Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Google Wear OS starts sending wash hands reminders

Wear OS, Google’s operating system for smartwatches and wearables, has started sending regular reminders asking users to wash their hands in what appears to be a part of the company’s efforts to emphasize good hygiene as a means to curtail the Covid-19 pandemic across the world.

These reminders, which came about as a result of Google Clock’s new v5 4.0 update for smartwatches that run on Google’s wearable platform, asks users to wash their hands at regular intervals and allows them to set a timer that gives a three-second prelude to start the running water and another 40 seconds to actually wash hands.

This is Google’s second initiative on the Covid-19 front following a partnership with Apple to enable contact tracing of coronavirus infections. Guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) asks people to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds or as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice, resulting in several web-based apps, including one that tells users to which celebs they should be singing it to while washing hands.

The Wear OS reminders are set to three hours, which means that users could get buzzed regularly though there is an option to disable them by tapping on the notification and turning them off.

Of course, not too many people out there may benefit from Google’s altruism, given that the Wear OS has been losing ground to the likes of Apple and Samsung though with their acquisition of Fitbit last November, the company could be looking at a revival in its fortunes over the coming months.

Having already contributed to a number of causes around the Covid-19 pandemic that includes partnering with WHO for live updates, a news shelf on YouTube, an India-specific website with food and shelter map and local store locations on its payment app, this could be Google’s way of nudging its wearables into public consciousness.

How far the hand wash alert would help and where it could become an intrusion is something that users would decide after using it for a few more days during the current lockdown.

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