UPDATED: How to download watchOS 3 and update your Apple Watch


Apple’s watchOS 3 update brings important functionality to the Apple Watch. So much in fact, that you might mistake it for an Apple Watch Series 2 or Series 1.

There are a lot of changes here, but the software upgrade isn’t as straightforward as today’s simultaneous iOS 10 update. It takes a few more steps (and two devices) to download watchOS 3.

To guide you through the watchOS 3 update process, we decided to throw together a quick step-by-step walkthrough.

Ready your Apple Watch and iPhone

Like a lot of Apple Watch functionality, you need your iPhone to do anything meaningful here. Have them connected to each other through Bluetooth and connect your phone to Wi-Fi.

watchos 3 update

Charge your Apple Watch to 50%. That’s also a requirement to begin installing watchOS 3. 49% or below won’t cut it if you want the next version of this operating system.

Get this: even when your Watch is on the inductive charger, the smartwatch software update will hang in between the download and install steps until it gets what it wants.

Begin downloading watchOS 3

To initiate the all-important watchOS 3 download, you’ll need to head into the Watch app on iOS 10, or iOS 9.3 if you haven’t updated to the new phone and tablet operating system yet.

watchos 3 update

From here, go to the Watch app > General > Software Update and tap Download and Install at the bottom. You’ll be prompted to enter your iPhone passcode.

The update is 45.6MB, and your 4GB Apple Watch should have more than enough free space.

It’ll take roughly 10 minutes for the download to complete, depending on how taxed Apple’s servers are. Expect it to take longer during peak hours.

Install watchOS 3

You’re almost there. The watchOS 3 update will install once the file has been downloaded via your iPhone and the Apple Watch battery is at a 50% charge.

watchos 3 update

Don’t worry if your Apple Watch restarts and hangs with the white Apple logo for another 10 minutes. It’s a long, tense wait, but it will come back to life with the new update. Like a butterfly.

From here, you can start enjoying watchOS 3 right away. It comes with a new Dock that can launch up to ten apps instantly, additional watch faces, new activity and workout settings and an annoying, but secretly helpful Breathe reminder. Sometimes in our gadget-obsessed lives we forget to do that.


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