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You can now restore your Apple Watch with an iPhone running iOS 15.4

Published Mar 15th, 2022 6:06PM EDT
Apple Watch Series 7 Keyboard
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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Following its March event, Apple rolled out a series of software updates for all of its major product lines on Monday. Among the updates were iOS 15.4 and watchOS 8.5, both of which brought a number of significant new features to iPhone and Apple Watch. We covered many of those features yesterday, but as per usual, more details have been trickling out ever since. For example, on Monday evening, 9to5Mac spotted an update to a support article on Apple’s website. After installing these updates, it will be possible to restore a malfunctioning Apple Watch with an iPhone. And we’ll tell you how to do it.

How to restore an Apple Watch with an iPhone

Apple Watch recovery screen.
Apple Watch recovery screen. Image source: Apple

If you’ve owned an Apple Watch for over a year, there is a chance that you’ve seen the red exclamation point at least once. Previously, Apple told users to set up a mail-in repair to fix any notable issues. But now, the support page has instructions for how to restore an Apple Watch at home. Here is what you should do if you Apple Watch displays an animation of a watch and iPhone being brought close together:

  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 your Apple Watch shows the red exclamation point instead, double click the side button first. After that, follow the steps above. If you aren’t able to recover your watch, you might have to contact Apple Support to set up a mail-in repair.

9to5Mac first reported on this feature back in 2020, shortly before the release of iOS 13.4. Back then, the feature was known as “OS Recovery” internally. Plus, it was also capable of restoring the firmware of another iPhone or iPad wirelessly as well. It’s unclear if we’ll see that functionality in a future update or if Apple scrapped it.

Other new features in watchOS 8.5

In addition to the new restore tool, watchOS 8.5 also includes these new features:

  • Ability to authorize Apple TV purchases and subscriptions
  • COVID-19 vaccination cards in Apple Wallet now support the EU Digital COVID Certificate format
  • Updates to irregular heart rhythm notifications designed to improve atrial fibrillation identification. Available in the United States, Chile, Hong Kong, South Africa, and many more regions where the feature is available. To determine your version, read this support document.
  • Audio hints in Fitness+ provide you with audio commentary of visually demonstrated moves during workouts.

watchOS 8.5 is available now as an over-the-air update. watchOS 8 is compatible with, Apple Watch Series 3, Apple Watch Series 4, Apple Watch Series 5, Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch Series 6, and Apple Watch Series 7. It also requires an iPhone 6s or later with iOS 15 or later.

More iPhone coverage: For more iPhone news, visit our iPhone 13 guide.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.

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