iOS 15 and watchOS 8 make it possible to download system updates even with minimal available storage

Now that the third betas of Apple’s next big updates are out there in the wild, the details are still trickling in. There’s quite a bit of new in the latest prerelease software beta. And now we know one more bit, which should be helpful to those who might be worried about available storage on their device(s) when the new update arrives.

According to a report today fromĀ 9to5Mac, and based on the release notes for iOS 15 and watchOS 8‘s latest beta seeds, it turns out Apple is making an important change to how system updates work. Namely, when it comes to the available storage necessary to download and install that new software.

It’s no secret that system updates are pretty sizable, even as companies –including Apple– try to make them more manageable. Still, there’s still work to be done in this area. But it looks like Apple may have figured something out.

A screenshot showing the "Download New Updates" and "Install Security Updates" toggles within the Automatic Updates settings on iPhone

The release notes say that, with the public release of iOS 15 and watchOS 8, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch models can be updated to the latest system version using “Software Update if less than 500 MB of storage is available.”

Per the release notes:

Software Update

Resolved in watchOS 8/iOS 15 beta 3: You can now update your device using Software Update if less than 500 MB of storage is available. (78474912)

There is no additional information to go on here. Apple doesn’t dive into any details on how they are making this work. With system updates usually pretty big, it would be pretty great to hear from the company how this works. Unless it only relates to software updates that are smaller than 500MB. If that’s the case, that wouldn’t be so impressive.

Perhaps Apple will talk about this new “feature” in iOS 15 and watchOS 8 in the near future.