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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 release5.3.1[1] (16U600)[2] (August 26, 2019; 23 days ago (2019-08-26)) [±]
Latest preview6.0 GM seed[3] (17R575)[4] (September 11, 2019; 7 days ago (2019-09-11)) [±]
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 announced on June 3, 2019, and it is scheduled for release to the public on September 19, 2019.

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.[11] 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 With watchOS 3, Glances has been replaced by a redesigned Control Center - much like the one in iOS.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.[12]


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.[13] This was confirmed by Jony Ive, Apple's 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.[14] 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.[14]

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.[15] 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

Table of versions: watchOS 4.x - Apple Watch [25]

Limited support on the Apple Watch (1st generation)

watchOS version iOS version based on Build Release date Features


11.0 15R372 September 19, 2017; 23 months ago (2017-09-19)
  • Initial Release on Apple Watch Series 3 (Dual-Core)

New Watch faces

  • Siri face with updates based on time, location, and daily routines
  • Toy Story face with animated Toy Story characters
  • Kaleidoscope face with static images turning into patterns
  • Siri, News, Heart Rate, Now Playing, Messages Complications


  • Personalized notifications
  • Monthly challenges
  • Full Screen animations for achievements and rings closed
  • Workout metrics included in replies for Activity Sharing notifications


  • App completely redesigned
  • High Intensity Interval Training workout support
  • Multiple workouts in single session support
  • Auto sets for Pool Swim workouts
  • Synced music playlist support when starting workouts (Apple Watch 1st gen not supported)
  • Music controls right inside app
  • Do Not Disturb can be automatically turned on when starting workouts

Heart Rate

  • Graphs for all-day heart rate
  • New measurements including resting rate, walking average, workout average, workout high, recovery, and Breathe sessions
  • High Heart Rate notifications support (Apple Watch 1st gen not supported)
  • New Heart Rate data on iPhone including Heart Rate Variability and VO2 max


  • App completely redesigned
  • Multiple playlists sync support for local playback with Bluetooth headphones
  • Apple Music curated playlists sync support, includes Heavy Rotation, My New Music Mix, and My Favorites Mix


  • News app added
  • Flashlight and Safety Light can be toggled through Control Center
  • Recent used apps in Dock
  • App home screen in alphabetical view
  • Gestures support in Mail
  • Dialer pad right inside Phone app
  • Conflicts for Calendar invites can now be displayed
  • New language for Scribble: German
  • New timers: sub-minute and repeating
  • Recent locations and suggestions in Maps
  • Contacts in Smart Reply, includes location


11.0 15R654 October 4, 2017; 23 months ago (2017-10-04) Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) only
  • Resolved: Apple Watches joining unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks


11.1 15R846 October 31, 2017; 22 months ago (2017-10-31)
  • Music streaming support on Apple Music or iCloud Music Library (Apple Watch Series 3 only)
  • New Radio app: Beats 1 Live Radio, custom stations, and expert-curated stations (Apple Watch Series 3 only)
  • Find, discover, and play songs, albums, or albums using Siri
  • Fitness data syncing support for more accurate metrics on GymKit-enabled treadmills, ellipticals, stair steppers, and indoor bikes
  • Ability to disconnect from a Wi-Fi network right in Control Center (Apple Watch Series 3 Wi-Fi + Cellular model only)
  • Resolved: Heart Rate notifications erroneously delivered to users who have not enabled the feature
  • Resolved: Current Stand Hour indicator not correctly displayed
  • Resolved: Haptics not delivered for silent alarms
  • Resolved: Apple Watch (1st gen) not charging
  • Resolved: Sunrise / Sunset complication not appearing on watch faces
  • Mandarin Chinese now set as default dictation language in China


11.2 15S102 December 5, 2017; 21 months ago (2017-12-05)
  • Apple Pay Cash support (US only)
  • HomeKit sprinklers and faucet support
  • 3rd-party app Workouts: distance, average Speed, number of runs, elevation descended for downhill snow sports (Apple Watch Series 3 only)
  • Resolved: Crash when asking Siri about weather
  • Resolved: Scrolling disabled in Heart Rate app
  • Resolved: Simultaneous timers and alarms not being independently dismissed


11.2 15S542 January 23, 2018; 19 months ago (2018-01-23)
  • This update includes improvements and bug fixes.


11.2 15S600b February 19, 2018; 18 months ago (2018-02-19)
  • Fixes an issue where using certain character sequences could cause apps to crash.


11.3 15T212 March 29, 2018; 17 months ago (2018-03-29)
  • HomePod volume and playback control support
  • Regaining control of music on iPhone
  • Multiple orientation support on Nightstand mode
  • Activity rings progress and new songs to Apple Music mixes are now shown on Siri watch face
  • Resolved: Activity achievements incorrectly awarded
  • Resolved: Siri music commands not working for some audio


11.4 15T567 May 29, 2018; 15 months ago (2018-05-29)
  • Fixes an issue which caused Apple Watch to sometimes remain at the Apple Logo during startup for some users.


11.4.1 15U70 July 9, 2018; 14 months ago (2018-07-09) Final release supported on Apple Watch (1st generation)
  • This update includes improvements and bug fixes.

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.[26] This is the first version of watchOS to not support the first-generation Apple Watch.

Table of versions: watchOS 5.x - Apple Watch [27]
watchOS version iOS version based on Build Release date Features
5.0 12.0 16R364 September 17, 2018; 12 months ago (2018-09-17)

Initial Release on Apple Watch Series 4

  • Workout
    • Compete with Friends notifications
    • Auto detect workout and notification to turn off workout when done
    • New workouts: Yoga and Hiking
    • Pace Alerts and Cadence
  • Podcasts
    • New app for WatchOS
    • Stream your favorite podcasts on the go with Cellular Apple Watch
  • Walkie-Talkie
    • A new watchOS app that allows you to do FaceTime Audio calls similar to talking on a walkie-talkie
  • Siri
    • Watchface adds 3rd party access to Siri
    • Raise to speak. No longer need to say "Hey Siri" to activate
    • Integrates with shortcuts like "I am on my way home" and Siri will start playing your favorite playlist on the way home
  • Notifications
    • Grouped notifications
    • More actions you can do with Notifications
    • Can view webpages from iMessages
  • Do Not Disturb
    • Can schedule Do Not Disturb events when leaving a location or just for a specific time period
  • Student ID Cards
5.0.1 12.0 16R381/16R382 September 27, 2018; 11 months ago (2018-09-27) Improvements and bug fixes
5.1 12.1 16R591 October 30, 2018; 10 months ago (2018-10-30) Update withdrawn due to reports of Apple Watches no longer working after the update[28]
5.1.1 12.1 16R600 November 5, 2018; 10 months ago (2018-11-05)

Improvements and bug fixes

  • Addresses problem in WatchOS 5.1 update leading to non-functional Apple Watches.
  • Improvements to Series 4 automatic fall detection.
  • Resolves problem with completing setup of Walkie-Talkie.
  • Resolves problem with sending and receiving invitations for Walkie-Talkie.
  • Resolves missing earned Activity awards.
5.1.2 12.1.1 16S46 December 6, 2018; 9 months ago (2018-12-06)
  • New ECG app for Apple Watch Series 4 (US and US territories only)
  • Irregular rhythm notification (US and US territories only)
  • AFiB notification
  • Other improvements and bug fixes
5.1.3 12.1.3 16S535 January 22, 2019; 7 months ago (2019-01-22) This update includes improvements and bug fixes.
5.2 12.2 16T225 March 27, 2019; 5 months ago (2019-03-27)
  • ECG app extended to Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK
  • Irregular rhythm notification extended to countries listed above
  • 2nd gen AirPods support
  • Real-time text support for phone calls
5.2.1 12.3 16U113 May 13, 2019; 4 months ago (2019-05-13)
  • ECG app extended to Croatia, Czech, Iceland, Poland, and Slovakia
  • Irregular rhythm notification extended to countries listed above
  • New Pride watch face
  • Other bug fixes
5.3 12.4 16U569 July 22, 2019; 58 days ago (2019-07-22)
  • ECG app extended to Canada and Singapore
  • Irregular rhythm notification extended to countries listed above
  • Resolved: Security fix for Walkie-Talkie app that could enable the owner's iPhone to be eavesdropped[29]
5.3.1 12.4.1 16U600 August 26, 2019; 23 days ago (2019-08-26)

watchOS 6.0Edit

Apple announced a new version of watchOS that will contain features such as the App Store, a calculator with tip tools, an audiobooks app, and Apple's Voice Memos app.[30][31][32]

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 GM seed 13.0 17R575 September 11, 2019; 7 days ago (2019-09-11)

Initial Release on Apple Watch Series 5

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Juli Clover (August 26, 2019). "Apple Releases tvOS 12.4.1, watchOS 5.3.1, and a macOS Mojave 10.14.6 Supplemental Update". MacRumors. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  2. ^ "watchOS 5.3.1 (16U600) - Releases - Apple Developer". Apple Developer. Apple Inc. August 26, 2019. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  3. ^ Juli Clover (September 11, 2019). "Apple Seeds watchOS 6 Golden Master to Developers". MacRumors. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
  4. ^ "watchOS 6 GM seed (17R575) - Releases - Apple Developer". Apple Developer. Apple Inc. September 11, 2019. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
  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. 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". 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. ^ "How To Use and Organize Apple Watch Glances". iPhoneTricks. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  12. ^ "Apple Watch – Technology". Apple. Retrieved December 26, 2014.
  13. ^ "Apple Is Going After The Health Care Industry, Starting With Personal Health Data". CB Insights Research. September 20, 2017. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  14. ^ a b Phelan, David. "Apple Watch Secrets Revealed By Jony Ive, Health A Big Focus". Forbes. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  15. ^ "Apple Watch's heart rate sensor can detect diabetes, Cardiogram study finds". Macworld. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  16. ^ a b c "Apple Watch Firmware". Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  17. ^ "Apple Watch Timekeeping". Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  18. ^ "Apple Watch Built-in Apps". Retrieved June 29, 2015.
  19. ^ "watchOS 1.01 information". Apple Inc. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  20. ^ "About the security content of watch OS 1.0.1 - Apple Support". Apple. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
  21. ^ "Download watchOS 2.0 - 2.2.2 Information". Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  22. ^ a b c d e f "watchOS 2.x information". Apple Inc. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  23. ^ "Download watchOS 3.0 -3.2.3 Information". Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  24. ^ "Apple has temporarily pulled the watchOS 3.1.1 update due to reports of it bricking devices". 9to5Mac. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
  25. ^ "About watchOS 4 Updates". Apple Support. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  26. ^ Alfred Ng; Shara Tibken (September 12, 2018). "Apple Watch Series 4 starts at $399, packs larger displays and EKG sensor". CNET.
  27. ^ "About watchOS 5 Updates". Apple Support. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  28. ^ Kelion, Leo (October 31, 2018). "Apple Watch owners asked to return devices for repair after update glitch". BBC News. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  29. ^ Clover, Juli. "Apple's Walkie-Talkie Apple Watch App Works Again Following iOS 12.4 and watchOS 5.3 Release". Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  30. ^ Heather Kelly (June 3, 2019). "Everything Apple announced at WWDC, from Apple sign-in to dark mode". CNN.
  31. ^ "watchOS 6 advances health and fitness capabilities for Apple Watch" (Press release). Apple Inc. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  32. ^ "watchOS 6 Preview". Apple Inc. Retrieved June 6, 2019.

External linksEdit