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How to install the watchOS 9 public beta

You don’t have to wait to try watchOS 9

The screen is 20 percent larger on the Apple Watch Series 7
The Apple Watch Series 7 is one of the watches compatible with watchOS 9.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

After previewing its software roadmap at WWDC, Apple has released the public betas for iOS 16, iPad OS 16, macOS Ventura, and watchOS 9. If you’ve got a compatible Apple Watch and want to get a firsthand look at watchOS 9, here’s what to expect and how to get started. (Though you may have to wait for the release to fully roll out first.)

WatchOS 9 introduces a slew of new health and fitness features, as well as new ways to personalize the watch to your tastes. Some of the marquee features include advanced running metrics, new workout views, triathlete support, and medication reminders. That said, this isn’t the final version of watchOS 9. That will come later this fall when Apple releases the Series 8 (and possibly a new SE and a new rugged Apple Watch).

As always, installing beta software comes with certain risks. Some of your apps may be wonky, or the software itself can be buggy compared to a stable software release. It’s also possible that some advertised features aren’t fully available.

Before you get started, it’s a good idea to install public betas on a secondary Apple Watch if you have access to one. Once you download and install the watchOS 9 beta, there’s no reverting back to previous versions of watchOS. Plus, you’ll need to download the public beta of iOS 16 on the iPhone it’s paired to. That means you’ll have to commit to having beta software on not one but two devices.

If these risks are out of your comfort zone, it’s best to wait for the final, stable version of watchOS 9. But if you’re the adventurous type, here’s how to download the watchOS 9 beta.

  • Check that you have a compatible Apple Watch. watchOS 9 drops support for the Series 3, meaning you’ll need a Series 4, Series 5, Series 6, Watch SE, or Series 7.
  • Head to Apple’s beta software page in the mobile version of Safari
  • Log in with your Apple ID
  • Download the iOS 16 beta to your iPhone first. You can see how to do it here.
  • Once that’s done, tap the watchOS 9 tab
  • Select Enroll your Apple Watch in the Get Started section
  • Tap Download Profile and select Allow when prompted
  • You should be able to find the profile in the Watch app on your iPhone
  • Tap Install in the top right corner
  • Enter in your iPhone passcode and reboot your Apple Watch
  • Once that’s done, head back to the Watch app. Head to the My Watch tab, tap General and then Software Update
  • Tap Install
  • Reminder: to install the software, the watch must be on its charger, have at least 50 percent battery, and be in Wi-Fi range of your iPhone

And that’s all there is to it. Again, some features may not work as you expect right out of the gate. If that happens, try rebooting to see if that fixes any issues. Some issues may also be resolved with future beta releases, so be sure to update regularly.