iOS 15.4 and watchOS 8.5 Allow You to Restore an Apple Watch Using an iPhone

Apple today published a new support document indicating that iOS 15.4 and watchOS 8.5 allow an Apple Watch to be restored with a nearby iPhone.

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The support document states that if an Apple Watch running watchOS 8.5 or later displays an animation showing an Apple Watch and iPhone being brought close together, customers can follow the steps below to initiate the restore process:

1. Make sure that an iPhone is nearby. The iPhone needs to have iOS 15.4 or later, it needs to be connected to Wi-Fi with Bluetooth turned on, and it needs to be unlocked.
2. Put your Apple Watch on its charger.
3. Double-click the side button (the button below the circular Digital Crown) on your Apple Watch.
4. Follow the steps that appear on the iPhone.

If the steps fail to work, Apple advises customers to check their Wi-Fi connection. Specifically, Apple says to try using a 2.4GHz network instead of 5GHz, and to avoid 802.1X or captive Wi-Fi networks, such as those in hotel rooms.

In an internal memo to Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers, obtained by MacRumors, Apple said this feature allows customers and technicians to restore watchOS on some Apple Watch models without the device having to be mailed to an Apple Repair Center. The memo did not specify which Apple Watch models support the feature.

Apple's support document said customers might see a red exclamation point on their Apple Watch instead. If this happens, Apple says to double-press the side button and then follow the steps outlined above. If the Apple Watch continues to display a red exclamation point, customers are advised to contact Apple Support to set up a mail-in repair.

iOS 15.4 and watchOS 8.5 were released today alongside iPadOS 15.4, macOS 12.3, tvOS 15.4, and HomePod software version 15.4.

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Series 9
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)
Related Forum: iOS 15

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Top Rated Comments

BigBlur Avatar
30 months ago

It's a nice new option to have. Always been a pain to start fresh with the Apple Watch when switching to a new one. Takes forever.
We could always restore from a backup when getting a new watch. This is about restoring the OS!

On that note, could this be the beginning of the rumored port-less iPhone? Depending on how well it works for the watch, perhaps we'll soon be able to restore iOS on our iPhones wirelessly from an iPad or Mac...
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Macintosh TV Avatar
30 months ago
It's a nice new option to have. Always been a pain to start fresh with the Apple Watch when switching to a new one. Takes forever.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kylo83 Avatar
30 months ago
Does that mean if we put a beta on it and wanna roll back we now can?
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
anshuvorty Avatar
30 months ago
The watch....slowly becoming independent from the iPhone...
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
yoheywut Avatar
30 months ago

This may be a stupid question, but how is this any different from the existing method of restoring a Watch?

It’s been more than a couple years since I’ve had any OS-level problems with my Watch, so I honestly don’t recall the setup process.
I believe this is taking about Restoring the actual OS of the watch. Previously they would be mailed in and Apple would restore them somehow, perhaps with dedicated hardware or using that small service port. I had a nasty bug with my Apple Watch S4 that had a bit of beta software bugs left over from running the beta. All I could do was Erase and re-set up the watch but this didn't actually erase/restore the OS, just erased the contents and reloaded it. Thus I was stuck with this bug preventing me from updating my software for a few months.

Now with the ability to restore the watch OS, I could start fresh with a new copy of the OS.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BugeyeSTI Avatar
30 months ago
Never had to restore my watch yet but nice feature to speed up the process if necessary..
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)