Apple Withdraws WatchOS Update That Bricked Devices

Apple has pulled a new version of the Apple Watch operating system that it unveiled earlier this week after some users reported that the update rendered their devices useless.

Some users reported on social media that the recently introduced Series 4 model of the Apple Watch was stuck on the loading screen indefinitely after installing the WatchOS 5.1 update.

The software launched at an event in New York on Tuesday, along with iOS 12.1, a larger iPad Pro and a revamped MacBook Air.

It isn’t clear how many users have been affected, but Apple said it was withdrawing the update and working on a fix.

The Apple Watch Series 4. Image credit: Apple

Update pulled

“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,” Apple stated.

It said affected users should contact AppleCare, but that there was no need to take action if the update installed without a problem.

Users reported being told it was necessary for affected devices to be shipped back to Apple to be fixed.

Chris Ball from Belfast said Apple sent him a message saying this was the only way for repairs to take place.

“Even if you went to an Apple Retail Store or Apple Authorised Service Provider, we’d need to ship the Watch to a repair depot,” the message said, according to the BBC.


Users expressed frustration with the issue, which in some cases “bricked” brand new devices for which their owners had paid hundreds of pounds.

“I get to set up my new watch only to have it bricked by an update five minutes later and my only option is to send it in for repair and wait a week for a replacement?” wrote Jeffrey Scott Barlow of Seattle on Twitter. “Really, Apple.”

Recent botched updates include a Windows 10 update earlier this month that caused files to vanish from users’ desktops.

Apple doesn’t install new WatchOS versions automatically, but this is the case with some other software, including Windows 10 and Google’s Chrome.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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