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By Health
June 25, 2020
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In the age of COVID-19, proper handwashing is more important than ever, and Apple wants to help make sure you're washing up right. The tech giant revealed that the newest Apple Watch (from $399, apple.com) update, watchOS 7, will include a new feature that can detect when the wearer is washing their hands and prompt them to do it for at least 20 seconds, per Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

Apple Watch's handwashing feature was unveiled at Monday’s WWDC, the company's annual developer conference (it was held virtually this year, for obvious reasons). The feature, expected to be out in the fall, will rely on motion sensors and sounds to know when the wearer is washing up. When handwashing is detected, the watch will set a 20-second countdown timer.

The Apple Watch also provides "haptic feedback" (the use of touch in digital communication) to guide wearers through proper hand hygiene guidelines. Every second your hands are under running water, it will tap your wrist, as well as issue a sound alert. The watch also vibrates to signal that the 20 seconds are up. If you stop washing your hands before that point, you’ll get a notification to keep doing it. 

The handwashing feature will sync with Apple's Health app, which means you can track your handwashing timing and frequency. (Spreadsheet, anyone?) The Health app will also provide information on the importance of handwashing in relation to general health. 

And if you're worried about forgetting to wash your hands when you get home—one of the most important times to do it—your Apple Watch will remind you to go straight to the sink right away, just like a fussy parent.

The watchOS 7 update isn't the only pandemic-related feature from Apple. The new iPhone software, iOS 14, will give users the option of adding face masks to their customizable Memojis. 

Sleep tracking will also be introduced with watchOS 7. By detecting the micro movements that indicate respiration during sleep, the Apple Watch will record when the wearer is sleeping, plus how much sleep they get each night. The wearer will receive a weekly sleep trend chart that includes daily data, such as periods of wake and sleep.

Another feature of the Apple Watch update will appeal to anyone who has discovered a love of cycling during the pandemic. Large, easy-to-read cycling directions will be available on the wrist, while Maps can notify the wearer when it's time to dismount and walk the bike. It will also let you select the most direct cycling route for your destination, one that avoids steep hills or takes you there the quickest.

Other cool iOS 14 features include picture-in-picture videos for iPhones (no more switching between apps) and an App Library feature across all Apple devices that will make apps easily accessible. 

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