Here’s how Apple Watch updates generally proceed: A new upgrade of the OS — in this case WatchOS 8 — is unveiled at WWDC, which this year takes place from June 7-11. Apple immediately implements a series of beta releases for developers, and subsequently for members of a public beta program. Then, around the end of September, the new WatchOS — hopefully perfected and glitch-free — is released to all Apple Watch owners.
We’re right at the start of that process right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get excited right, with some huge new health features on the way to your wrist. Here’s how you can try out the WatchOS 8 beta right now.
Wait for the final release of WatchOS 8
Take this as a fair warning to exercise caution. For years, Apple has made pre-release updates of its various operating systems available to developers as well as to select members of the public as beta testing platforms. These pre-release versions are typically bug-infested and not ready for general use, except for the most adventurous and those with an extra device on hand they don’t depend on. For all general users, we strongly advise to wait for the final released version of WatchOS 8. Once you install the upgrade, you can’t go back to the last version of WatchOS. If you’re still champing at the bit, here are some general instructions for installing the beta.
If you can’t wait …
Apple developers can find and install pre-released updates to WatchOS via the Apple Developer center, but civilians must enroll in the developer program to download interim builds — which costs $99 a year. To get access, you must install the WatchOS 8 beta certificate from the Developer website. Also, make sure you are running the developer beta for iOS 15 on your iPhone before trying to install WatchOS 8.
The following Apple Watch models will be able to install the new WatchOS 8:
How to install the WatchOS 8 beta certificate
The certificate tells the Watch app on your iPhone that WatchOS 8 is available. Once the Watch app detects the update, the process of installing it is the same as any other WatchOS update. If the beta doesn’t show up, reboot again, then do the following.
- Log into developer.apple.com on the iPhone that’s paired with your Apple Watch.
- Tap Discover > WatchOS > Download.
- Sign in with your Apple ID, if asked.
- Tap Install Profile next to WatchOS 8 Beta.
- Tap Allow on the prompt that seeks permission to install a profile.
- Tap Install.
- Type your password, if asked.
- Tap Install > Restart to reboot your watch.
Once your Apple Watch reboots, the installation process will look familiar.
How to install WatchOS 8 via your iPhone
Make sure your Apple Watch is charged to at least 50% and connect it to the charger.
- Connect your iPhone to Wi-Fi and launch the Apple Watch app.
- Tap the My Watch tab.
- Tap General > Software Update > Download and Install.
- Type in your iPhone password.
- Tap Agree to the terms and conditions.
- Tap Install on your iPhone and/or your Apple Watch.
The WatchOS update downloads and transfers to your Apple Watch, which will then reboot to apply the update. If the update fails at verification, try again. If it continues to fail, un-pair and re-pair your Apple Watch and try again.
How to install WatchOS 8 via your Apple Watch
Apple lets you update your Apple Watch through the Settings app directly on the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch must be connected to a charger for the update to install, and it won’t do so until your watch battery is at least 50%.
- Open Settings on your Apple Watch, either with Siri or your app list.
- Tap General > Software Update > Install.
- Tap OK.
- Open the Watch app on your iPhone.
- Agree to the Terms & Conditions while still on your iPhone.
- On your Apple Watch, tap Download & Install.