Apple has officially released WatchOS 9, its latest major update for the Apple Watch operating system. As usual, the new wearable OS brings a handful of new watch faces, along with better sleep tracking, medication tracking, and improved workout options for runners.
While Apple’s latest Apple Watch models – the Series 8, second-generation Apple Watch SE, and Apple Watch Ultra – will all ship with WatchOS 9, you can also install the latest version on any Apple Watch released since 2018, including Apple Watch series. 4 or newer and the first generation Apple Watch SE. Unfortunately, the Apple Watch Series 3 drops off the list this year, but it’s also fair to say that four years of software updates is a pretty good run for a wearable.
Note that you will have to update your iPhone to iOS 16 before you can install WatchOS 9 on your Apple Watch, so make sure you’ve done that first.
Before installing a new version of WatchOS, it’s always a good idea to have a current backup of your Apple Watch. Although most of Apple’s public software releases are fairly stable, there’s always a chance things could go wrong during the update process.
Typically, your Apple Watch is automatically backed up to your iPhone in the background. This data is then included when your iPhone is backed up to iCloud, your Mac, or your PC. If you used Apple’s Family Setup for a family member without an iPhone, their Apple Watch will be backed up directly to their iCloud account whenever their Apple Watch is on a Wi-Fi network.
You can find more information and instructions on how to manage your Apple Watch backups in our article on how to back up your apple watch.
Once you’ve updated your iPhone to iOS 16 and backed up your Apple Watch, you’re ready to install WatchOS 9 on your device. This can be done either from the Watch app on your iPhone or directly on your Apple Watch. Here’s how to do it from your iPhone.
Step 1: Open the Watch app on your iPhone.
2nd step: If you’re installing WatchOS 9 for a family member’s Apple Watch that was set up using Family Setup, select All Watches in the upper left corner and choose the appropriate Apple Watch from the list.
Note that you cannot remotely update a family member’s Apple Watch. the other person’s cell phone should be near your iPhone.
Step 3: Select General.
Step 4: Picking out Software update. After a few seconds, WatchOS 9 should appear.
Step 5: Select Download and install to start the process.
Downloading WatchOS 9 to your Apple Watch, getting it ready, and installing it on your device can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more. You can download the update as you go about your day, but the Apple Watch will need to be on its charger and charged to at least 50% capacity before WatchOS 9 starts installing.
Note that once you start downloading WatchOS 9, you can close the Watch app and continue using your iPhone and Apple Watch as normal. The update will automatically install once your Apple Watch is placed on its charger and has enough battery capacity to get started.
If you are already using WatchOS 6 or later, you can install WatchOS 9 directly from your Apple Watch without using an iPhone. This is especially handy for people using Apple Watch Family Setup who don’t have their own iPhone.
Step 1: Make sure your Apple Watch is connected to a Wi-Fi network by swiping up on your watch face and looking for a blue Wi-Fi symbol.
Your Apple Watch should automatically connect to any Wi-Fi network your iPhone already knows about. However, if you are not connected to Wi-Fi, long press the Wireless to display a list of available Wi-Fi networks and select the name of the network you want to connect to.
2nd step: Open the Settings app on your Apple Watch.
Step 3: Select General.
Step 4: Select Software update.
Step 5: Select Install and follow the on-screen instructions to begin installing WatchOS 9.
You’ll need to place your Apple Watch on its charger and leave it there to complete the update process, and it must be at least 50% charged before WatchOS 9 begins installing.