Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been constantly admonished to wash our hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds after touching any surface that might harbor the virus. watchOS 7 (released on September 16, 2020) includes a helpful handwashing timer and reminder app that, when enabled, tells you just how long to keep washing your hands and even tells you to wash your hands when you get home.
Here’s how the Apple Watch Handwashing timer works:
By default, handwashing detection is disabled, so you’ll need to enable it.
- On your Watch, launch the Settings app. The icon looks like a gear, similar to that used for System Preferences on the Mac and for Settings on iOS and iPadOS.
- Using your finger on the screen or by turning the Digital Crown, scroll down the screen until you see Handwashing.
- Tap Handwashing, then tap “Handwashing Timer” so that the white button turns green, indicating that it is enabled.
- If you prefer to be notified when your hands are clean through a vibration rather than sound, tap the Haptics button.
What happens when you begin washing your hands is somewhat magical! The Watch appears to use a combination of sound detection and the movements of handwashing to start the timer. You may see a slight delay once you start washing your hands – I found it takes about five seconds to respond – but the timer is pretty accurate in terms of measuring the total 20 second-hand wash. By the way, if you stop washing your hands during the process, the timer pauses… so get that 20-second wash done.
One other thing…
Once you enable handwashing detection, it may not work right off the bat. I noticed that it took about four hours before it started working. A lot of people are reporting that handwashing detection isn’t working; just be patient and it will work.