Explained: How to install watchOS 3 on your Apple Watch

We take you step-by-step through the process
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Apple unveiled watchOS 3, its forthcoming operating system for the Apple Watch, at WWDC 2016. And while the Apple Watch Series 2 makes its way to the store, the beta for watchOS 3 is here and anyone can download to try out the latest features.

There are some caveats. Firstly, it's beta for a reason, so you have to accept the possibility that your Apple Watch could become less stable, crash or worse. And you'll need to sort that out yourself. Secondly, if you play it by the book, you'll need access to an Apple developer account, and that costs $99 a year. Still interested? Read on for more.

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1. Head to the Apple Developer page

First head to developer.apple.com. There are guides online to circumvent Apple's requirement for a developer account by finding the files mentioned below. We're doing it by the book here, but check out this YouTube video if you want to go rogue.

2. Sign up for a developer account

Explained: How to install watchOS 3 on your Apple Watch

As we mentioned above you'll need to have your account approved by Apple. Click Account at the top and then sign in using your Apple ID. At this point you'll need to register, pay your $99 and get approved – which can take 48 hours. Apple will notify you when you're fully approved.

3. Prep your devices

You're likely to have some time to kill now, so time to prep your devices. First, make sure your iPhone and Apple Watch are both fully up to date with current versions of Apple software. It would also be a great time to back-up your iPhone in iTunes, too. Lastly, make sure your Apple Watch and iPhone are fully paired up and working.

4. Download iOS 10

You're going to need to get iOS 10 developer preview for your iPhone before you can grab watchOS 3. But before you get over-excited, you're going to need to approve your device to download beta releases.

5. Enable your device

Go to Account > Certificates, Identifiers and Profiles. Click the Certificates, Apps and Profiles tab and choose All devices. Click the plus icon and then write in a name. Now you're going to have to find your UDID number. Plug in your iPhone and head off to iTunes. Click the iPhone icon and go to Summary. Click on the serial number and it will magically turn into the UDID number. Option + click the number to copy it to the clipboard and head back to your Developer account page to paste it in.

6. Grab the config files

Now it's time to grab the files that will magically enable you to download the relevant betas on your devices. In on the Apple developer page hit the Download button to get a list of files. Head to iOS 10 and download the Configuration Profile (8.69kb) Now go to watchOS 3 beta and grab that config file (5.97kb).

7. Install iOS 10

Explained: How to install watchOS 3 on your Apple Watch

The easiest way to install this file is to email yourself the config file to an address you use in Apple's native iOS Mail app. Don't sent to Gmail as it won't work. When you receive the email on your iPhone just tap the file icon to install it. Your phone will restart. Now head to Settings > General > Software update and you should see an option to upgrade to iOS 10. Start the process and break for a cup of tea.

8. Install watchOS 3

Now it's time to install watchOS 3. Repeat the step above, attaching the watchOS config file to the email. When it's received just tap the icon and this time choose to install the software on your Apple Watch. You'll then be prompted to unlock your Apple Watch using the passcode, and the installation will start. Ours took over an hour so be patient. You'll now have watchOS 3 to play with.

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How we test

James Stables


James is the co-founder of Wareable, and he has been a technology journalist for 15 years.

He started his career at Future Publishing, James became the features editor of T3 Magazine and T3.com and was a regular contributor to TechRadar – before leaving Future Publishing to found Wareable in 2014.

James has been at the helm of Wareable since 2014 and has become one of the leading experts in wearable technologies globally. He has reviewed, tested, and covered pretty much every wearable on the market, and is passionate about the evolving industry, and wearables helping people achieve healthier and happier lives.

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