KEY POINTS

  • Apple Watch users can now enjoy the new handwashing feature
  • The feature was designed to help people establish proper handwashing habits
  • An Apple exec said a team within the company had thought about creating a handwashing feature “quite a while ago”

Apple added a slew of enhancements and new features to the Apple Watch experience via the watchOS 7. The improvements, which are meant to give users the best experience they can have from the company's popular  health-centered wearable, include the new handwashing feature.

The watchOS 7's handwashing feature works by monitoring the user's hand movements, then automatically initiating a countdown timer when the device detects that the user is washing hands. The feature is designed to help Apple Watch users develop the healthy habit of washing hands properly.

Indeed, the new feature is a timely addition to the Apple Watch's abilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But how did Apple come up with it?

A team

Alan Dye, Apple's vice-president for human interface design, had an interview with “Hodinkee Radio” where he spoke about the creation of certain software and user interface features found on the Apple Watch. One of the things he discussed was the new handwashing feature.

The VP said Apple had a team that looked into new features that could be incorporated into new watchOS and Apple Watch versions. He said this team thought about creating a handwashing feature “quite a while ago ... quite a few months ago.”

Dye shared that the Apple team had a “deep understanding” as to how they can determine if a person is washing hands. He added that the team that worked on the feature “scrambled to come up with a UI and experience that would encourage users to wash their hands for 20 seconds.” The result is the handwashing feature introduced in watchOS 7.

Very timely

Apple's VP for technology, Kevin Lynch, previously said that the new feature was the result of “years of work” and was something the company actually looked forward to releasing before COVID-19 started spreading.

Dye's statements indicated that while the company already had the idea for the handwashing feature long before COVID-19 hit the streets, the company was only able to put the feature together just in time for watchOS 7's release amid the pandemic – and what a timely release it was.

Handwashing Proper handwashing prevents the spread of harmful germs, bacteria and viruses. Photo: Burst / Pexels