All beta versions are risky, but watchOS is a different beast.
Apple’s upcoming watchOS 8 adds many interesting new features to your Apple Watch; portrait mode wallpapers, sharing GIFs in messages, and setting multiple timers at once are just some wonderful changes worth exploring. With the watchOS 8 beta, you can try out all these new features right away. But our advice is: don’t.
To beta, or not to beta
Therefore, all betas are accompanied by risks. When you install beta software on your device (be it an iPhone, laptop, or Apple Watch), you are installing unfinished software. Your experience with the software can help developers discover bugs or problems that they can fix before releasing the software to the public.
Sometimes errors are just minor problems. However, other times, they are bad and make your device unusable. Application crashes, slow animations, unexpected crashes, or system-wide reboots … anything can happen.
Generally, there is a way to get rid of this beta cheat: you need to remove the beta version from your device and then restore it to factory settings to revert to the stable, non-beta version of the software. The downside is that you will lose any data that was not backed up before installing the beta, but hey, at least you got the beta version of your device. But this is not how watchOS does things.
Why Apple’s watchOS beta is different
However, with watchOS, the situation is completely different. Apple does not allow you to downgrade to an older version of watchOS after installing new software. After installing the beta version of watchOS, that’s it; Before the next update from Apple, you will be affected by the potentially troublesome and unstable operating system.
This is not to say that there are extensive reports of watchOS problems. We are not saying, “If you install this beta, your watch is a toast.” Your Apple Watch may be completely fine in beta, just like many other beta test watches. The problem is that if the beta version does not respond well to your clock, there is nothing you can do.
If there is a problem, all you can do is wait for Apple to release a beta version update, hoping to resolve the problem it found, or wait for Apple to send the final RC (release candidate), which is the same software that the general public gets.
Why can’t you downgrade your Apple Watch’s OS?
The reason is simple: Apple Watch cannot physically connect to external devices such as iPhone or Mac. It communicates fully via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. If your watch software is corrupted (which can happen during a downgrade), you won’t be able to connect it to the device to help with recovery. If the damage affects the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connection of the watch, it will not be able to communicate with the watch.
This situation causes the Apple Watch to crash and you need to send it to Apple for possible repair. This really doesn’t match the “fun and convenience” that the Apple Watch advertises, so the company did its best to avoid it. Unfortunately, this means that there is no degradation of the operating system.
So unless you are willing to take these risks, we tell you not to bother. WatchOS 8 will launch sometime this fall and may even launch next month. However, if you can’t wait, you know you’ve received a warning. If something goes wrong, at least the official statement is in sight.