A friendly Public Service Announcement for those readers who have the Apple Watch Series 3. If you have been looking for the new Hand Washing timer in WatchOS 7 after upgrading, I have some bad news. It is not available on the Series 3.
One of the key new features of WatchOS 7 touted in the beta cycles for the release was the new Hand Washing timer. The 20 second timer gives users a visual and audible indicator of how long they should wash their hands. The idea, in our COVID-19 pandemic world, was to remind people to wash their hands regularly as part of the efforts to slow its spread. The feature, using the various sensors in your Apple Watch, would detect the sounds and motions of you washing your hands and would auto-magically pop up the timer.
Unfortunately for the Series 3, the Watch doesn’t have the appropriate sensors to make the magic happen nor does it have the horsepower from a SoC perspective to handling the feature. So it is not available. You have to have at least an Apple Watch Series 4 or newer to get the feature. On a Series 4, Series 5, Series 6 or SE Apple Watch, there will be an option to enable or disable the feature in the Settings in the Watch app on your iPhone.
The lack of a new feature on older hardware is not new for Apple or other manufactures. Apple has in the past not made new features in iOS available on older iPhones, usually because of processing power in those older devices simply not being enough to handle the feature. Or, like the Apple Watch Series 3, the device itself may not have the sensors needed to make that feature work.
If you have been giving your Series 3 a bit of side eye now that the new Series 6 is out, this may compel you more to make the upgrade. At less than $20 per month with zero percent interest on the Apple Card, a new Series 6 Watch is certainly affordable and easy to obtain.