How to Update Your Apple Watch to Watch OS 2.0.1 (Or Higher)

By Erik Wang on October 21st, 2015

The new version of Apple’s watch operating system, Watch OS 2.0.1 is now available to the public and, thanks to a host of new features and improvements, an important upgrade for any Apple Watch user. Read on as we show you how to update your watch to the most current OS.

Note: since we wrote this, Apple has released Watch OS 2.0.1 with more bugfixes, but you still use the same mechanism to update.

What’s New In Watch OS 2.0

In addition to various bug fixes and interface improvements the update to Watch OS 2.0 brings a host of new and improved features. You can read check out the official Apple page here for copious photos and details, but we’ll give you a crash course summary here.

There’s new time-lapse watch faces of popular metropolises and wilderness locations from around the world (such as London and Mack Lake) as well as support for personal photos and photo albums. The complication system (e.g. the important information you want right on your watch face like the weather or your calendar) now supports direct interfacing with applications so apps can push information to you via the complication system. The complication calendar system now supports time-line-like scrolling via the watch’s crown dial so you can quickly scroll forward and backward through your calendar. The new update includes “nightstand mode” wherein you can plug the watch in and lay it on its side to use it like an alarm clock.

While those are all great improvements the biggest improvement, by far and way, is the inclusion of a native app platform so that more applications can run directly on the watch (instead of just serving as a display for an app running on your phone). Running directly on the watch means faster response time and functionality in the absence of the companion iPhone.

There’s also a host of tweaks like improved Siri integration and improved Apple Pay functionality with support for additional cards. You can discover all that for yourself while playing with your freshly updated Apple Watch, so let’s get down to the process of updating it.

How to Update your Apple Watch

Before you sit down to update your Apple Watch to Watch OS 2.0 (or any newer version) you need to first check your iPhone is updated to iOS 9. You can check on your phone by navigating to Settings -> General -> About; if your device needs updating navigate to Settings -> General -> Software Update (or, alternatively, plug your device into a computer with iTunes installed and update it through iTunes). If you don’t update to iOS 9 then you cannot update to Watch OS 2.0 (and the Apple Watch app will simply report that your watch, at version 1.01, is up to date).

With your iPhone updated to iOS 9, launched the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and navigate to General -> Software Update. You’ll be given a summary of Watch OS 2.0 and a download link, as seen below.

The download is 512MB in size and can be downloaded in advance of the actual update operation. This means if you’re reading this without your Apple Watch on hand or you wish to update it later when you have more free time to focus on the project then you can download the update to your iPhone now but perform the actual update later. Regardless of when you plan on doing the upgrade you still need the update, however, so hit “Download and Install”. If you’re reading this article at the date of publication (right after the Watch OS 2.0 update launch) be prepared to wait. Although the download should only take a few minutes on a high-speed connection the demand on the Apple servers found us staring at a download timer with an estimated 5 hours remaining.

When you’re ready to apply the update you simply need to connect your Apple Watch to its charging cable and ensure it is in range of your iPhone, confirm on the watch itself you want the update, and the update will happen automatically with your Apple Watch rebooting several times during the upgrade process.

That’s all there is to it! Once you’ve updated your Apple Watch it’s time to start playing with all the new features like the time lapse watch faces, expanded friends menu, and of course the native apps and enhanced complications.


Have a pressing question about your Apple Watch or other wearable technology? Shoot us an email at ask@howtogeek.com and we’ll do our best to answer your question.

Erik Wang is a technology enthusiast who reviews gadgets when he's not playing Clash of Clans on his iPad.

  • Published 10/21/15
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