iOS 15, watchOS 8 let you install updates with less than 500MB of available storage

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iOS 15 brings welcome enhancements to FaceTime, Notifications, more
Great news for Apple Watch Series 3, in particular.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s newest iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and watchOS 8 betas, rolled out to registered developers on Wednesday, allow you to install software updates with less than 500MB of available storage.

The change means that devices with lower storage capacities — like Apple Watch Series 3, which has only 8GB — will now be a lot easier to update.

New iOS, iPadOS and watchOS updates, particularly those that introduce significant changes and new features, can be rather hefty. That makes installing them on some low-capacity devices pretty frustrating.

Users typically have to remove apps, games, videos, and other content to download the updates, which typically weigh in at several gigabytes. But that’s going to change in iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and watchOS 8.

iOS 15 and watchOS 8 require less storage for updates

“You can now update your device using Software Update if less than 500 MB of storage is available,” reads Apple’s release notes for the third iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and watchOS 8 betas.

It’s not clear what kind of trickery Apple is using to make this possible, but it’s definitely a welcome improvement for content hoarders and those who have lower capacity devices — like Apple Watch Series 3.

With just 8GB of storage packed into GPS models, Apple Watch 3 has become increasingly difficult to update. Back in May, Apple actually encourages users to reset their device to install new watchOS 7 updates.

Because of this, many believed Apple would drop support for Apple Watch 3 — now almost four years old — in watchOS 8. It’s great to see that it is instead making changes to updates to avoid that move.

New in iOS 15 and watchOS 8 beta 3

iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and watchOS 8 also come with other bug fixes and improvements as Apple continues to tweak these updates ahead of their big public debuts this fall.

iOS and iPadOS 15 make some big changes to Safari to address user complaints surrounding its redesign. They also introduce revamped Music widgets, and new actions for Background Sounds in Shortcuts.