Once a year Apple releases a major new version of watchOS, the operating system software that runs on all Apple Watch models; there are also smaller point upgrades from time to time in between. These updates are free, and can add new features to your watch, improve its speed and fix bugs and glitches.
At time of writing the latest version is watchOS 4. This adds new watch faces (including a 'Siri watch face' that tries to predict and present the most useful information at any given time), a new workout type and the ability to sync with gym equipment, improved Apple Music syncing and various interface tweaks.
If you'd like to install the latest version of watchOS on your Apple Watch, you've come to the right place. In this article we show how to update an Apple Watch.
Which Apple Watches can run the new version of watchOS?
At the moment this isn't something you need to worry about. The newest version, watchOS 4, works on every model of Apple Watch going back to the first gen, though you may see faster performance on the latest Apple Watch 3 models. The only restriction is that you need an iPhone 5s or later.
How to update your Apple Watch
A watchOS update mostly takes place on the watch's associated iPhone rather than on the watch itself. Grab your iPhone and open the Apple Watch app. Make sure you're in the My Watch tab along the bottom menu and then tap General.
There may well be a little orange '1' next to the Software Update option, indicating that an update is ready (there'll be a red '1' next to the My Watch tab too); however, you may have to get the app to check for updates before you see this. Either way, tap Software Update and the app will run a check, then show you the details of the new version of watchOS that's available to install.
Tap install and accept the terms & conditions.
In order to install this new version your iPhone and Apple Watch will need to be in Bluetooth range, the watch must be connected to its charger and on at least 50 percent power and, as with all OS updates, you need to be on Wi-Fi.
The update can take a while but do not be tempted to take the watch off its charger before it's finished. We have done this in the past and it has disrupted the update process so badly that we have had to throw ourselves on Apple's mercy and get the watch replaced.
Unlike iOS and macOS, Apple doesn't release public betas of watchOS, so the only people who can get hold of a version of watchOS ahead of its official launch are developers signed up to the developer beta programme. If that applies to you, and you want the bragging rights of trying out upcoming watch updates ahead of everyone else, try our article demonstrating how to install a watchOS beta.