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How does the Apple Watch remind you to wash your hands?

Apple Watch

With the advent of watchOS 7 and iOS 14, it is now possible to configure Apple Watch (Series 4 or later) to count down when you are washing your hands and to remind you to do so when you get home.

You may think that we are underestimating you. Do you really need to be reminded to wash your hands? We already have mothers and fathers for that. Well, in the current times of the coronavirus, it does not hurt to not infect or not infect, so perhaps it is not a bad idea to configure it on your watch.

Some watches with Google’s wearOS system have had a similar feature since spring. However, this has to be activated each time for the smartwatch to count down when washing hands.

You might think this handwashing feature comes in response to COVID-19, but according to Apple, the feature has been in development for years. It is based on the detection of sounds and hand movements that are typically made when washing.

If the microphone detects the typical splashes and the motion sensor detects the rubbing of the hands, the Apple Watch will begin the countdown.

How to set up hand washing on Apple Watch

To set up your Apple Watch to help you wash your hands, you’ll need to follow these steps:

1. Open the Clock app on your paired iPhone and go to ‘Settings’.

2. In the list of available apps, you will see the app located between ‘Noise’ and ‘Health’.

3. Now you can activate the hand washing function. In the settings of the Clock app you will find the timer to configure hand washing.

How to set up hand washing alerts

You will also find the option ‘Reminders’ for hand washing. With this setting selected, the app will detect that you have been home for a few minutes and will remind you to wash your hands.

For this to work, you must give permission for your location to be used by this app. Select ‘Always when using the app’. Now, your Apple Watch will recognize that you have arrived home and will suggest that you wash your hands.

How Apple Watch Calculates Handwashing

When Apple Watch detects that you are washing your hands, it will send haptic information to your wrist. You will see that a nice timer with soap bubbles appears on the clock face while you are washing them. After 20 seconds, you will see a thumb up.

We have been using this feature since the beta version of watchOS 7 came out . It seems that the more times you wash your hands, the more accurate the function becomes when it comes to detecting that you are washing it (although this might only be limited to beta).

The Apple Watch may have trouble identifying that you are washing your hands in unfamiliar bathrooms, perhaps because every sink sounds different, so the algorithm cannot always recognize that you are doing it in new environments.

How to view your hand washing data

The Apple Watch collects data on handwashing through the Health app. The information can be viewed in the iPhone Health app by going to ‘Discover’, followed by ‘Other information’.

You can see your hand washing data in the daily, weekly, monthly and annual section. Below you will find the list of all the times that hand washing has been detected. If you want, you can eliminate false positives, that is, when it was detected but you were not washing it.


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