watchOS 6 brings numerous improvements in performance and reliability along with new features to the Apple Watch. Upgrading Apple Watch to watchOS 6 is usually a breeze except when the upgrade process does not seem to cooperate. Here are a few tips to help you fix issues if you are unable to install or upgrade to watchOS 6.
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- 13 small but incredibly useful changes and features in iOS 13
Follow these quick tips to get the latest watchOS on your Apple Watch
- If you use a passcode on your Apple Watch, enter the passcode first to unlock your watch and then try to update your watchOS
- Alternatively, temporarily turn off your passcode before you update and then turn it back on once the update is complete
- Place both your iPhone and your Apple Watch on their respective chargers
- Turn on Bluetooth
- Turn off AirPlane mode, if enabled
Apple Watch models compatible with watchOS 6
Before you start troubleshooting install / update issues on your Apple Watch, it is important to check out the compatibility.
According to Apple, watchOS 6 is compatible with Apple Watch Series 1,2,3, and 4, however you will need an iPhone 6s or later running iOS 13 before you can install or update your Apple Watch to watchOS 6.
Here is how you can find out the model number and associated details for your Apple Watch.
Check Connectivity issues before updating to watch OS 6
Poor connection issues on your Apple Watch or iPhone can often lead to install errors, when updating to the latest watchOS. Here is a list of items that you should check:
- Make sure to charge your Apple Watch completely before attempting to install watchOS 6. If you are running on Power Reserve mode, watchOS 6 install may not complete/work.
- Keep your iPhone running iOS 13 fully charged and close to the Apple Watch when attempting to install watchOS 6
- Double-check to make sure your iPhone’s Bluetooth is ON and it is connected to your Apple Watch ( On your iPhone, Settings > BlueTooth > My Devices )
- Check and confirm your iPhone is connected to a strong Wi-Fi Network (Settings > Wi-Fi on your iPhone)
- Check and make sure your Apple Watch is not on AirPlane mode.
- Make sure your devices are not impacted by any wireless interference as explained in this Apple’s white paper.
Test The Connection Between iPhone and Apple Watch
Check the connection between your iPhone and Apple Watch when you are ready to install watchOS 6.
- On your Apple Watch, swipe up to access the control center
- Tap on the ‘Ping’ icon (a small phone icon surrounded by a signal)
- If your iPhone chimes, it confirms that your Bluetooth connections between the devices are solid.
Now that the basic conditions for watchOS 6 install / update have been met, lets explore some of the common issues that occur when trying to update your Apple Watch to watchOS 6.
Cannot find watchOS 6 update? Check out these pointers
The Apple Watch update process uses the Watch app on your iPhone. In order to install watchOS 6,
- Open Apple Watch app on your iPhone
- Tap on My Watch at the bottom
- Tap on General > Software Update
- Locate the watchOS 6 update
- Download and install the update
If you unable to locate watchOS 6, on this screen, here are some reasons why this could be happening.
Check and see if watchOS 6 has been made available in your region. Sometimes it takes a few more hours or days for the new update to be made available in all the regions.
If you see the message ‘Your software is up-to-date’, make sure to double-check that your iPhone has the latest iOS 13 and your watch is compatible with watchOS 6.
If you just updated your iPhone to iOS 13, try and restart your iPhone and then check for the watchOS 6 update in the My Watch section.
Tip: Check to make sure Apple Servers are working by visiting the Apple System Status page.
The most common reason is that Apple servers are busy when the new watchOS is released as many users are trying to update their Apple Watch at the same time. Give it some time and check if the update shows up on the Watch app on your iPhone.
watchOS 6 Beta on your Apple Watch?
If you are (or were) a Beta participant for watchOS and deleted the beta profile from your iPhone, you also need to delete the Beta profile from your Apple Watch before you can update to the public release of watchOS 6.
- Tap on Watch App > Settings > General > Profiles
- Delete the Beta Profile from here by tapping on ‘Remove Profile’
- Restart your iPhone and Apple Watch
Check for watchOS 6 again by following the above steps and update.
watchOS 6 Install and Update Problems Summary
In this article, we will look at some of most frequently occurring issues around watchOS 6 installation. The watchOS 6 install errors can be broadly classified into three main areas:
- Unable to Find or locate the watchOS 6 update on your iPhone
- The error message Unable to check for watchOS 6 update
- Unable to Verify the watchOS 6 update
- The error message Unable to Install the watchOS 6 update
We have summarized some of these issues and addressed the better known workarounds in more details to help deal with them.
‘Unable to Check for update’ when installing watch OS 6
The other error message that users commonly see when trying to check for Software Update is ‘Unable to verify update’.
This shows up in a couple of variants:
- Unable to check for Update because you are not connected to Internet OR
- Unable to check for Update and error occurred while checking for a software update
It is hard to specifically pin-point the issue that might be causing this. Here are several tips that can help you address this issue when installing watchOS 6. Try each of these in succession till the issue is fixed.
- Switch your WiFi signal to a 2.4 GHz WiFi network if using 5 GHz from your router
- Disable the WiFi Assist feature and then try the update again
- On your iPhone, tao on Settings > Cellular > Scroll down to the bottom and switch off Wi-Fi Assist feature
- Switch both your iPhone and Apple Watch to AirPlane mode. Wait for 30 seconds and switch off Airplane mode on your iPhone followed by Apple Watch. Check for the Update
- Reset your Network Connections on your Apple iPhone by tapping on Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings
- If your Apple Watch has more than 75% charge, remove it from the charger and see if the watchOS 6 update check process works. Some users report that they were able to check and install the update when they removed their watch from the charger.
Unable to Verify Update error message when updating to watchOS 6
If you are seeing Unable to Verify Update error message with watchOS 6, your best bet is to delete the downloaded update and try again.
- Open the Watch app on your iPhone
- Tap on My Watch at the bottom of the screen
- Tap on General > Usage > Software Update
- Delete the watchOS 6 update file and restart your iPhone
Sometimes there are issues with the update and Apple pulls them off, so that they can provide a better update with the appropriate fixes. Although this happens rarely, but it is wise to check Apple’s site to see if there is an issue with the update (for example: Apple Watch gets bricked after the latest watchOS install)
watchOS could not be verified you are not connected to Internet
Many users encounter this error message variant when trying to install watchOS 6 on their Apple Watch. This is a very puzzling error message as your devices are already connected to internet.
You have been able to download the watchOS 6 update but when you try to install by tapping on it, this message shows up.
In our experience, the ‘not connected to internet’ error message can be tackled with the following steps in the exact sequence as shown below:
- Power off your iPhone
- Power off your Apple Watch
- Next, Power on your iPhone
- Power on the Apple Watch and put it on the charger
- Open Watch app on iPhone
- Tap on My Watch > General > Software Update
- Apply the new update
Sometimes the above sequence of steps is required a couple of times in order to solve the issue.
You can also unpair your watch, then re-pair and try to install the watchOS 6 update to see if that works.
For more stubborn issues that keep on showing ‘watchOS Could not be verified you are not connected to internet’, you may want to reset your Apple Watch and set it up as a new watch and then try and update to watchOS 6.
- On your Apple Watch, tap on General –> Settings –> Reset –> Erase All Content and Settings
- Pair the Watch again to the iPhone running iOS 13
- Restore your Watch from the back-up or New (depending upon your preference)
- Put your Watch on the charger.
- Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone
- Follow steps from above to check for update and install
The next sequence of errors following a successful verification is usually the install errors.
watchOS 6 could not be installed, How-to fix
One of the most common reasons why watchOS updates fail when trying to install is because the Apple Watch does not have sufficient free storage for the update.
This is particularly true for Series 1,2 and 3 Apple Watch models where users have been using their Apple Watch for sometime now and there are storage constraints on the device.
Check the amount of free storage you have on your Apple Watch.
- From your Apple Watch, tap on Settings app
- Tap on General > Usage
Check and see if you have sufficient free storage. Users who use their Apple Watch to listen to music and podcasts should definitely check their available storage if they encounter watchOS 6 install errors.
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you reclaim some of your Apple Watch storage before you update it to watchOS 6.
- Please make sure to check these tips to free up storage on Apple Watch
Apple Watch won’t Pair after watchOS 6 Update, Fix
This is a problem that we experienced when working with the watch beta. The Apple watch would have no issues with downloading the latest watchOS 6 but when you tried pairing it with the iPhone running iOS 13 / 13.1, the paring would not complete. You would see a ‘Pairing Failed’ message.
We noticed the issue while testing with Apple Watch Series 3. If you run into this issue and you have attempted at all the basic troubleshooting steps outlined in the Apple white paper without success, try this one trick.
- On your iPhone running iOS 13, Open the Find My App
- Tap on Devices and locate your Apple Watch
- Swipe left and choose ‘Delete’
Once you have removed the Apple Watch from your list of activated devices, Try and Pair again. You can always go back and add your Apple Watch to Find My once the pairing is successful.
Persistence is your friend when installing watchOS 6
Be persistent! Sometimes it takes a few attempts before your watch, and phone connect to Apple’s servers!
One tip that has helped during past releases in switching off Bluetooth once the update starts downloading.
This requires that your Apple Watch can connect to Wi-Fi ( via your router or shared hotspot). If you are not sure, do not try this tip.
So, the trick is to let it start downloading the update, then turn off Bluetooth on your iPhone, and it will have no choice but to maintain the connection over Wi-Fi.
Then, just turn Bluetooth back on after it’s done updating. Usually, this tip reduces the “Hours remaining” significantly.
Obsessed with tech since the early arrival of A/UX on Apple, Sudz (SK) is responsible for the original editorial direction of AppleToolBox. He is based out of Los Angeles, CA.
Sudz specializes in covering all things macOS, having reviewed dozens of OS X and macOS developments over the years.
In a former life, Sudz worked helping Fortune 100 companies with their technology and business transformation aspirations.