The Apple Watch as a Pandemic Peripheral

Originally published at: The Apple Watch as a Pandemic Peripheral - TidBITS

Is the Apple Watch even more attractive than normal during the pandemic? Julio Ojeda-Zapata has been pondering its utility in the coronavirus context, and he’s increasingly using his watch so he doesn’t have to keep digging out—and later disinfecting—his iPhone. He’s trying to talk his wife into doing the same—we’ll see how that goes.

I have exclusively switched to using my Apple Watch for tap-to-pay since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Prior to this, I didn’t even have it set up on my watch, and used my iPhone exclusively for this. But mask-wearing and a long passcode makes using the iPhone for tap-to-pay annoying, and it’s so much simpler on the watch.

I really don’t think that I have used my watch for much else that I wouldn’t have otherwise since the pandemic started though. I have answered a call or two, but I don’t make or receive many calls anyway. I have always used my watch for notification triage, and occasionally use the watch to reply for easier one-tap replies (OK, Thanks, No, Yes, etc.), but I really always did this.

1 Like

I’ve been told repeatedly to invest in a basic fingertip pulse oximeter since blood-oxygen monitoring is a way to monitor for the possible onset of COVID-19, but procrastination is one of my superpowers. How awesome is it that I now have that capability on my wrist?

Just a note that fingertip pulse oximeters are quite inexpensive. In Australia, they are about $40–$100. Also can be shared between multiple family members. Some run on AAA batteries. I don’t know if they are a real plus in a watch for COVID-19 reasons. Might be useful for sports-related calculations.

Not just your phone or watch, but the mouse/track pad, keyboard and screen. Heck, I never realized the amount of “spray” from talking at my screen till when I had to shutdown and light angle shown spatter marks. (you know like when you yawn and your tongue acts like an orange peel). Also, some folks still drink/eat near their systems and carbonated beverages can leave spray on screens, along with gross amount of food stuff on/in keyboards.

I use and recommend ChemWipes (91% alcohol pads), SpraywWay (non-ammonia) foaming glass cleaner (under $3/can), and sanitizer wipes on non-electronic parts. When I visit clients or others, and have to work on their systems (even before Covid), I would first clean up their setup-white keyboards get dirty fast-and their mice. I have some microfiber cloths with me, and will also clean portable screens that when I am done, look like new. Just don’t use fragranted or glass-cleaners that have ammonia. Or bring your own K/M as I have seen those Apple BT keyboards not allow for some startup commands that a USB Apple Keyboard will easily allow.

While my apple watch has been pretty helpful in keeping my phone in my pocket and not in my hands when out and about, the most useful device to me has been the AirPods Pro. Say what you will about the quality of Siri, as a tool to listen to/respond to texts and phone calls completely hands free I don’t see a better option.

1 Like

I, too, have found the hand washing alert kicking in when I’m washing the dishes but found a simple workaround: before I start washing, I swipe up on the Apple Watch and turn on Theater Mode, which seems to disable the hand washing alert when active. When I finish washing, I swipe up again and deactivate the mode.

Like you, I don’t use my 5-year old Watch much; mainly for hands free use of my iPhone. However, I’m going to have to throw the watch in the trash because the screen decided it no longer wants to be attached to the watch. I was able to do a temporary fix by tacking it with superglue but it only lasted for about 5 wearings. So I’m going to have to see if I want to buy another extremely fragile $$$.$$ watch or maybe see if I can find a cheaper non-Apple wrist wearable that will work with my iPhone 10. I can’t really afford to buy $$$.$$ watches every couple of years due to non-repairability.

At one time the detaching screen was a free repair for some models. You might want to check with an Apple Store to see if it applies for you.

For diagnosis of possible COVID-19 coughing, fever, fatigue and shortness of breath are much better predictors and easier to obtain. Then someone should be tested.

Near as I could find out, it isn’t. Besides, all the Apple Stores are closed so even if my original Watch had been covered, there would not be anywhere to take it. I should never have replaced my Helium BT wrist phone with the watch, I guess, but I wanted to only wear one item on my wrist rather then the Helium and my Seiko watch.

3 posts were merged into an existing topic: A Tour of New York State’s COVID Alert NY App

Tonya a Luddite? Does she actively go around smashing your computers?? :slight_smile:

Thanks for the tips on the NYS app. I installed the Google version on my Android phone, it is just as you describe.

I once got my iPhone 4 submerged in sea water. When I retrieved it I ran up to the house and poured isopropanol into all openings to replace the seawater. This iPhone is now still working and delivering music to our modest Hi-Fi at the same summer house where it once was submerged in sea water. I am not afraid of using hand sanitizer on my new iPhone. I am from Norway so I think you will have problem suing me if you follow my advice and things go wrong. So anyway, follow Apples advice, not mine.


I have trouble getting the hand washing timer to start, works maybe 50% of the time. The reminder to wash my hands is useful. I have an Apple Watch 4, I am considering the 6 if the oxygen monitor is useful. I can buy a finger oximeter but the problem with it is that it isn’t automatic. A watch automatically checking my levels is much more useful.

I’m noticing the same problem. I sometimes have trouble getting the timer to kick in. Other times, as noted in my article, it kicks in when it shouldn’t. It is all over the place.

It only seems like I write everything in TidBITS. :slight_smile: Julio Ojeda-Zapata wrote this piece.