remind them to wash their hands periodically or when they arrive home from other places.