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 what we know about whether you can jailbreak an Apple Watch, and why you might want to.

What is Jailbreaking?

At its simplest, 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?

Not at the moment, although there are promising developments. 

In the past, various hackers have demonstrated their efforts. In 2017, hacker Max Bazaliy demonstrated a watchOS 3 jailbreak at a convention but didn't release the files to the public. With watchOS now utilizing watchOS 6, it's outdated technology.

More recently, Ethan Pepro has been working on a watchOS 5 based jailbreak, but it's still very much a work in progress. 

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

Will It Ever Be Possible to Jailbreak an Apple Watch?

For now, it's definitely not possible to jailbreak an Apple Watch, but this could change in the future. With many hackers working on a solution, it seems plausible that Apple Watches could be hacked as easily as an iPhone. 

The only real issue here is it's very 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 your 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 it doesn't work again. 

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.