In the past years the watchOS betas were only available for paying developers. This year Apple is putting an end to this and is now offering a public beta of watchOS 7. The company had already announced at the WWDC developer conference that it would be extending the public beta program.
While developers have already had access to these pre-release versions of watchOS for the Apple Watch in previous years, normal users only had access to betas of iOS, iPadOS, tvOS and macOS – the smartwatch has so far been left out. While these developer betas have been available for several weeks and have reached the fourth round by now, the public testing of the watchOS 7 Public Beta is only now beginning.
As with the other beta versions, watchOS should not be installed on the primary Apple Watch. So you might want to install it on an older model which you have not actively used since an upgrade.
This is even more important for the Apple Watch than for the smartphone or tablet operating system. In contrast to iOS or iPadOS, a downgrade from beta is not possible with the smartwatch. So you can’t jump from watchOS 7 back to watchOS 6. In such a case you have to contact Apple support.
The requirements for testing watchOS 7 include an iPhone with the beta version of iOS 14 installed. With watchOS 7 Apple has also increased the hardware requirements for the Apple Watch. This means that only Apple Watch Series 3, Series 4 and Series 5 will be compatible with the new operating system.
Among the new features of watchOS 7 are an integrated sleep tracking and new fitness activities, for example dancing, in the workout app. Furthermore, it is possible to share the self-assembled watch faces with other Apple Watch wearers.
Apple’s watchOS 7 Public Beta 1 can now be found on Apple’s website. There the company also provides further information about the installation process. The final version of watchOS 7 will be released this fall.