Apple released a new support document today, stating that iOS 15.4 and watchOS 8.5 officially support recovery operations for the Apple Watch using the iPhone.
The support document states that if an Apple Watch running watchOS 8.5 or higher shows an animation of the Apple Watch and iPhone next to each other, users can start the recovery program by following these steps.
1. Make sure there's an iPhone nearby. The iPhone needs to be running iOS 15.4 or higher, connected to Wi-Fi and bluetooth enabled, and unlocked.
2. Put your Apple Watch on the charger.
3. Double-click the side button on the Apple Watch (the one below the round digital crown).
4. Follow the steps that appear on the iPhone.
If those steps don't work, Apple advises users to check their Wi-Fi connection. Specifically, Apple says to try to use a 2.4ghz network instead of a 5GHz one, and to avoid using 802.1x or Captive Wi-Fi networks, such as those in hotel rooms.
In an internal memo to Apple Stores and Authorized service providers obtained by MacRumors, Apple said the feature allows users and technicians to restore watchOS on certain Apple Watch models without having to mail the device to an Apple repair center. The memo did not specify which Apple Watch models supported the feature.
IT Home has learned that Apple support documents say users may see a red exclamation mark on their Apple Watch, and if that happens, Apple says to double click the button on the side and follow the steps above. If the Apple Watch continues to display red exclamation marks, users are advised to contact Apple Support to arrange for a mail-in repair.
IOS 15.4 and watchOS 8.5 are released today with iPadOS 15.4, macOS 12.3, tvOS 15.4 and HomePod 15.4.