With Apple Watch and watchOS 7 we're washing our hands longer in fear of reprimand

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited July 2020
With watchOS 7, the Apple Watch now helps you wash your hands properly by detecting when you begin washing and timing you.

Washing hands completed message in watchOS 7
Washing hands completed message in watchOS 7


While some users may find this feature tedious, it will certainly be beneficial for some. And for those who don't appreciate it, it can quickly be disabled.

Apple has been working on handwashing for Apple Watch for years, long before the outbreak of COVID-19. The effort is clear as we've tested the feature time and time again.




On Apple Watch

Unlike other features of the Apple Watch that have their own dedicated app, handwashing lives nearly entirely in the background. It cannot be manually initiated and instead automatically begins based on the round-the-clock monitoring that Apple Watch is doing.

Handwashing countdown on Apple Watch
Handwashing countdown on Apple Watch


The Apple Watch, especially the newest models, are monitoring you throughout the day. At night, it now monitors your sleeping patterns. During the day, it monitors you for irregular heart rate as well as a for potential fall. Now, watchOS 7 has added handwashing to that list.

Here's how it works: You go to wash your hands. As you begin to clean them, your Apple Watch will automatically start a countdown, and once 20 seconds have elapsed, it will tap you on the wrist as well as audibly let you know you've thoroughly washed.

To know when you are washing, Apple Watch looks for the common movements that are distinctive to handwashing, as well as the sound of running water.

In our testing over the past few weeks, Apple Watch does a great job of detecting handwashing, usually showing up after about five seconds of handwashing -- at which point you are credited for that elapsed time. So if you start washing, then six seconds later the Apple Watch has detected it, it will count down the remaining 14 seconds.

Settings for Handwashing in watchOS 7
Settings for Handwashing in watchOS 7


Once your hands are washed, Apple Watch gives you a "good job" message constructed of soapy bubbles. By default, haptic feedback is enabled, though it can be disabled in settings. In our experience, it is easy to see the watch face in the mirror to give us a good idea of how much time is remaining.

Alert when hands aren't washed long enough
Alert when hands aren't washed long enough


If you don't scrub long enough, you will get an alert reminding you that washing your hands for a full 30 seconds will help kill germs that could make you ill.

On your iPhone

Once you've started using the Apple Watch handwashing tracking, you may want to view your handwashing stats. This is where the Health app on your Phone comes into play.

Handwashing results in Health app on iPhone in iOS 14
Handwashing results in Health app on iPhone in iOS 14


From the Health app, under Handwashing, you will see your average for the day, the week, month and year. It is interesting to see your time trending higher, and if you've met the recommended handwashing goals.

The Health app also includes a guide on handwashing that includes recommended practices and techniques.

Putting health at the forefront

Finished handwashing with watchOS 7
Finished handwashing with watchOS 7


Over the last few iterations, Apple has continued to prioritize health. It started with reminders to stand and move, and now it has progressed to sleeping more and ensuring you are washing your hands long enough.

A natural progression of this is possible to remind people to wash their hands. If the watch doesn't detect handwashing for a day or half a day, perhaps it could let you know that you may want to scrub up, especially during the ongoing pandemic.

Personally, we've found the new feature useful and have noticed an improvement in how long we wash our hands, even if just for fear of an Apple Watch reprimand.

Existing features

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    Honest question, if you don't know how to wash your hands, how have you made it this far in life to where you can afford an Apple Watch?
  • Reply 2 of 11
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    Odd that Apple was working on this long before the COVID-19 outbreak. 
  • Reply 3 of 11
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 836member
    razorpit said:
    Honest question, if you don't know how to wash your hands, how have you made it this far in life to where you can afford an Apple Watch?
    Haha, I posed a similar question last week when one of the authors referred to it as “cute” or “adorable” or some crap. Hand washing trends now too? LMFAO.
  • Reply 4 of 11
    riverkoriverko Posts: 127member
    I don’t know how i could survive without this feature :) but still have to wait as the public beta says ‘coming soon’ :)
    edited July 2020
  • Reply 5 of 11
    XedXed Posts: 1,028member
    razorpit said:
    Honest question, if you don't know how to wash your hands, how have you made it this far in life to where you can afford an Apple Watch?
    Where did you see the Watch tell you how to wash your hands? If you can't see the potential benefit for this in society then I'm sure you are someone that doesn't spend 20 seconds washing their hands. Are you one of those people that barely gets their hands wet so you can trick people into thinking you are a hand washer in public restrooms? No one is fooled.
    StrangeDayslolliver
  • Reply 6 of 11
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 836member
    Xed said:
    razorpit said:
    Honest question, if you don't know how to wash your hands, how have you made it this far in life to where you can afford an Apple Watch?
    Where did you see the Watch tell you how to wash your hands? If you can't see the potential benefit for this in society then I'm sure you are someone that doesn't spend 20 seconds washing their hands. Are you one of those people that barely gets their hands wet so you can trick people into thinking you are a hand washer in public restrooms? No one is fooled.
    Quite an interesting leap of logic you make there. 
  • Reply 7 of 11
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,566member
    razorpit said:
    Honest question, if you don't know how to wash your hands, how have you made it this far in life to where you can afford an Apple Watch?
    Who says you don’t know how to? This is about time, and the established fact is people don’t wash their hands as often or as long as they’re supposed to. (Just heard a radio interview with an author of a new book about the history of soap, germ theory, and hand washing. Her data made clear people don’t wash as often or long as recommended, and even lie about it.) Even the writer of this article said they learned they were cheating 5 seconds off on average.

    Why are most Americans overweight? Same thing. We cheat. Tools help keep us honest. 
    edited July 2020 lolliver
  • Reply 8 of 11
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 946member
    Just watch a couple of episodes of Monsters Inside Me, and you’ll never touch anything, ever again. 
  • Reply 9 of 11
    designrdesignr Posts: 617member
    Next up...machine learning to detect and warn you if you're not wearing a mask in your selfie.

     ;)  :p
  • Reply 10 of 11
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    razorpit said:
    Honest question, if you don't know how to wash your hands, how have you made it this far in life to where you can afford an Apple Watch?
    Who says you don’t know how to? This is about time, and the established fact is people don’t wash their hands as often or as long as they’re supposed to. (Just heard a radio interview with an author of a new book about the history of soap, germ theory, and hand washing. Her data made clear people don’t wash as often or long as recommended, and even lie about it.) Even the writer of this article said they learned they were cheating 5 seconds off on average.

    Why are most Americans overweight? Same thing. We cheat. Tools help keep us honest. 
    The next imaginary battleground for the right-wing anti-vaxxer/anti-mask brigade. They’ll claim it’s their constitutional right to leave a public bathroom with their hands covered in their own poop. 
    Xedlolliver
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