A ‘watchful’ app for handwashing and more.

Apple Watch Adds Handwashing App in Time for WWDC

We do it several times a day, but it’s never been more important. Over the past five months, people have sung the “Happy Birthday” song so often to time their 20 seconds of handwashing, they have both covid and singing fatigue. Happily for Apple, it’s offering an alternative with its new handwashing app as part of the Apple watch.

According to a techcrunch.com story by Brian Heater:

“Handwashing for the Apple Watch (is) happily slotted alongside face masks for Memojis in the list of COVID-19-related features the company introduced at last week’s WWDC keynote.”

The Apple Watch handwashing app wasn’t built overnight. The feature was the result of “years of work,” VP of Technology Kevin Lynch told TechCrunch. It took years of trial and error to perfect it.

Although it’s not the first smartwatch app of its kind, it may be the best one. Samsung was quick to the market to introduce a Galaxy Watch app designed for users to wash their hands for 20 seconds, but Apple’s version is listed with health features such as the Noise app, which leverages the device’s built-in sensors to provide clever applications that contribute to the watch’s overall health focus.

Built directly into the new watchOS, it’s designed to work like fitness tracking. If the user opts in, it will automatically trigger when handwashing is detected, starting a countdown timer of 20 seconds. The accelerometer waits for the specific handwashing pattern — adapting to different methods, depending on who’s wearing the watch.

The app has different models for detecting if handwashing is really taking place. The sound of water or the squish of soap between fingers are two ways the app listens. While handwashing is a generic way to fight the virus, Apple is intending to assist with contact tracing as well.

“While we haven’t studied specifically how Apple Watch can track COVID, we’re happy to support the research the medical community is doing. We really support their initiatives by enabling our colleagues in the space, and we’re excited to see what they learn,” Apple’s VP of Health, Sumbul Ahmad Desai, tells TechCrunch.

Other tech companies are working on the same app. In May, Fitbit announced that it was in the early stages of creating one.

read more at techcrunch.com