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Apple pulls Watch OS 5.1 update

The software update, which hit alongside iOS 12.1, appears to have bricked some Series 4 Apple Watches.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple has suspended its Watch OS 5.1 software update after some users on Twitter and Reddit reported the update was "bricking" their Series 4 watches, causing an endless boot loop. The software update had gone live only hours earlier, alongside iOS 12.1. The problem wasn't happening to everyone: I was able to update the Series 4 without issue. But enough users were experiencing problems that Apple pulled the update -- it's no longer available to download. 

Here's Apple's official statement on the issue: 

Due to a small number of Apple Watch customers experiencing an issue while installing watchOS 5.1 today, we've pulled back the software update as a precaution. Any customers impacted should contact AppleCare, but no action is required if the update installed successfully. We are working on a fix for an upcoming software update.

News of the problems with the software update was previously reported by 9to5mac

The big improvement in Watch OS 5.1 was an enhancement to its fall detection system. Once 5.1 was successfully installed, a detected fall would be followed by a recorded message to emergency services, offering location information (latitude and longitude). Previously, that location information was sent to a key emergency contact instead.

The added audio message is intended for anyone who falls and is unable to speak, or falls unconscious. In the event the person who falls can still speak, there's also an option to stop the recorded message and speak directly. (The Apple Watch Series 4 has already been credited with helping at least one person who fell and needed assistance.)

Apple had previously pledged to deliver a software update to the Apple Watch Series 4 that adds electrocardiogram (ECG, also known as EKG) functionality before the end of the year, but the company hasn't specified a date.

First published Oct. 31, 2:50 p.m. PT.

Update, 7:30 p.m.: Adds confirmation that update has been pulled, with statement from Apple.

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