Apple Watch: How To Set Up Hand-Washing Notifications & How They Work

How to set up Apple Watch to provide a hand-washing alert when arriving home and count down the recommended 20 seconds of sudsy safety.

Apple built a hand-washing timer into the Apple Watch to help guide the wearer to follow recommended guidelines to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. During the pandemic keeping hands clean is particularly important since transmission from surfaces is possible and the Apple Watch makes this easy with automatic detection and prompts.

Apple quickly shifted the focus of the Apple Watch from fitness tracking and general use to make it a tool to help the owner live a healthier life. With notification of atrial fibrillation, high and low heart rate, and low blood oxygen, as well as continuous monitoring of these and other health metrics, it provides valuable insights into the health status. The Apple Watch has made headlines several times by alerting the wearer of serious problems in advance, potentially saving lives.

Related: This Tiny Gadget Turns Human Sweat Into Electrical Power

While hand-washing is not as critical as a heart problem, Apple recognizes that it is more important than ever during the pandemic and could help prevent the spread of various other transmissible diseases. The Apple Watch includes a clever hand-washing timer that automatically recognizes the sound of water running, using the built-in microphone, and detects hand motion with the accelerometer. The timer starts at 20 seconds, giving encouragement in the form of a soapy, animated circle that surrounds the bubble-like numerical countdown. When complete, the Apple Watch makes a cheerful chirp and displays ‘Well done.’ 20 seconds is the recommendation from the CDC, noting that the concentration of microbes is usually highest under the edge of the nails.

How To Use Apple Watch’s Hand-Wash Timer

The Apple Watch’s hand-washing timer can be enabled and disabled by opening the Settings app and scrolling down to that section. However there are more options when using the Watch app on a paired iPhone. On the My Watch tab, scrolling down and tapping the hand-washing settings will reveal notification and reminder controls. Notification settings are to ‘allow,’ ‘send to the Notification Center,’ or to switch them ‘off.’ If on, there is an option for how these alerts are grouped. It’s unlikely the wearer would be leaving and returning repeatedly, so grouping won’t matter much for this feature.

The only notifications from the hand-washing app is related to arriving home. The reminder alerts the wearer to wash their hands when reaching the location marked as home in Apple Maps and only triggers after leaving and returning. This is a very useful and thoughtful addition to the washing feature, since that is the most important time to wash and get rid of any germs picked up from outside of the home. The Apple Watch’s built-in hand-washing timer is a fun reminder of when and how long to wash in order to protect the wearer and their family from potentially harmful microbes.

Next: How To Find An AirTag With Apple Watch & watchOS 8

Source: Apple, CDC

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