New Apple Watch update will make sure you're washing your hands properly

Apple is trying to do its part as the vast majority of the world continues to battle Covid-19, with the latest update for its Apple Watch operating system able to monitor people as they wash their hands.

Apple's new WatchOS 7 includes automatic handwashing tracking. Source: iStock / Apple

As part of WatchOS 7, revealed today, there's an option for automatic handwashing detection.

Apple says it's a "first-of-its-kind innovation for a wearable".

It works by using the motion sensors and microphone in the Apple Watch, as well as "on-device machine learning", to detect handwashing motions and sounds.

Health authorities say you should be washing your hands for at least 20 seconds to make sure you've properly cleaned, so once the watch detects handwashing has begun, it starts a 20-second timer.

If you stop early, it prompts you to keep washing your hands.

"Apple Watch can also conveniently remind the user to wash their hands when they return home," Apple says.

The tech company says the audio heard during handwashing isn't automatically recorded or saved, but you can choose to let it be saved and sent to Apple so it can keep developing and improving the feature.

As well as the timely handwashing tracker, WatchOS 7 also includes sleep tracking with the accelerator, Apple says.

The sleep tracking includes a Wind Down mode to help people get to bed on time, as well as a silent haptic alarm.

Other new features include a tweak to the workout feature, adding four new workout types: core training, functional strength training, dance and cooldown.

The watch faces themselves are also being updated.

The new WatchOS will be officially released in spring as a free update, and will work on the Apple Watch Series 3, 4 and 5, paired with an iPhone 6S or above running at least iOS 14.