A photograph showing Apple Watch Series 3 Nike+ edition packaging

Old Apple Watch apps built with legacy watchOS SDKs produce a warning when launched in watchOS 4.3.1. On watchOS 5 and later, such apps refuse to open at all.

The obvious goal here is removing legacy WatchKit apps that are built with the outdated watchOS SDK versions that don’t take advantage of the latest hardware and software technologies.

Getting rid of outdated apps

In November 2017, Apple gave developers a heads-up warning that it would soon stop accepting updates to watchOS 1 apps. “This app will not work with future versions of watchOS,” reads the warning message in watchOS 4.3.1.

Apple completely dropped support for those apps in watchOS 5.

A screenshot of a warning message in watchOS 4.3.1 informing the user that the app needs to be updated because it will not work with future versions of watchOS

A warning when launching a legacy watch app in watchOS 4.3.1

As of April 2018, the Cupertino technology giant is no longer accepting any updates to existing apps that are built with the watchOS 1 SDK, as well as new apps built with the watchOS 3 SDK. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because those apps were very slow,  relied on a connected iPhone and didn’t support cellular on LTE-equipped watches.

TUTORIAL: How to identify legacy Mac apps

If you’re still on watchOS 4.3.x, you may have seen this warning already. If not, here’s how to see if the apps on your watch have been built with the watchOS 4 SDK or later to ensure they’ll run properly after updating to the watchOS 5 software.

Here’s how.

How to identify legacy Apple Watch apps

To see if you have any outdated watchOS apps, do the following:

1) Open the companion Watch app on your paired iPhone.

2) Tap the My Watch tab at the bottom.

3) Now scroll all the way to the bottom of the list of available apps.

A screenshot showing the Unavailable Apps section at the bottom of the My Tab in the companion Watch app on iPhone

4) If you see the entry labeled Unavailable Apps, some of the apps installed on this watch (or those installed on your iPhone that came with a watchOS component, ready to be installed on your watch) won’t open on watchOS 5. Tap Unavailable Apps to proceed.

You can delete a legacy app and its data at will

Any legacy apps built with the watchOS 1, 2 or 3 SDK are listed here.

5) Choose an unsupported app from the list, then tap it.

6) From there, tap Delete App & Associate Data if you’d like to do just that.

And that’s how you identify any deprecated apps on your Apple Watch.

“These apps don’t work with watchOS 5 and must be updated to continue using them,” reads Apple’s description. “If no update is available, contact the app developer for more information.”

TUTORIAL: How to identify legacy apps on iPhone and iPad

You could reach out to the app developer in question and ask them if they are planning on releasing a compatibility update anytime soon, but good luck with that.

That’s because major apps—like Google Maps, Amazon, eBay, Twitter, Twitterrific, Instagram and others—no longer offer a watchOS component because their developers can no longer justify spending time and pouring resources into their development and maintenance.

iOS 10.3 and up included a similar message about a pending shift away from 32-bit apps in favor of 64-bit apps. Beginning with iOS 11, Apple no longer supports 32-bit iPhone and iPad apps.

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