KEY POINTS

  • Apple's new watchOS 7 brings new features to the Apple Watch
  • These features include a sleep tracker and handwashing functions
  • Apple's Kevin Lynch said these are a result of years of hard work

The new watchOS 7 adds two new features to the Apple Watch: the much awaited sleep tracking function, and the very timely handwashing feature that will help users amid COVID-19. These new features took Apple years to develop, and now that they're finally here, fans will be able to use them once the public version is released.

Apple's vice president for technology, Kevin Lynch, recently spoke to a variety of outlets to discuss the two new Apple Watch features. He gave a glimpse at the two functions' histories, and explained why they are designed the way they are.

Sleep tracking

Lynch told The Independent that the people behind the Apple Watch's sleep tracking feature spent a great deal of time working to make the function a reality.

“We have spent a lot of time learning about the science of sleep,” Lynch said.

Lynch told CNet that sleep tracking has been one of the features they've wanted to include in the Apple Watch since it was released five years ago. The company, he said, has been researching sleep tech for years, and has decided what features the device's sleep tracking function will include, at least at the time of release, based on what they've learned through the years.

The VP said the company looked into certain things related to sleep like REM (rapid eye movement) cycles, bodily movements (such as arm movements while asleep), and more. What they learned, he said, is that “the main thing here is really about duration.”

Because of these learnings, they've decided to make the Apple Watch's sleep tracking function focus on helping users get enough sleep. The feature will not provide data such as REM sleep details, but instead focus on encouraging users to get as much sleep as they can.

Handwashing

The new handwashing feature, according to Lynch, wasn't created due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He told TechCrunch that the feature was a result of “years of work,” and was something the company was looking forward to release long before the 2019 novel coronavirus spread from China.

Lynch said the feature is a result of years of trial and error. But now that it's here, one can simply see how it will help users develop the healthy habit of washing their hands properly.

The Apple Watch has shaken up the market for wearable tech and pressured Fitbit, which had been the leader in the segment Apple Watch Photo: AFP / Johannes EISELE