Apple introduces new Covid-19 features: Hand washing guides and a mask-wearing emoji

Key Points
  • Apple will remind you to wash your hands and guide you to do so correctly using the Apple Watch.
  • It's actually harder than it sounds. 
  • That's just one of the features that Apple has introduced to help people meet the public health guidelines during the pandemic. 
WatchOS 7 will have a timer that helps you wash your hands long enough.

It's not as easy as it sounds to correctly wash your hands. Most people don't scrub for long enough or wash them as frequently as they need to. Even health care professionals don't sufficiently wash their hands, despite being aware of the benefits, as numerous studies have shown. 

So Apple just announced a new feature for the Apple Watch to help users wash their hands in the right way. The feature will launch with WatchOS 7, the new software for the Apple Watch that'll be available later this year.

The company at its WWDC developer conference noted that the feature will be particularly useful during the pandemic. Public health groups, including the C.D.C., are reminding people to wash their hands after going for a walk or making a trip to the grocery store. 


The new feature includes a hand washing timer that counts down. It uses motion sensors and listens to the sound of water on people's hands, and guides them to wash their hands correctly. 

It should be noted that consumers should take care to disinfect their iPhones and Apple Watches, as well as to wash their hands. 


The move could help Apple move more deeply into the medical sector. It is hoping to beat outs rivals, including Android, in selling its watches and tablets into hospitals and clinics. By offering hand-washing features, the company could try to convince health system execs to subsidize the cost - although some might discourage jewelry, including Apple Watches, as part of routine infection control. There are start-ups, including SwipeSense, that already sell hand-washing sensing tools into hospitals to encourage hygiene compliance. Some Samsung watches also have a similar hand washing guide.

In another nod to the pandemic, the company is also updating its popular memoji feature, which lets you create a customized emoji that looks like you, with an option to sport a face covering. The CDC recommends that people use face coverings to prevent the spread of the virus. 

Apple unveils new iOS with interface updates, translation app
Apple unveils new iOS with interface updates, translation app