Apple gets COVID-19 savvy with Apple Watch and Memojis

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Apple is adding COVID-19 to its repertoire.

At its developer conference, which started on Monday, Apple said the new operating system for the Apple Watch will add a reminder to wash your hands, while Apple Memojis will get COVID-19 customization, adding face mask coverings.

One of the first lines of defense against the coronavirus is washing your hands. With that in mind, Apple will add a feature to the upcoming watchOS 7 that checks your handwashing hygiene. The update will use the Apple Watch’s motion sensors, microphone, and machine learning to know when you’re washing up.

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When the Watch detects hand washing, a 20-second countdown will start. It will also encourage users to keep washing if they’ve stopped before the 20-second mark. There will also be a reminder to wash your hands when you’ve returned home.

While that may feel like overkill to some, Apple is increasingly focusing the Watch – by far, the leading smartwatch worldwide, according to IDC – on monitoring your health.

The Apple Watch can already monitor heart rates, keep track of menstrual cycles, and let people know if noise levels could impact their hearing, among other health features. If someone has type 1 or type 2 diabetes, there are apps such as Dexcom G6 that can check the levels on their glucose monitor from your Watch.

These features can be added to the Watch face so they’re front and center throughout the day.

Additionally, Apple announced that new Memoji in iOS 14 can be customized with face masks.

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Memoji is an animated avatar that you can personalize by adding facial expressions that are similar to your own. Memoji can be used for stickers that appear in iMessage, videos, or profiles, among other uses.

States such as California and Massachusetts require face masks in public, so adding this feature should be welcomed by Apple Memoji users in those states.

Apple will also add 20 more hairstyles, headwear and other options and three new Memoji stickers for iMessage: a hug, fist bump, and a blushing gesture.

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