Apple Watch Executive Kevin Lynch Discusses New Sleep Tracking and Hand Washing Features

Following WWDC last week, Apple's VP of Technology Kevin Lynch has taken time to discuss the Apple Watch's new sleep tracking and hand washing features in watchOS 7 with publications like The Independent, CNET, and TechCrunch.

apple watch sleep tracking and hand washing
While some third-party apps provide very detailed sleep analysis, Apple's implementation of sleep tracking is fairly basic, focusing only on duration of sleep, movement disturbances, and heart rate. Lynch told CNET that this simplicity was an intentional decision, noting that Apple did research and found that extra data was not entirely useful.

"Movement of your arm is an input, but it's not a complete picture of what's going on inside your brain," said Lynch, as an example.

"You can't really coach yourself to have more or less REM stages," he added. "We felt like that wasn't the best way Apple could add value here on sleep. We focused on the transition to the bed, which we think is way more actionable, and will result in people getting a better night's sleep, which then has secondary effects of perhaps your REM stages sorting themselves."

Lynch said that, through research, Apple ultimately determined that duration of sleep is the most important metric.

"In any of these adventures we go on when building things here we ask, what will make the most difference for people that, from a mainstream perspective, will be easy, helpful and empowering," Lynch told The Independent.

Like many other health features on the Apple Watch, the Sleep app provides positive reinforcement only. If users meet their sleep goals, they receive positive feedback, but if they do not, the Watch stays silent.

"There could be anxiety that people have about going to sleep, and that anxiety itself can actually cause more problems in terms of going to sleep," Lynch told CNET. "Many people are already well aware that they haven't been getting enough sleep, and so we're not adding to that, but we are positively acknowledging when you have achieved your goals."

As for hand washing coaching in watchOS 7, Lynch told TechCrunch that the functionality was the result of "years of work." The feature encourages users to wash their hands for a CDC-recommended 20 seconds by providing a countdown with haptic feedback. If a user opts in, the feature automatically activates when the sound of hand washing is detected.

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Series 6
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

Top Rated Comments

nebulousfish Avatar
11 months ago
Next: brushing your teeth detection
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Allwrong Avatar
11 months ago

Snowflake generation. I almost fell off my chair watching this at the WWDC. An app to tell you how long you're washing your hands for. I wonder how many well-paid engineers were tasked with solving this problem.

It reminds me that this company has way to much money and resources if they can afford to devote those things to this.
If you had fallen out of the chair I would hope you had an Apple Watch with fall detection. Is that also snowflake generation?

Just because a feature isn't for you doesn't mean others will not benefit from it. As pointed out by another poster I am sure not many people knew how long to wash their hands to be effective.

Some companies have too much money and some people have too much time.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
now i see it Avatar
11 months ago
Let's see... Let people count to 20 while washing their hands or "spend years of work" developing the software and sensors to count to 20 while they wash their hands.
Genius!
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ElectricPotato Avatar
11 months ago

Snowflake generation.
I would not condemn an entire generation because Apple engineers are having trouble finding useful applications for their techno baubles.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nattK Avatar
11 months ago
I agree with him regarding sleep tracking. Short of an EEG, it’s nearly impossible to measure REM accurately let alone by something strapped onto your wrist. I like how Apple chose to forgo in-depth sleep tracking with the watch instead of providing inaccurate data.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Relentless Power Avatar
11 months ago
Love the 20 second handwash feature. How many people before the pandemic and before this feature was available, knew to actually wash their hands 20 seconds for it to be affective for proper sanitization? (Rhetorical) I’m guessing not many. It’s at least serves as a reminder [Being the watch is health oriented] to be more mindful of thoroughly washing your hands for the proper amount of time.

It’s a Genius feature!
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

april 2021 event coverage feature

Apple Event Live Coverage: New iPads, AirTags, and More Expected [Event Over]

Tuesday April 20, 2021 9:07 am PDT by
Apple's virtual "Spring Loaded" event kicks off today at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, with Apple expected to debut updated iPad models and perhaps some other hardware such as AirTags or iMac models based on Apple silicon. Apple is providing a live video stream on its website, on YouTube, and in the company's TV app across its platforms. We will also be updating this article with live blog...
m1 imac colors

Apple Announces Redesigned iMac With M1 Chip and Seven Color Options

Tuesday April 20, 2021 10:22 am PDT by
Apple has announced a new, redesigned 24-inch iMac, featuring an M1 chip, a 4.5K display, and a range of color options, as well as an improved cooling system, front-facing camera, speaker system, microphones, power connector, and peripherals. The new iMac features a completely new compact design, and comes in a range of seven striking colors, including green, yellow, orange, pink, purple,...
duan rui iphone 12 13 notch

New Images Show Smaller iPhone 13 Notch Compared to iPhone 12

Saturday April 17, 2021 11:38 pm PDT by
Leaker known as "DuanRui" has shared more images that could give us our best look yet at Apple's redesigned notch for the iPhone 13. The new pictures follow similar images shared by the leaker last week, but the latest shots include a comparison with the existing iPhone 12 notch. DuanRui posted three images on Twitter that apparently originate from Weibo, although source details remain...
Top Stories 57 Feature

Top Stories: Apple Event Next Tuesday, Mini-LED iPad Pro, iPhone Rumors

Saturday April 17, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
It feels like we've been waiting forever for new Apple products, but the wait is almost over as Apple has announced a media event for next Tuesday, so make sure to tune into MacRumors for full coverage of everything Apple announces. While that was the big news this week, we also got some new details on Apple's iPhone plans for 2022 and 2023 courtesy of analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, and we also saw...
iphone 12 preorder purple

Apple Launching iPhone 12 and 12 Mini in New Purple Color on April 30

Tuesday April 20, 2021 10:08 am PDT by
Apple today announced that the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini will be available in a new purple color starting April 30, with pre-orders starting this Friday. Apple is also releasing a new MagSafe Leather Case and Leather Sleeve in Deep Violet, a Silicone Case in Capri Blue, Pistachio, Cantaloupe, or Amethyst, and a Leather Wallet in Arizona, all available to order beginning today. iPhone...
f1618938547

Apple Announces AirTag Tracking Devices Starting At $29 Each

Tuesday April 20, 2021 10:10 am PDT by
Apple today announced AirTag, a Tile-like Bluetooth tracking device that's designed to be attached to items like keys and wallets for tracking purposes, letting you find them right in the Find My app. AirTags are accessories for attaching to backpacks, luggage, and other items. Any U1 device like the iPhone 12 can be used for precision finding to guide you right to the item you're looking...
iPad Pro

New 12.9-Inch iPad Pro Will Be 0.5mm Thicker to Accommodate Mini-LED Display

Monday April 19, 2021 11:30 am PDT by
The upcoming 12.9-inch iPad Pro will be thicker than the previous-generation version, likely due to the inclusion of the mini-LED display. We've heard several rumors about the change in thickness, and now leaked design images have confirmed it. A source that designs accessories for Apple devices sent MacRumors a series of photos that feature exact dimensions for the new iPad Pro models, and...
ipad pro with m1 chip

Apple Introduces Next-Generation iPad Pro With M1 Chip, Thunderbolt, 5G, XDR Display, and More

Tuesday April 20, 2021 10:40 am PDT by
Apple today announced the next-generation iPad Pro with the same M1 chip found in the latest Macs, Thunderbolt and USB4 support, 5G connectivity on cellular models with mmWave support in the United States, and more. With an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU, Apple says the M1 chip in the new iPad Pro provides up to 50% faster performance and up to 40% faster graphics compared to the A12Z Bionic chip ...
iPad Pro Feature Orange

Wedbush Analysts Say 'Spring Loaded' Event Will Debut New iPads With 'Modest Price Increase,' Along With 'a Few Surprises'

Monday April 19, 2021 6:37 am PDT by
Apple is planning to launch a new entry-level iPad, iPad mini, and iPad Pro at its "Spring Loaded" event tomorrow, along with "a few surprises," according to Wedbush analysts. In a new note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Wedbush analysts Daniel Ives and Strecker Backe explained that the iPad will be the main focus of Apple's "Spring Loaded" event, with new entry-level iPad, iPad mini, and ...
flat imac 3d 3 teal

Reliable Leaker Hints Redesigned Colorful iMac to Debut at 'Spring Loaded' Event

Saturday April 17, 2021 4:43 am PDT by
Reliable leaker known as l0vetodream has hinted that Apple may debut its rumored redesigned and colorful iMac at its "Spring Loaded" event on Tuesday, April 20. In a tweet, the leaker posted an image of Apple's logo used for marketing the upcoming event and an image of the retro rainbow Apple logo alongside the colorful lineup of G3 iMacs. Apple leaker Jon Prosser previously reported that...