Can You Jailbreak the Apple Watch?

Learn about potential Apple Watch hacks

Jailbreaking is relatively simple for the iPhone, but when it comes to Apple Watch hacks the process is much more complex and less successful. Here's everything to know about jailbreaking an Apple Watch, and why you might want to do so.

What Is Jailbreaking?

Jailbreaking is the process of hacking or modifying a device in order to run unauthorized software or apps. Typically, jailbreaking is referred to when discussing 'hacking' an iPhone or iPad. A jailbreak means you can do things on your iPhone that you couldn't previously do, like tweak certain settings, customize your phone more extensively, or install apps not available on the App Store.  

Is It Possible to Jailbreak an Apple Watch?

An Apple Watch jailbreak was released in 2018, but it does not offer much usability for average users. It is more for developers interested in taking a look under the hood. The jailbreak is compatible with watchOS 4.1 and Apple Watch Series 3. It includes a number of read and write privileges and features detailed on 9to5mac.

In 2017, hacker Max Bazaliy demonstrated a watchOS 3 jailbreak at a convention but did not release the files to the public. With watchOS now utilizing watchOS 6, it's outdated technology.

In all cases, there's no App Store functionality, so the potential for tweaking is pretty limited and far removed from the experience that users get to enjoy with a jailbroken iPhone. 

With many hackers working on a solution, it seems plausible that Apple Watches will eventually be as hackable as an iPhone. The only real issue here is that it's difficult to downgrade your Apple Watch firmware, compared to doing so with your iPhone or iPad, which makes switching between jailbroken software and the official build difficult and off-putting. 

Why Would I Want to Jailbreak an Apple Watch?

Jailbreaking opens up the otherwise closed ecosystem of an Apple device, and that offers quite a few advantages. The reliability that comes from using the App Store means you know all the apps are safe, but it can also restrict a certain amount of creativity.

  • Jailbroken iPhones have access to a different app store: Known as Cydia, it's an unofficial App Store with more apps than the official one. 
  • A jailbroken device offers more customization options: These can include being able to tweak the appearance of their iPhone more so than through conventional means. It'd be useful to be able to do something similar on your Apple Watch, potentially giving you more power and control through your watch faces.
  • User interface adjustments such as new widgets: One such widget could allow you to set certain alerts tied into contacts, or set up watch faces that have practical purposes as well as good looks.

Why Would I Not Want to Jailbreak My Apple Watch?

Jailbreaking any device is risky. It can void your warranty, and potentially 'brick' your Apple Watch so that it does not work anymore. 

There are also risks with trusting custom made software. Potentially, a piece of jailbreaking software could contain malware or other dangers for your Apple Watch. Or, the apps you download through it could simply be broken and not work correctly. Anything other than the official software runs the risk of being unstable.