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Wearable Tech

WatchOS 5 is now available: How to update your Apple Watch

The new walkie-talkie mode is just an update away.


Apple just released iOS 12 for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Alongside that update, Apple has also released WatchOS 5 for the Apple Watch. Included in the update are a new walkie-talkie mode, improved notifications, the Podcasts app (finally!) and other tweaks. 

Starting today, you'll be able to update your Apple Watch to get all of these features. The update process is simple but does take some time. Here's what you need to know.

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So long, original Apple Watch

For the first time, Apple is opting not to update all Apple Watch models. Only the original Apple Watch is left out, but that's potentially a frustrating omission -- depending on how much you spent on your Apple Watch. Remember, there were models that cost $17,000. Ouch.

The models that will receive WatchOS 5 are:

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The original Apple Watch didn't have a series number. If you're unsure which model you have, Apple's FAQ page walks you through figuring it out.

Grab your charger

Before updating your Apple Watch, update your iPhone to iOS 12; otherwise, WatchOS 5 will not show up as an available update.

Once your iPhone is running iOS 12, place your Apple Watch on its charger, and make sure it has a charge of at least 50 percent. The watch will need to stay charging for the duration of the update.

Also, you'll need to have your iPhone near the watch in order for the update process to work. You can't start the update on your phone and then leave -- so be sure to set aside 30 minutes or so.

Update time!

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

All right, with your phone updated and the watch charging, open the Watch app on your iPhone. Scroll down and select General > Software Update.

After a few seconds, your phone will find the update and present you with a brief description along with a button to Download and Install the update. Tap it, and enter your passcode when prompted. You may need to also enter your passcode on the watch itself.

The update will begin downloading and installing in the background. You can use your iPhone, but just remember to stay near your Apple Watch so you don't interrupt the update.

During the update, your watch will flash on and off, showing the Apple logo most of the time. You will receive an alert on your iPhone when the update is complete, after which you can take the watch off its charger and begin using all of its shiny new features.

Everything Apple announced at its Sept. 12 event: Our exhaustive roundup.

iPhone XR, XS, XS Max: Apple's three new iPhones start at $749.