Apple showed off watchOS 7 at its WWDC keynote this week. The next version of the OS powering the Apple Watch has a ton of new features including new watch faces, new complication abilities, a new sleep app, cycling maps, even a handwashing app, and much more.
It really looks like watchOS 7 is going to be the best watchOS update yet.
watchOS 7 will support all Apple Watch Series 3 models and higher. The bad news is that it doesn’t ship for everyone until the fall. But that doesn’t mean YOU necessarily need to wait until September to get your hands on watchOS 7. Here’s how…
Become A Registered Developer
All registered developers got access to the first beta of watchOS 7 the day it was announced. And you can too—provided, again, that you are a registered developer. Being a registered developer means you can create watchOS apps and distribute them on the App Store. It also means you get access to pre-release betas before everyone else so you can test your apps on new versions of the operating system.
To become a registered developer you need to enroll in the Apple Developer Program. To register you’ll need an Apple ID and also pay a $99 fee that renews annually. Once you are registered you’ll be able to download the latest betas of watchOS 7 and install them on your Apple Watches.
Become An Official Public Beta Tester
In years past Apple got wise to the fact that many illicit developers were selling beta slots of the new iOS to users who couldn’t wait to test it out. So a few years ago Apple decided to throw a spanner in those works by releasing a public beta of iOS 9. And they’ve continued that public beta since for iOS and iPadOS. However, this year they are adding a public beta of watchOS for the first time ever, too.
How is the public beta of watchOS 7 different than the developer beta? It’s mostly the same, but it’s usually more stable. That’s because developers get access to the latest beta a few weeks ahead of time and they can pinpoint the major bugs (like battery drain or crashes) that a developer will tolerate, but a public beta tester might not. Apple then takes these bug reports and improves the stability of the developer beta and releases it as a public beta.
In order to get access to the public watchOS 7 beta, you’ll need to register as an Apple Beta Tester. Registration is free. Once you’re given access, you’ll be able to download all the public betas of watchOS 7. Do note you’ll also need to be running the public beta of iOS 14 on your iPhone to uses the watchOS 7 beta on your Apple Watch.
A Word of Warning: Beta is Beta
Though Apple is making the watchOS 7 beta available in a number of ways this year, keep in mind that watchOS 7 will not be a stable release until it ships to the public in the fall. Running betas could severely affect your devices and your files—in other words, the software is a “beta” for a reason.
Betas are naturally full of bugs. That’s WHY they’re betas. The point of beta testing is to find the bugs and squash them. And betas can have some nasty bugs that can potentially cripple your Apple Watch. And Apple’s warranties generally do not cover beta software–even if you’re a legitimate developer.
That means if a beta bricks your Apple Watch, you could be out of luck. Time to buy a new one. So proceed down this road with extreme caution and only travel it if you are completely fine with something going disastrously wrong with your Apple Watch.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.