How to Download the WatchOS 9 Developer Beta Right Now

ByLance T. Lee

Jun 15, 2022

Apple has officially announced WatchOS 9, the next major update to the Apple Watch operating system. As usual, the new wearable OS brings a handful of new watch faces, better sleep tracking, medication tracking, and improved workout options for runners.

As with the rest of Apple’s operating system updates, WatchOS 9 doesn’t arrive until at least September, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your hands on it sooner if you’re feeling particularly adventurous. . Apple is offering an early beta for developers to prepare their apps for, and a public beta will likely arrive next month. Either way, if you’re ready to sign up for the appropriate beta program, you can take a peek now to see what’s new in WatchOS 9 on your own Apple Watch.

As with other early betas of major WatchOS releases, WatchOS 9 is currently only available to Apple developers. That means the only way to get the WatchOS 9 beta today is to join the Apple Developer Program for $99 per year. A public beta usually arrives in early July, when you can join Apple’s beta software program for free and get a more stable build. From then on, public betas will usually arrive a day or two after each developer beta.

Note that you must be running the iOS 16 beta on your iPhone before you can install the WatchOS 9 beta on your Apple Watch.

However, before you jump in, keep in mind that there is no turning back. Unlike iPhone and iPad, you cannot restore your Apple Watch to an older version of WatchOS. Apple recently added recovery mode in WatchOS 8.5, but it only works in some cases, and there’s no guarantee that it will let you downgrade to an older version of WatchOS. It is new and untested.

So if you’re going to dive into a WatchOS 9 beta, expect to be stuck with it. Don’t install it on an Apple Watch you rely on, as it may render your device unusable. If this happens, you will have no choice but to wait for the next beta version of WatchOS 9 and hope that it fixes the problem you are having.

Apple’s warranty doesn’t cover devices running beta software, so if you run into any issues, you won’t get any help from your local Genius Bar or Apple Authorized Service Provider. With the iPhone and iPad, you can at least restore to the latest public version, but that’s not an option with an Apple Watch.

Backup your Apple Watch

Before installing a WatchOS beta, it’s always a good idea to have a current backup of your Apple Watch. The beta software is still being tested, which makes things much more likely to go wrong.

You can find the instructions on how to do this in our article on how to back up your apple watch.

Even though you can’t restore an Apple Watch to an older version of WatchOS, a backup will come in handy if something goes wrong in WatchOS 9; at least you’ll be able to restore things to the way they were when you installed the update.


Create an Apple Developer Account

Getting the WatchOS 9 beta right now requires you to pay $99 to sign up for the Apple Developer Program. You can do this as an individual or an organization; however, individual registration is faster and easier because you don’t need to provide as many documents — your legal name and address should suffice. Note that this won’t give you immediate access to the WatchOS 9 beta; you will first need to wait for Apple to approve your request, which may take a few days.

Step 1: Using a web browser, visit the Apple Developer Program website.

2nd step: Select Start your registration.

Step 3: Sign in with your Apple ID and password.

Step 4: Accept the Apple Developer Agreement by checking the box and choosing the Submit button.

Step 5: Picking out Continue web registration proceed. If you prefer, you can follow the instructions to download the Apple Developer app and complete the registration process directly from your iPhone or iPad.

Step 6: On the next screen, fill in your personal information and select Continue.

Step 7: Select Individual/sole proprietor as an entity type.

Step 8: Read the Apple Developer Program License Agreement and accept it by checking the box and choosing the Continue button.

Step 9: If you want your developer subscription to automatically renew each year, select the option Check box in the Automatic renewal section.

Step 10: Proceed to the payment screen by choosing the To buy button.

Step 11: Enter your payment information and complete your purchase.

Banner of Apple's public beta program.


Sign up for Apple’s public beta program

The WatchOS 9 public beta won’t arrive for a few weeks, but you can make sure you’re ready when it does by signing up for the Apple Beta software program now. At this point, you’ll only see beta versions of the latest WatchOS 8 point releases, but you can come back and grab the WatchOS 9 public beta immediately when it lands.

Step 1: In a web browser, visit the Apple Beta Software Program website.

2nd step: choose blue Register button.

Step 3: On the next screen, enter your Apple ID and select the right-facing icon Arrow icon.

Step 4: When the password field appears, enter your Apple ID password and select it. Arrow icon.

Step 5: If prompted, enter the six-digit two-factor authentication code sent to your iPhone, then choose Trust if you want to skip the verification code prompt the next time you log in, or choose Do not trust whether you are using a shared or public browser.

Step 6: Read the Apple Beta Software Program Agreement and choose Accept to confirm your acceptance thereof.

Your Apple ID is now enrolled in the Apple Beta software program. You won’t be able to download the WatchOS 9 public beta yet, but when it’s released, you can come back here and sign in with your Apple ID to get the necessary configuration profile.

Three iPhones showing watchOS 9 developer beta profile installation steps.

Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Install the WatchOS 9 beta configuration profile

Once your Apple Developer Account is approved or the public beta arrives, you can configure your iPhone and Apple Watch to install the WatchOS 9 beta wirelessly by downloading the appropriate configuration profile. This tells your iPhone and Apple Watch that they are eligible to get the beta and where to get it from.

The steps to get the profile vary slightly depending on whether you’re a developer or a public beta tester, but once you’ve installed the profile, the beta installation process is the same.

Note that if you participated in a beta program for WatchOS 8 or earlier, you will still need to download a new configuration profile for WatchOS 9. Each major version of WatchOS uses a unique configuration profile, so if you only see a WatchOS 8.6 beta appears, this is because you are still using a WatchOS 8 beta profile. Adding the WatchOS 9 profile should replace the older version.

Step 1: Using Safari on your iPhone, navigate to the appropriate website:

2nd step: Download and install the configuration profile:

  • If you are an Apple developer, select the Install Profile button in the beta section of WatchOS 9.
  • If you are a public beta tester, make sure that Watch OS tab is selected in the horizontal menu bar, then scroll down and choose Register your Apple Watch from Begin section, then choose Download profile from the next page.
Three iPhones showing the steps to install the watchOS public beta profile.

Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Step 3: Picking out Allow to confirm that you want to download the configuration profile. The iPhone Watch app should open automatically.

Step 4: If you have multiple Apple Watches paired with your iPhone, choose the Apple Watch you want to install WatchOS 9 on.

Step 5: Select Install in the upper right corner to install the profile.

Step 6: When prompted, enter your iPhone passcode.

Step 7: Picking out Install in the upper right corner to confirm Apple’s beta agreement.

Step 8: When prompted, choose To restart to restart your Apple Watch.

Your iPhone and Apple Watch are now ready to download the latest WatchOS 9 beta.

Install WatchOS 9 beta

Once you’ve installed the WatchOS 9 configuration profile from the Apple Developer Program or Apple Beta software program (when available) and backed up your Apple Watch, you’re ready to install the beta version of WatchOS 9 on your device.

This is done from your iPhone, similar to installing any other WatchOS 9 software update. The configuration profile you installed earlier tells your iPhone to grab beta software instead of checking for a public version of WatchOS.

Step 1: Open the Watch app on your iPhone.

2nd step: Select General.

Step 3: Picking out Software update. After a few seconds, the WatchOS 9 beta should appear.

Step 4: Select Download and install to start the process.

Downloading the WatchOS 9 beta 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. As with normal WatchOS updates, your Apple Watch must be on its charger and charged to at least 50% capacity before the update begins installing.

Through the beta configuration profile, you will also get all future WatchOS 9 beta updates as they become available. Simply repeat the steps above to check for the latest beta version of the software and install it when available.

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