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Apple watchOS wordmark 2017.png
Developer Apple Inc.
Written in
OS family
Working state Current
Source model Closed (with open-source components)
Initial release April 24, 2015; 3 years ago (2015-04-24)
Latest release 4.3.2[1] (15U70)[2] (July 9, 2018; 57 days ago (2018-07-09)) [±]
Latest preview 5.0 beta 9[3] (16R5360a)[4] (August 24, 2018; 11 days ago (2018-08-24)) [±]
Marketing target Smartwatch
Update method FOTA (via iPhone 5+ running iOS 8.2+)
License Proprietary software except for open-source components
Official website
Support status

watchOS is the mobile 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.

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 announced on June 4, 2018, adding more third-party support and new workouts, along with the “Walkie-Talkie” feature.[9]

Interface overview[edit]

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 With watchOS 3, Glances has been replaced by a redesigned Control Center - much like the one in iOS.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


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 thinly veiled attempt to penetrate the lucrative healthcare and wellness industry, which many observers believe to hold huge growth opportunity for Apple.[12] 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.[13] 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 history[edit]

Legend:   Obsolete   Current   Beta

watchOS 1.x[edit]

watchOS 2.x[edit]

watchOS 3.x[edit]

watchOS 4.x[edit]

Table of versions: watchOS 4.x - Apple Watch
watchOS version iOS version based on Build Release date Features


11.0 15R372 September 19, 2017; 11 months ago (2017-09-19)
  • Initial Release on Apple Watch Series 3 (Dual-Core)

Watch Faces

  • New Siri face that intelligently updates information based on time of day, location, and daily routines
  • New animated Toy Story faces featuring Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie and more
  • New Kaleidoscope face that turns static images into symmetrical, intertwining patterns
  • New complications for Siri, News, Heart Rate, Now Playing, and Messages


  • Intelligent and personalized notifications to help you close your Activity rings each day
  • Monthly challenges based on the previous month's activity levels
  • New full screen animations to celebrate important milestones including earning an achievement and closing your rings
  • Replies to activity sharing notifications now include workout metrics


  • Redesigned app for quick starts and helpful workout type graphics
  • New High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout with custom motion and heart rate algorithms for more accurate calorie tracking
  • Support for multiple workout types in one workout session
    • Auto sets for Pool Swim workouts with distance for each stroke type and pace for each set, automatically adjusted for rest time
  • Ability to automatically start a synced music playlist when you start a workout on Apple Watch Series 1 and later
  • Access to music controls directly in the Workout app during a workout session
  • Option for Do Not Disturb to be automatically turned on during workouts

Heart Rate

  • New visual graph showing all-day heart rate
  • New heart rate measurements and visual graphs for resting rate (Apple Watch Series 1 and later), walking average, workout average and high, recovery time, and sessions in the Breathe app
  • Option to be notified if your heart rate rises above a specified threshold while you appeared to be inactive for a 10-minute period (Apple Watch Series 1 and later)
  • Current and historical details of heart rate data in the Health app on iPhone, including new Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and VO2 Max data types


  • Redesigned app for easy scrolling through album art
  • Ability to sync multiple playlists for local playback with bluetooth headphones
  • Automatically sync curated playlists from Apple Music including Heavy Rotation, My New Music Mix, and My Favorites Mix

Other features and improvements

  • News app with summaries of Top Stories and save for later to read on iPhone
  • Flashlight and Safety Light in Control Center
  • Vertical scrolling through recently used apps in the Dock
  • App home screen available in an alphabetical list view
  • Mail compose and swipe gestures
  • Dialer pad in the Phone app
  • Conflicts displayed in Calendar invites
  • Scribble support for German
  • Sub-minute and repeating timers
  • Suggested and recent locations in Maps
  • Contacts and locations in smart replies


11.0 15R654 October 4, 2017; 10 months ago (2017-10-04) Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) only

Fixes issues that were causing Apple Watch to join unauthenticated (captive) Wi-Fi networks, such as those often found in public places like coffee shops and hotels, which direct the user to a web page before the network can be accessed.


11.1 15R846 October 31, 2017; 9 months ago (2017-10-31)
  • Over 70 new emoji characters including new food types, animals, mythical creatures, clothing options, more expressive smiley faces, gender-neutral characters and more
  • Stream music on Apple Watch Series 3 with Apple Music or iCloud Music Library
  • Listen to live radio on Beats 1, custom stations and expert-curated stations with the new Radio app on Apple Watch Series 3
  • Use Siri to find, discover and play songs, playlists or albums
  • Sync fitness data with GymKit-enabled treadmills, ellipticals, stair steppers and indoor bikes for more accurate distance, pace and energy burn metrics
  • Ability to disconnect from a Wi-Fi network in Control Center for Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular)
  • Fixes an issue for Apple Watch Series 1 and later where Heart Rate notifications were delivered when the feature was not enabled
  • Fixes an issue where some users did not receive Stand Reminders
  • Resolves an issue where the current stand hour indicator did not appear for some users
  • Resolves an issue that caused haptics to not be delivered for silent alarms
  • Addresses an issue that prevented Apple Watch (1st generation) from charging for some users
  • Resolves an issue where the Sunrise and Sunset complication would sometimes not appear
  • Restores Mandarin as the default dictation language for China


11.2 15S102 December 5, 2017; 8 months ago (2017-12-05)
  • Send, request, and receive money from friends and family with Apple Pay Cash in Messages or by asking Siri (US only)
  • Adds support for HomeKit sprinklers and faucets in Home
  • Adds support for a new workout type for third-party apps to track distance, average speed, number of runs, and elevation descended for downhill snow sports with Apple Watch Series 3
  • Resolves an issue where Apple Watch would sometimes restart when asking Siri about the weather
  • Fixes an issue where scrolling was disabled in Heart Rate for some users
  • Resolves an issue that prevented simultaneous timers or alarms from being dismissed independently


11.2 15S542 January 23, 2018; 7 months ago (2018-01-23)
  • This update includes improvements and bug fixes.


11.2 15S600b February 19, 2018; 6 months ago (2018-02-19)
  • Fixes an issue where using certain character sequences could cause apps to crash.


11.3 15T212 March 29, 2018; 5 months ago (2018-03-29)
  • Control volume and playback on HomePod from your Apple Watch
  • Restores ability to control music on iPhone
  • Use any orientation for Nightstand charging mode
  • Siri watch face now shows progress towards closing Activity rings and when new songs are added to Apple Music mixes
  • Resolves an issue where Activity achievements were incorrectly awarded for some users
  • Fixes an issue where Siri music commands were not working for some audio devices


11.4 15T567 May 29, 2018; 3 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; 57 days ago (2018-07-09)
  • This update includes improvements and bug fixes.

watchOS 5.x[edit]

WatchOS 5 was first shown to the public at the San Joe WWDC developer conference held by Apple. It had an instant watch-to-watch walkie-talkie mode.[23] This is the first version of watchOS to not support the first generation Apple Watch.

Table of versions: watchOS 5.x - Apple Watch
watchOS version iOS version based on Build Release date Features
5.0 beta 8 12.0 developer beta 9 16R5357a August 20, 2018; 15 days ago (2018-08-20)

Watch Faces

  • Third-party content on Siri face


  • Activity Competitions
  • Auto-Workout Detection
  • Ability to track cadence (steps per minute), as well as a pace alarm for outdoor runs to help users keep up with their target pace
  • Added Yoga and Hiking workouts

Other features and improvements

  • Notifications are improved, with interactive controls available from within them for third-party apps.
  • Student ID Cards
  • Podcasts
  • Walkie-Talkie
  • Web-view for links

See also[edit]

Other operating systems developed by Apple Inc.

Other competing platforms


  1. ^ Juli Clover (July 9, 2018). "Apple Releases New watchOS 4.3.2 Software for Apple Watch". MacRumors. Retrieved July 9, 2018. 
  2. ^ "watchOS 4.3.2 (15U70) - Releases - Apple Developer". Apple Developer. Apple Inc. July 9, 2018. Retrieved July 9, 2018. 
  3. ^ Juli Clover (August 24, 2018). "Apple Seeds Ninth Beta of New watchOS 5 Operating System to Developers". MacRumors. Retrieved August 27, 2018. 
  4. ^ "watchOS 5 beta 9 (16R5360a) - Releases - Apple Developer". August 24, 2018. Retrieved August 27, 2018. 
  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. ^ "watchOS 5 adds powerful activity and communications features to Apple Watch". Apple Newsroom (Press release). Retrieved 2018-06-05. 
  10. ^ "How To Use and Organize Apple Watch Glances". iPhoneTricks. Retrieved April 27, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Apple Watch – Technology". Apple. Retrieved December 26, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Apple Is Going After The Health Care Industry, Starting With Personal Health Data". CB Insights Research. 2017-09-20. Retrieved 2018-05-28. 
  13. ^ Phelan, David. "Apple Watch Secrets Revealed By Jony Ive, Health A Big Focus". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-05-28. 
  14. ^ Phelan, 2018.
  15. ^ "Apple Watch's heart rate sensor can detect diabetes, Cardiogram study finds". Macworld. Retrieved 2018-05-28. 
  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. ^ a b c d e f "watchOS 2.x information". Apple Inc. Retrieved May 24, 2016. 
  22. ^ "Apple has temporarily pulled the watchOS 3.1.1 update due to reports of it bricking devices". 9to5Mac. Retrieved December 14, 2016. 
  23. ^

External links[edit]