One of the new features of watchOS 7 highlighted at WWDC 2020 is the handwashing detection, which helps users wash their hands properly to eliminate germs. This feature is disabled by default, so read on as we explain how to enable and use handwashing detection in watchOS 7.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends washing hands for at least 20 seconds to ensure that most germs are eliminated. While handwashing is crucial in any situation, this habit became even more essential during the COVID-19 pandemic as the virus can be transmitted by hand contact.

Apple Watch now shows a countdown to help you wash your hands for 20 seconds. There are also haptic feedbacks and sounds to make the process more intuitive, so users don’t have to look at the screen while washing their hands.

The best part of the handwashing feature of watchOS 7 is that it works automatically, so you don’t need to open any app to get started. The system can identify sounds of water and soap when you rub your hands. The combination of these sounds with the movements of the hand triggers the handwashing countdown.

Apple has opted to not enable handwashing detection by default, but if you’re already running watchOS 7 on your Apple Watch, here’s how to enable it:

  1. Open the Settings app on Apple Watch
  2. Scroll down and tap Handwashing
  3. Turn on the Timer toggle
  4. Turn on the Haptics toggle (optional)

Once you’ve enabled handwashing detection, you can check more details about each time you washed your hands in the Health app on your iPhone. Just follow the steps below:

  1. Open the Health app on iPhone (it requires iOS 14)
  2. Tap the Browse tab
  3. Search for Handwashing
  4. Tap the Handwashing option

Personally, the feature worked as promised most of the time with my Apple Watch, although it was randomly activated in some situations. Keep in mind that watchOS 7 is still a beta software and handwashing detection is likely to be improved until the final release.

watchOS 7 is available as a developer beta and it’s expected to be released for everyone this fall. A public beta version will be available later this month.

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