iOS 15.4, watchOS 8.5 now let you restore an Apple Watch using an iPhone

watchOS 7 Shortcuts Complications
watchOS 7 Shortcuts Complications (Image credit: Joseph Keller / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple's watchOS 8.5 and iOS 15.4 now allow people to restore their Apple Watches using an iPhone.
  • People would previously have had to send their watches to Apple for service.

Apple's new iOS 15.4 and watchOS 8.5 updates now allow Apple Watch users to restore their wearable from a nearby iPhone as confirmed by a new support document.

The feature, which requires that both devices be connected to Wi-Fi and have Bluetooth enabled, is designed to make it easier for people to fix an Apple Watch should something go wrong that requires a software update or restoration. Apple outlines the feature in a newly-published support document.

Your Apple Watch might show an animation asking you to bring it close to an iPhone if your watch experiences a problem that requires it to be updated or restored. You might also see a red exclamation point on your watch.

Ios15 Apple Watch Recovery

Ios15 Apple Watch Recovery (Image credit: Apple)

The new feature requires that people have watchOS 8.5 and iOS 15.4 or later installed, with Apple suggesting that people follow these steps to get back up and running.

  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.

Unfortuantely the support document doesn't clarify which versions of Apple Watch support this feature, perhaps suggesting that any with watchOS 8.5 support are good to go. Apple does offer some troubleshooting steps should things not work, however, saying that using a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network rather than 5GHz might help get things moving if there was an issue.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.