Apple Watch Gets Over-the-Air Software Update Mechanism, But iPhone Still Required For Now

Apple appears to be in the process of decoupling the iPhone from the watchOS update process on the Apple Watch.

apple watch software update
In the first beta of watchOS 6, the Apple Watch gained its own over-the-air software update mechanism under Settings > General > Software Update. As on the ‌iPhone‌, the mechanism checks for any available watchOS update and, if prompted, downloads the update directly to the Apple Watch.

The mechanism became functional on Monday when Apple seeded the second beta of watchOS 6 to developers.

As noted by Jeremy Horwitz, however, users still must review and accept the watchOS terms and conditions using an ‌iPhone‌. Hopefully this is a temporary step that Apple removes before watchOS 6 is publicly released in September.


Updating an Apple Watch's software previously required using the Apple Watch app on an ‌iPhone‌ for the entire process.

This change is in line with the Apple Watch gradually becoming more independent from the ‌iPhone‌. In 2017, for example, Apple Watch Series 3 models launched with cellular capabilities for making phone calls and more without an ‌iPhone‌. And in watchOS 6, the Apple Watch received its own on-wrist App Store.

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Series 9
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

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Top Rated Comments

8012R3 Avatar
66 months ago
Hopefully the day where the Apple Watch is a stand alone device is not too far away! :-)
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ThunderSkunk Avatar
66 months ago
But not an iPad, even one with a cellular connection.
Why.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacFan23 Avatar
66 months ago
But not an iPad, even one with a cellular connection.
Why.
iPad does have OTA updates.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
melgross Avatar
66 months ago
For some time, people have said that Apple will never do this, because tying the watch to the phone was a way to sell more phones. Others have claimed that Apple will never release the watch to Android because of this tie, which includes(d) security ties.

But what I see happening is that it’s quite possible that in September, in conjunction with the new iPhone, Watch and possibly iPad releases, Apple will stun everyone saying that in order to get the advanced health benefits to the widest range of people, the Watch will be available to those not having an iPhone.

Everything they’ve been doing over the past year, and with WatchOS 6 points in that direction. It makes a lot of sense.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mannyvel Avatar
66 months ago
What he's saying is "why can't i use my apple watch with an ipad?"

The answer of course is simple: there's no health app on an ipad. Which leads to the next question: why no health app on an ipad?

From an implementation point of view the ipad is just as secure as an iphone, since it can do apple pay...but maybe apple pay for web isn't enough?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Braderunner Avatar
66 months ago
I hope the day comes, when the Watch can download an update directly, and not have to be on the charger to install. :rolleyes:
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)