watchOS is the operating system of the Apple Watch, developed by Apple Inc.. It is based on the iOS operating system and has many similar features.[5] It was released on April 24, 2015, along with the Apple Watch, the only device that runs watchOS. Its API is called WatchKit.

Apple watchOS wordmark 2017.svg
WatchOS 6 screenshot.jpg
The homescreen of watchOS 6, with complications.
DeveloperApple Inc.
Written in
OS family
Working stateCurrent
Source modelClosed with open-source components
Initial releaseApril 24, 2015; 4 years ago (2015-04-24)
Latest release6.1.1[1] (17S449)[2] (December 10, 2019; 46 days ago (2019-12-10)) [±]
Latest preview6.1.2 beta 3[3] (17S5796a)[4] (January 22, 2020; 3 days ago (2020-01-22)) [±]
Marketing targetSmartwatch
Update methodFOTA (via iPhone 5+ running iOS 8.2+)
LicenseProprietary software except for open-source components
Support status

The second version, watchOS 2, included support for native third-party apps and other improvements, and was released on September 21, 2015.[6][7][8] The third version, watchOS 3, was released on September 13, 2016, emphasizing better performance and including new watch faces and stock apps. The fourth version, watchOS 4, was released on September 19, 2017. The fifth version, watchOS 5, was released on September 17, 2018,[9] adding more third-party support and new workouts, along with the “Walkie-Talkie” feature.[10] The sixth version, watchOS 6, was released on September 19, 2019.[11]

Interface overviewEdit

The home screen (rendered by and also known as "Carousel")[5] is composed of circular application icons, which can be zoomed in and out with the Digital Crown and dragged and launched by touching the display. Many of the apps are miniaturized, simplified versions of their iOS counterparts.

Prior to watchOS 3, Glances provided fast access to a summarized view of the most popular native or third-party applications used on Apple Watch.[12] The Glances view was opened with a swipe up gesture from the watch face screen. With watchOS 3, Glances has been replaced by a redesigned Control Center – much like the one in iOS. The friends menu, invoked with the side button, now acts as a dedicated dock for apps.

Different actions and options appear depending on if the user taps or deep presses which an Apple Watch detects with its pressure-sensitive (Force Touch) Display.[13]


For several years now, Apple has been developing its HealthKit product in a bid to change the way people interact with their devices. There is also a conscious attempt to penetrate the lucrative healthcare and wellness industry, which many observers believe to hold a huge growth opportunity for Apple.[14] This was confirmed by Jony Ive, Apple's former chief designer, in an interview. He said that health was a crucial element in the Apple Watch since the day of its inception and that the developmental trajectory of the hardware and the WatchOS were geared towards health-based capabilities.[15] Ive pointed out that that one of the primary apps that shipped with the first WatchOS allowed users to track and communicate as well as encourage them to move, exercise, and stand. He said:

Many of us have our phones with us all the time, but they aren't connected to you. Imagine having something this powerful with you at all times, and what opportunities that might present to the user. The opportunity is phenomenal. Particularly when [you] don't understand just where we are today in terms of technology and capability, but where we are headed.[15]

One of the most recent updates to the WatchOS included applications that do not only keep users active but also diagnose illnesses. For example, there is the app called DeepHeart, a deep learning network that can detect atrial fibrillation, hypertension, sleep apnea, and diabetes.[16] It taps the HealthKit platform to collect data, particularly those collected by the Apple Watch's heart sensor.

Version historyEdit

Legend:   Obsolete   Discontinued   Current   Beta

watchOS 1.xEdit

watchOS 2.xEdit

watchOS 3.xEdit

watchOS 4.xEdit

watchOS 5.xEdit

WatchOS 5 was first shown to the public at the San Jose WWDC developer conference held by Apple. It had an instant watch-to-watch Walkie-Talkie mode.[27] This is the first version of watchOS to not support the first-generation Apple Watch.

watchOS 6.xEdit

Apple announced a new version of watchOS that would contain features such as the App Store, a calculator with tip tools, an audiobooks app, noise level monitoring, and Apple's Voice Memos app.[34][35][36] It will also enable special games that can only be played on the Watch interface.

Table of versions: watchOS 6.x – Apple Watch

Limited support on the Apple Watch Series 1

watchOS version iOS version based on Build Release date Features
6.0 13.0 17R575 September 19, 2019; 4 months ago (2019-09-19)

Initial Release on Apple Watch Series 5

Not released for Apple Watch Series 1 and 2

Drops support for iPhone 5s and iPhone 6

  • Cycle Tracking
    • New Cycle Tracking app for keeping your menstrual cycle and fertility metrics
    • Notifications predicting a person's next menstrual cycle and fertile window.
  • Noise
    • New Noise app for detecting decibel levels in your surroundings. (Series 4 or later only)
    • Notifications can be pushed when it detects that the noise in your surrounding is too high.
  • Voice Memos
    • New Voice Memos app for recording and listening to voice memos directly on Apple Watch
    • Synced across all your devices as well.
  • Audiobooks
    • Now you can sync up to 5 hours of audiobooks to your Apple Watch
    • Stream them when your Watch is connected via Wi-Fi or cellular
  • App store
    • New built-in App Store where you can find and download apps for your Watch.
    • Supports Sign in with Apple
  • Activity Trends
    • Activity Trends in Activity app which includes all three activity rings, stand minutes, walking distance, walking pace, running pace, and VO2 max.
    • These are compared with data averaged over the last 90 days to the wearer's performance over the last year.
    • Tips are given if a single trend is going down.
  • Workout
    • New elevation metrics for Outdoor Run, Outdoor Walk, Outdoor Cycle, and Hiking workouts (Series 2 or later only)
    • Stopwatch app can now be viewed on your watch face during workouts
    • GymKit support for True and Woodway
  • Siri
    • Now you can identify songs directly on your Watch -- with the ability to add identified songs to your Apple Music library
    • New Siri Web Search -- shows up to 5 online results with the ability to view optimized Web content.
    • Siri integration into the redesigned Find People app
  • Watch Faces
    • New Faces
        • Numerals Mono and Numerals Duo (Available in Arabic, Arabic Indic, Roman numerals, and Devanagari)
        • Meridian -- black or white dial which fills the screen and includes 4 complications (Series 4 or later only)
        • Gradient -- Design dynamically changes as time passes. Available in full screen or circular with 5 complications (Series 4 or later only)
        • California -- Supports multiple numeral styles in Roman, Arabic, and Devanagari in fullscreen or circular (Series 4 or later only)
        • Solar Dial -- Depicts the Sun's path in circular form across a 24-hour dial (Series 4 or later only)
        • Modular Compact -- With many complications and the option to choose between analog or digital time (Series 4 or later only)
    • Tap to speak on all watch faces, supports up to 30 languages
    • Receive and customize time-keeping chimes (An alert on the hour, every half hour or every 15 minutes, either with haptics or customizable chimes)
    • Now you can reorder your Watch faces directly on your Watch
    • New complications
      • Audiobooks
      • Calculator
      • Cellular connectivity
      • Cycle Tracking
      • Noise
      • Wind
      • Rain
      • Voice memos
    • New monochrome complications for Infograph and Infograph Modular faces
  • Miscellaneous
    • New Calculator app with the ability to calculate tips and split checks
    • Support for custom stations in the Podcasts app
    • Smart Guidance and spoken navigation in Maps
    • Redesigned Now Playing app with Apple TV Remote controls
    • Personalized music picks in the For You tab
    • Support for automatic software updates
    • Redesigned Walkie-Talkie app
    • Redesigned Find People app which allows you to add friends, set notifications, and change settings directly on your Watch
    • Redesigned Reminders app with shared lists, subtasks, and the ability to add new reminders
    • More settings for Accessibility, Workout, and Health
6.0.1 13.1 17R604/17R605 September 30, 2019; 3 months ago (2019-09-30) Not released for Apple Watch Series 1 and 2

Improvements and bug fixes

  • Resolves an issue where the Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse watch faces do not speak time.
  • Addresses an issue where the calendar complication may not display events.
  • Fixes a bug that could result in a loss of display calibration data.
6.1 13.2 17S84 October 29, 2019; 2 months ago (2019-10-29) First version of watchOS 6.x to support Apple Watch Series 1 and 2
  • Support for AirPods Pro
  • Other improvements and bug fixes
  • Brings watchOS 6 to Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2
6.1.1 13.3 17S449 December 10, 2019; 46 days ago (2019-12-10)
  • Important security updates
6.1.2 beta 3 17S5796a January 22, 2020; 3 days ago (2020-01-22)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Juli Clover (December 10, 2019). "Apple Releases watchOS 6.1.1 With Bug Fixes". MacRumors. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  2. ^ "watchOS 6.1.1 (17S449) - Releases - Apple Developer". Apple Developer. Apple Inc. December 10, 2019. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  3. ^ Juli Clover (January 22, 2020). "Apple Seeds Third Beta of watchOS 6.1.2 to Developers". MacRumors. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  4. ^ "watchOS 6.1.2 beta 3 (17S5796a) - Releases - Apple Developer". Apple Developer. Apple Inc. January 22, 2020. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Apple Watch runs 'most' of iOS 8.2, may use A5-equivalent processor". AppleInsider. Retrieved April 25, 2015.
  6. ^ "Apple announces watchOS 2 with third-party Apple Watch apps, new Timepieces, video playback, much more". 9to5Mac. June 8, 2015. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  7. ^ "watchOS 2 final version released for Apple Watch users". Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  8. ^ "Apple's watch OS 2 is now live following bug delay". CNET. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  9. ^ Juli Clover (September 17, 2018). "Apple Launches watchOS 5 With Walkie-Talkie, Apple Podcasts, Siri Shortcuts, New Watch Faces, Raise to Speak and More". MacRumors. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  10. ^ "watchOS 5 adds powerful activity and communications features to Apple Watch". Apple Newsroom (Press release). Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  11. ^ Juli Clover (September 19, 2019). "Apple Releases watchOS 6 With Dedicated App Store, New Watch Faces, Noise Monitoring App and More". MacRumors. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  12. ^ "How To Use and Organize Apple Watch Glances". iPhoneTricks. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  13. ^ "Apple Watch – Technology". Apple. Retrieved December 26, 2014.
  14. ^ "Apple Is Going After The Health Care Industry, Starting With Personal Health Data". CB Insights Research. September 20, 2017. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  15. ^ a b Phelan, David. "Apple Watch Secrets Revealed By Jony Ive, Health A Big Focus". Forbes. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  16. ^ "Apple Watch's heart rate sensor can detect diabetes, Cardiogram study finds". Macworld. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  17. ^ a b c "Apple Watch Firmware". Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  18. ^ "Apple Watch Timekeeping". Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  19. ^ "Apple Watch Built-in Apps". Retrieved June 29, 2015.
  20. ^ "watchOS 1.01 information". Apple Inc. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  21. ^ "About the security content of watch OS 1.0.1 – Apple Support". Apple. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
  22. ^ "Download watchOS 2.0 – 2.2.2 Information". Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  23. ^ a b c d e f "watchOS 2.x information". Apple Inc. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  24. ^ "Download watchOS 3.0 – 3.2.3 Information". Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  25. ^ "Apple has temporarily pulled the watchOS 3.1.1 update due to reports of it bricking devices". 9to5Mac. December 14, 2016. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
  26. ^ "About watchOS 4 Updates". Apple Support. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  27. ^ Alfred Ng; Shara Tibken (September 12, 2018). "Apple Watch Series 4 starts at $399, packs larger displays and EKG sensor". CNET.
  28. ^ "About watchOS 5 Updates". Apple Support. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  29. ^ Kelion, Leo (October 31, 2018). "Apple Watch owners asked to return devices for repair after update glitch". BBC News. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  30. ^ Clover, Juli. "Apple's Walkie-Talkie Apple Watch App Works Again Following iOS 12.4 and watchOS 5.3 Release". Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  31. ^ "About the security content of watchOS 5.3.2". Apple Inc.
  32. ^ "watchOS 5.3.4 (16U627) - Releases - Apple Developer". Apple Developer. Apple Inc. December 10, 2019. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  33. ^ "About the security content of watchOS 5.3.4". Apple Inc.
  34. ^ Heather Kelly (June 3, 2019). "Everything Apple announced at WWDC, from Apple sign-in to dark mode". CNN.
  35. ^ "watchOS 6 advances health and fitness capabilities for Apple Watch" (Press release). Apple Inc. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  36. ^ "watchOS 6 Preview". Apple Inc. Retrieved June 6, 2019.

External linksEdit