My Series 5 watch arrived a day early. I wasn't got to get a Series 5. I had skipped the Series 4 as I was quite happy with my Series 3+LTE. The only things added seemed minor really. Even the series 5 always on screen was a meh feature that I didn't feel I needed. The watch face is always on when I look it it, and not when I don't so why would I want it on when I'm not. We'll see. I upgraded in the end because somebody made me a very compelling financial offer that made it cost me about $50 to do so.
But that's not what I planned to write about. What I want to "talk" about is the upgrade experience for an existing AppleWatch owner.
The theory goes like this.
- You upgrade to your new watch by setting it up and choosing to restore from an existing backup.
- This is a very similar experience to how you can perform an over-the-air upgrade of your phone.
- But how do you make sure you have a good, recent backup?
Well for a phone upgrade you force an iCloud backup or backup to iTunes and you are done.
The best way to force a backup of your watch is to unpair it from your phone. This means that you'll need to restore it all over again if you intend to keep it, and if you use ApplePay painfully setup all your credit cards again.
What happens when you do this and the backup of your old watch isn't there? In the end you either pick a very old backup (from a year ago), or you chose to set up the watch from scratch - a very long process to get it configured just how you had it, if you can even remember.
Why does this happen?
It happens if your old watch is running a newer version of the OS than your new watch. If you received your new watch on day one of release this is less likely to happen, but if you receive your new watch sometime after the initial release date it is highly likely that the OS on the watch in the box is older than your current watch — which you have been religiously keeping updated.
Here is what happened to me: my existing watch is running watchOS 6.1, my new watch, out of the box, is running watchOS 6.0.x and thus I can't restore my backup until I upgrade my new watch. Apple don't make this obvious, they don't tell you, and leave you to work it out for yourself.
Here are the steps involved:
- Setup the new watch as "new"
- Upgrade the watchOS to the latest version (or at least as new as the version on your old watch)
- Unpair the watch.
- Unpair your old watch
- Setup your new watch with the backup from your old watch
- Rename your new watch to indicate that it is different from your old watch
- Setup your old watch with the same backup
- Setup your credit cards in ApplePay on your new watch
- Setup your credit cards in ApplePay on your old watch
Why oh why can't Apple make this simpler. Why isn't there a "migration assistant" for watches. Just setup the new one by inheriting all the settings of the old one, upgrading the OS along the way if needed.
This really could be a one-step setup. Even a phone is only a two step setup. mac's have a migration assistant.
Apple you really have to get much better at this.