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Apple watchOS wordmark 2017.svg
WatchOS 5 Siri.png
watchOS 5 on a Apple Watch Series 3
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 release5.2.1[1] (16U113)[2] (May 13, 2019; 10 days ago (2019-05-13)) [±]
Latest preview5.3 beta 1[3] (16U5526f)[4] (May 15, 2019; 8 days ago (2019-05-15)) [±]
Marketing targetSmartwatch
Update methodFOTA (via iPhone 5+ running iOS 8.2+)
LicenseProprietary software except for open-source components
Support status

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.

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]

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 With watchOS 3, Glances has been replaced by a redesigned Control Center - much like the one in iOS.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

Legend:   Obsolete   Discontinued   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; 20 months ago (2017-09-19)
  • Initial Release on Apple Watch Series 3 (Dual-Core)


11.0 15R654 October 4, 2017; 19 months ago (2017-10-04) Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) only


11.1 15R846 October 31, 2017; 18 months ago (2017-10-31)


11.2 15S102 December 5, 2017; 17 months ago (2017-12-05)


11.2 15S542 January 23, 2018; 16 months ago (2018-01-23)
  • This update includes improvements and bug fixes.


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


11.3 15T212 March 29, 2018; 13 months ago (2018-03-29)


11.4 15T567 May 29, 2018; 11 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; 10 months ago (2018-07-09) Final release supported on Apple Watch (1st generation)
  • This update includes improvements and bug fixes.

watchOS 5.x[edit]

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.[24] 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 12.0 16R364 September 17, 2018; 8 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; 7 months ago (2018-09-27)
  • Fixes an issue that caused a small number of users to see an increase in exercise minutes
  • Addresses an issue that caused some users to not receive Stand credit in the afternoon
  • Fixes an issue that could prevent Apple Watch from charging
5.1 12.1 16R591 October 30, 2018; 6 months ago (2018-10-30) Update withdrawn due to reports of Apple Watches no longer working after the update[25]
5.1.1 12.1 16R600 November 5, 2018; 6 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.
    • When contacting emergency services for a fall it will inform the responder that the Apple Watch has detected a fall and shares location if possible.
  • 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; 5 months ago (2018-12-06)
  • New ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4 (US and US territories only)
    • Allows you to take an electrocardiogram similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram
    • Can indicate whether your heart rhythm shows signs of atrial fibrillation—a serious form of irregular heart rhythm—or sinus rhythm, which means your heart is beating in a normal pattern
    • Saves ECG waveform, classification and any noted symptoms in a PDF on the Health app on iPhone to share with your doctor
    • Adds the ability to receive an alert if an irregular heart rhythm that appears to be atrial fibrillation is detected (US and US territories only)
  • Enables direct access to supported movie tickets, coupons, and rewards cards in Wallet when tapped to a contactless reader
  • Receive notifications and animated celebrations when you achieve daily maximum points in a day during an Activity competition
  • New Infograph complications for Mail, Maps, Messages, Find My Friends, Home, News, Phone, Remote
  • Manage your availability for Walkie-Talkie from Control Center
5.1.3 12.1.3 16S535 January 22, 2019; 4 months ago (2019-01-22) This update includes improvements and bug fixes.
5.2 12.2 16T225 March 27, 2019; 57 days ago (2019-03-27)
5.2.1 16U113 May 13, 2019; 10 days ago (2019-05-13)
5.3 beta 1 16U5526f May 15, 2019; 8 days ago (2019-05-15)

See also[edit]

Other operating systems developed by Apple Inc.

Competing platforms


  1. ^ Juli Clover (May 13, 2019). "Apple Releases watchOS 5.2.1 With ECG Functionality for Additional European Countries". MacRumors. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  2. ^ "watchOS 5.2.1 (16U113) - Releases - Apple Developer". Apple Developer. Apple Inc. May 13, 2019. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  3. ^ Juli Clover (May 15, 2019). "Apple Seeds First Beta of watchOS 5.3 to Developers". MacRumors. Retrieved May 15, 2019.
  4. ^ "watchOS 5.3 beta (16U5526f) - Releases - Apple Developer". Apple Developer. Apple Inc. May 15, 2019. Retrieved May 15, 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. ^ Phelan, David. "Apple Watch Secrets Revealed By Jony Ive, Health A Big Focus". Forbes. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  15. ^ Phelan, 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. ^ a b c d e f "watchOS 2.x information". Apple Inc. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  23. ^ "Apple has temporarily pulled the watchOS 3.1.1 update due to reports of it bricking devices". 9to5Mac. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
  24. ^
  25. ^ Kelion, Leo (October 31, 2018). "Apple Watch owners asked to return devices for repair after update glitch". BBC News. Retrieved October 31, 2018.

External links[edit]