How to update the Apple Watch: Get watchOS 7 and overcome problems

A guide to downloading and installing the latest software
How to update your Apple Watch
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An Apple Watch update is your ticket to a better smartwatch experience, with each major watchOS version bringing new features.

The latest update is watchOS 7, which was released on 17 September 2020. It launched alongside the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE.

Apple also regularly releases smaller updates that fix bugs and add things like new complications and watch faces, but to take advantage you need to know how to install new Apple Watch software.

The smartwatch requires you to meet a few conditions before you're allowed to install a watchOS update. And, like with any bit of kit, sometimes there are problems with the Apple Watch not updating or getting stuck during the process.

Below, we'll take you through the basics of how to check for an Apple Watch update, how to force one and give you a couple of troubleshooting tips for if you're having, well, trouble.

What is the current version of the Apple Watch software?

The Apple Watch is currently running watchOS 7, which was released in September 2020.

You can read our full guide to what's in watchOS 7 but the key headlines are:

  • Native sleep tracking
  • New workout modes
  • Apple Fitness+
  • VO2 Max tracked in the all-new iOS 14 Fitness app
  • Handwashing timer
  • Watch face sharing

How to get the latest Apple Watch update

How to update your Apple Watch

Things to check

  • iPhone is running the latest version of iOS 14. To check, head to Settings > General > Software Update.
  • Apple Watch is sitting on the charger and is at least 50% charged.
  • iPhone is connected to Wi-Fi.
  • iPhone and Apple Watch are in close proximity to each other.

How to force an Apple Watch update

In truth, you shouldn't really need to look too hard to kickstart an Apple Watch update. When a new one is available, your device will notify you, and from there you'll be able to select 'Tap Update Tonight' within the notification – again, similar to your iPhone. If both of your devices are on charge, the update will take place automatically.

However, if you don't mind doing it during the day and instead want to download the update manually, follow the steps below.

1. Open up the Watch app on the iPhone, then tap the My Watch tab.
2. Tap through to General > Software update.
3. Enter your passcode (if you have one) and download the update.
4. Wait for the progress wheel to pop up on your Apple Watch.
5. Keep the Apple Watch on the charger until the update is finished. This could take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the update and your internet speed, so make sure to be patient.

Series 3 says not enough memory for watchOS 7

How to update your Apple Watch: Get the latest version of watchOS 7

If you have an Apple Watch Series 3, you might come across an issue that suggests the smartwatch doesn't have enough room to install the latest watchOS 7 update.

However, don't fret, as there is a solution.

The Apple Watch will get clogged up with temporary files, so you should just need to unpair and repair your smartwatch.

If you get the above screen then choose Exit and Repair Watch, and start over with your Apple Watch. It will install watchOS 7 and then you can re-pair your device.

Alternatively, you can unpair your Apple Watch manually in the Watch iPhone app, start over, and then run the software update.

What if your Apple Watch won't update

Apple Watch not updating

As we mentioned up top, sometimes the Apple Watch simply won't play ball.

And while you should generally obey Apple's warnings regarding the restart of your iPhone or Apple Watch, sometimes your device will be stuck for hours in the same spot clearly in need of rescuing.

If the update won't download, or it's having trouble porting over to the Apple Watch, try the following:

  • Restart your Apple Watch by holding the side button until the see Power Off appears. To turn it on again, press and hold the side button.
  • Restart your paired iPhone. Hold the Sleep/Wake button until the red slider appears, then drag it. To turn your iPhone on again, reverse the step.
  • From there, try to start the update again.
  • If it doesn't work, open the Watch app on the iPhone, head over to General > Usage > Software Update and then delete the update file. Then, try to download and install the latest version of watchOS again.