Why your Android smartwatch just told you to wash your hands - and how to turn it off

(Image credit: Future)

Did you just get a notification from your smartwatch telling you to wash your hands? That may be because Wear OS smartwatches are now offering a Hand Wash Timer feature as part of the latest software update.

The aim of this is to encourage you to wash your hands more throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new feature is part of the Google Clock app that comes as standard on all Wear OS smartwatches. The feature offers an option for you to time your hand washing, and Google has chosen 40 seconds to be the optimum time.

That doesn't match official WHO (World Health Organization) advice that says 20 seconds is enough, but it seems Google is erring on the side of caution and is conscious that the timer may need to be longer for you to start it up before actually washing.

Once you've finished washing your hands, you'll then get a notification on your Android smartwatch saying you'll be reminded again to wash your hands in three hours.

If you don't want to touch your smartwatch, you can also use Google Assistant. Just say "Hey Google, help me wash my hands" and the app will play a song for 40 seconds.

If you're finding this annoying, you may want to turn it off. To do so, you'll be able to hold down on the notification as it arrives and you'll be given an option to disable future notifications there.

If you don't yet have the feature, you'll want to upgrade the Clock app on your Wear OS smartwatch to version 5.4.0.

James Peckham

James is Managing Editor for Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.