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How to install the watchOS 8 public beta

At your own risk, of course

The Apple Watch Series 6, in Product Red
The Apple Watch Series 6, in Product Red color.
Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Apple has now released public betas for iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, tvOS 15, and macOS Monterey. We’ve covered how to get the iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 betas here — follow along below if you’re interested in testing out the latest Apple Watch software, too.

WatchOS 8 is expected to get a full, stable release this fall. It brings a handful of new features, including more workout types in the Fitness app, a new Mindfulness app, a watchface that works with Portrait Mode photos taken on an iPhone, as well as improved weather and smart home apps, among other things. It’s compatible with the Series 3, Series 4, Series 5, Series 6, and SE Apple Watch models.

Before we go through how to install the beta, there are some important things you should know:

  1. Beta software is often buggy and you might have issues with third-party apps. Some bugs might include poor performance and bad battery life, an area the Apple Watch isn’t great at even with stable software. It’s best to try it out on a secondary watch if you have one (which, admittedly, most people don’t).
  2. Unlike the iOS and iPadOS betas, there’s no way to revert to the stable version of watchOS 7 if you install the watchOS 8 beta. If it’s buggy and not functioning well for you, you’re stuck with it until Apple releases the stable version in the fall. That’s probably enough of a reason to stay away from this one, particularly if you rely on your Apple Watch.

If those don’t scare you away, here’s how to install the watchOS 8 beta on an Apple Watch:

  • Before you can install the watchOS 8 beta, you must have the iOS 15 beta installed on your iPhone. Go follow these directions and come back here when you’re done.
  • Go to Apple’s beta software page in Safari on your iPhone.
  • Log in with your Apple ID.
  • Scroll down and tap the “Get Started” link.
  • Tap the watchOS 8 tab at the top of the page.
  • Select “enroll your Apple Watch” in the Get Started section of the watchOS 8 tab.
  • Scroll down and tap the “Download Profile” button and then select “allow” on the pop-up.
  • Install the beta profile in the Watch app on your iPhone, which should automatically open once the profile is downloaded.
  • You will be prompted to reboot your Apple Watch. Tap the button to allow this.
  • Once the Apple Watch is rebooted, go to the Watch app, tap “General,” tap “Software Update.”
  • You should see the watchOS 8 beta ready to be installed on your watch. Tap “Install” to proceed.
  • The software update will download to your phone and then transfer to the watch. To complete installation, the watch needs to be on its charger, within range of your iPhone, connected to Wi-Fi, and with 50 percent or more charge. If all of those criteria are not met, it will pause the installation until the watch is ready.

Once the beta software is installed, the watch will reboot itself and you’ll be all set to use it. In our experience, some complications and third-party apps did not function until they were opened manually on the watch or the watch was rebooted a second time.