Apple on Wednesday released iOS 15.6.1 and macOS Monterey 12.5.1 to all users. The updates bring no new features or major changes. Instead, they come with important security improvements. The company also released watchOS 8.7.1, but this update fixes a specific bug affecting Apple Watch Series 3 models.
watchOS 8.7.1 is available only for Apple Watch Series 3
According to the release notes, watchOS 8.7.1 fixes a bug that could cause the Apple Watch Series 3 to reboot unexpectedly for some users. For this reason, the update is only available for Series 3 models, which means that Apple Watch Series 4 and later won’t receive today’s update.
The Apple Security Updates webpage, on which the company provides details about the security enhancements made with each software update, makes it clear that watchOS 8.7.1 doesn’t come with any changes other than fixing the bug affecting Apple Watch Series 3 users. Both iOS 15.6.1 and macOS Monterey 12.5.1 come with security fixes.
According to Apple, one of the fixed vulnerabilities allowed third-party applications to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges. Another vulnerability found in WebKit, Safari’s web engine, has also been fixed with the update. These vulnerabilities affected both iPhone, iPad, and Mac users.
In the meantime, Apple continues to work on watchOS 9, the next major update for the Apple Watch software. watchOS 9 comes with new watch faces, enhancements to the Workout app, medication reminders, and more. However, watchOS 9 requires Apple Watch Series 4 and later, which means Series 3 won’t get the update.
Just like iOS 16, watchOS 9 is expected to be officially released next month.
watchOS 7 was released to the general public last week, bringing new watch face features, sleep tracking support, and more to Apple Watch models dating back to the Apple Watch Series 3. Some Apple Watch Series 3 users, however, are reporting a variety issues since installing watchOS 7, including random reboots, poor performance, and more.
On Apple’s support forums, there’s a thread dedicated to Apple Watch Series 3 owners expressing frustration with device performance since installing watchOS 7. One of the most common complaints seems to be that the Apple Watch Series 3 will randomly reboot multiple times per day with watchOS 7 installed:
I’ve had several reboots a day since updating, it asks me for my passcode and shows blank stats on activity. Never had an issue like this before on Watch OS6 or earlier, surely there has to be a supplement update from Apple to address this?
Multiple Apple Watch Series 3 users refer to watchOS 7 as “the worst” watchOS update that Apple has released so far.
My series 3 completed an auto update overnight to Watch OS7. Today it has shut itself down at least 3 times, locked itself while on my wrist about 4 times, failed to load complications on multiple faces (weather, activity rings, date etc), disconnected from my phone at least twice. This has been the buggiest upgrade I have seen.
On the MacRumors Forums, there’s another thread dedicated to Apple Watch Series 3 owners voicing frustration with watchOS 7, including complaints of random reboots, laggy performance, and more.
Two things make these complaints even more notable. First, there is no way to downgrade a watchOS 7 update, which means these Apple Watch Series 3 owners can’t downgrade back to watchOS 6. watchOS 7.0.1 was released as a bug fix update this week, but users report that it has not solved their problems.
Secondly, Apple still sells the Apple Watch Series 3 as part of its Apple Watch lineup, even though it seems as if the aging hardware might struggle to keep up with the new features of watchOS 7. This could also have implications for the availability of future software updates, such as watchOS 8, for the Apple Watch Series 3.
At this point, it’s unclear how widespread these issues are, but judging by the sheer volume of complaints, the problems are likely to already be on Apple’s radar. Have you experienced any of these issues with your Apple Watch Series 3 since updating to watchOS 7? Let us know down in the comments.
Apple is promoting the Apple Watch Series 3 as a holiday gift idea in a new series of ads shared this afternoon on its YouTube channel. Entitled “The Gift of Go,” each of the four videos focuses on the Apple Watch Series 3 being used during a specific activity.
The ads focus on snowboarding, soccer, working out, and swimming, with each one showing off a different Apple Watch Series 3 feature. Soccer and snowboarding, for example, demonstrate phone calls over cellular and text messaging.
Workout highlights Apple Music, and Swim focuses on the Workout app. All of the ads share the same general style – a quick look at a feature that shifts to a multi-object view that then transforms into wrapping paper over an Apple Watch Series 3 box.
These videos are just about 15 seconds in length, which is the video length that Apple uses for social media ads on sites like Instagram.
All of the videos focus on the aluminum Apple Watch Series 3 models that have LTE capabilities, with the red Digital Crown clearly visible in each one.
While these are the first short videos featuring the Apple Watch Series 3 that Apple has shared, the company has been running several Apple Watch ads that debuted when the device was first announced in September.
Apple Watch Series 3 models are likely to be a popular holiday gift. Pricing on the Series 3 models with LTE begins at $399, while non-LTE models are priced at $329.
You may have heard that Apple‘s first LTE-enabled Apple Watch was having issues with unsecured Wi-Fi networks, which prevented the smartwatch from using its LTE connection. When out of known Wi-Fi coverage the Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE would latch onto public networks that require a browser sign-in to work. Given that the watch lacks a browser it would connect to the network but not have internet.
Now Apple has fixed the issue in its latest watchOS update – watchOS 4.0.1.
All you need to do in order to get the fix is download iOS 11.0.2 on your iPhone and then update the Apple Watch Series 3.
It’s been an unusually bumpy introduction for the cellular Apple Watch. Outside of the aforementioned issues users in the UK have reported difficulties activating the eSIM in the new Apple Watch.
Here’s hoping it’s smooth sailing from here on out.
On September 22, Apple Watch Series 3 with built-in cellular and Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS went on sale around the world at 8 a.m. local time. The new Watches add powerful health and fitness enhancements, a faster dual-core processor, a new wireless chip and watchOS 4.
Apple Union Square, San Francisco
A customer uses Apple Watch Series 3 to call his mother from Apple Union Square in San Francisco.
Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, presenting features of the new Apple Watch at a company event last week. Cellular connectivity with the smartwatches is likely a luxury that most people probably will not need.Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times
To understand why you might want the new cellular Apple Watch, put yourself in the shoes of a wealthy person who drives a weekend car.
In this situation, your iPhone is like your everyday workhorse vehicle, with the muscle to speed through emails, calendar invitations and social media posts. But when it comes time to unwind, you can leave the house with just a cellular Apple Watch — the equivalent of the weekend car — and still have access to a lightweight phone that can handle calls and text messages.
In other words, wearing the Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular connectivity, which Apple will release Friday, is like owning a leisure phone that is excessive but situationally useful. Apple’s first wearable to include cellular may come in handy when you are at the gym and want to leave your phone in the locker, or when you go out for a run and want to remain reachable.
After testing the cellular watch for a week, I found it to be an excellent smart watch that is a significant improvement over the first Apple Watch, which was slow, confusing to use and deeply flawed.
But the cellular version is a luxury that most people probably will not need. The price you pay for those brief moments of respite from your iPhone is steep: at least $399 for the hardware, plus $10 a month for access on your cellphone plan for some carriers. And I seldom found reasons to use the watch without my iPhone to justify the extra cost.
There may also be some early kinks for Apple to work out with the new cellular Watch. Some reviewers discovered that the device occasionally lost its cellular connection, for example. Apple said on Wednesday that the issue was related to the watch inadvertently connecting to open Wi-Fi networks that lacked internet connectivity, and that it was investigating a software fix.
In the end, some people who want a wearable device for things like fitness tracking and a quick glance at mobile notifications will probably be happy with the Series 3 without cellular, which costs $329.
Like its predecessors, the Apple Watch Series 3 is a computer worn around the wrist, with a miniature touch screen.
The main difference with the cellular Apple Watch is that some important features, like placing calls, texting and streaming music, will work when you are not near your phone.Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times
The device requires an iPhone to set up and work properly. Notifications like text messages or social media alerts that come to your iPhone appear on the watch first if you are not actively using the phone. The watch runs apps, including some built-in software for fitness tracking as well as third-party widgets you can download from the App Store.
The main difference with the cellular Apple Watch is that some important features, like placing calls, texting and streaming music, will work when you are not near your phone; the watch shares the same phone number and cellular plan with your iPhone.
To help determine whether the cellular watch is right for you, I abandoned my iPhone to test the watch in a number of common situations. Here’s how that went.
Over the weekend, my partner and I made plans to go to dinner at a sushi restaurant. I used the Apple Watch to summon a Lyft car to pick us up at home.
At the sushi bar, I liked that I didn’t have a smartphone constantly buzzing in my pocket, though I got a text that I quickly responded to on the watch using an emoji. My partner and I enjoyed 90 minutes of intimate conversation over omakase with minimal distraction, though I was a bit envious that she could Instagram our gorgeous nigiri.
Verdict: I could have had roughly the same experience with just an iPhone put on Do Not Disturb mode — and a bit of self-discipline.
For several days, I wore just the watch while walking my dogs. Not having a phone freed up valuable space in my pockets for other items, like my keys, my wallet, dog treats and bags. I liked that the Apple Watch tracked my steps and walking distance to make dog walking feel more like exercise than a chore. I placed a call to my partner with the watch to tell her where to meet me at a park; she said the call sounded crystal clear.
It was also nice that with just the watch, I could still be reachable via phone or text by my colleagues during morning walks — but emails took several minutes to show up after they were sent. It turns out that while texts and calls are done directly on the cellular watch, emails still rely on the iPhone’s pushing emails to the cloud, which then transmits the message to your watch.
Verdict: The watch is good for staying reachable via phone or texts. But in those brief moments when you need to step away from a computer during work hours, a smartphone is still necessary if you rely heavily on email, as I do.
I wore the watch and took a pair of AirPods, Apple’s wireless earbuds, to a rock-climbing gym. Again, I left my iPhone behind.
At the gym, I opened the Workout app to track my heart rate and calories burned throughout the workout. During breaks, I used Siri to write a few quick texts to some friends to make plans for the week. I put on the AirPods in the hope of streaming songs on the watch from Apple Music, only to realize that this capability has not yet been released. Apple said music streaming for the cellular watch will come out next month.
Verdict: It was nice being able to stay in touch with people at the gym without a phone bulging in my pocket, but I’d be happy unplugging for a while and tracking my workout with a noncellular Apple Watch. As for whether streaming music makes a cellular watch worth owning, I unfortunately can’t tell you yet.
Here’s where leaving my phone behind and relying only on the watch did not make sense: during grocery shopping. The watch doesn’t have a web browser, let alone a big enough screen, for looking up recipes. But when it came time to check out, I hit the side button to activate Apple Pay and quickly paid for the groceries.
Verdict: A smartphone is a better shopping companion than a watch.
The Bottom Line
The value of the cellular capabilities on the Apple Watch is questionable considering the price you pay each month.
AT&T and Verizon Wireless, for example, charge a network access fee of $10 a month to share your phone plan’s texts, minutes and data with an Apple Watch. That’s about the same as a Spotify subscription, but with the exception of avid joggers and gym rats, people may not use the cellular features frequently enough. Hopefully, over time, Apple will negotiate with carriers to bring the monthly rate down.
Although I think most people can skip buying the cellular model, the Apple Watch Series 3 is the first smart watch I can confidently recommend that people buy. While I don’t personally find it attractive enough to replace my wristwatch, the new Apple Watch is a well-designed, durable and easy-to-use fitness tracker for people who want analytics on their workouts and general health.
Important features like the stopwatch, calendar and Siri work quickly and reliably. And unlike its predecessors, the watch has impressive battery life — on average, I had more than 40 percent battery remaining after a full day of use.
So the final verdict? The Apple Watch Series 3 is the first sign that wearable computers are maturing and may eventually become a staple in consumer electronics.