A Fix for Apple Watch Apps Not Showing Up

This post is for the search engines, about how I remedied an issue with my Apple Watch, for folks who might have the same issues.

TL;DR version: if watch-enhanced apps are not even showing up in the iPhone Apple Watch app, check in that app to make sure that you have the latest watchOS version.

I stopped by the Apple Store in Akron Ohio the other day to have my iPhone's camera replaced because its stabilization had started to go crazy. As they fixed it for free under warranty, I lazily watched the in-store video advertisements and impulsively decided to buy an Apple Watch.

Since its release I've had absolutely no interest in getting an Apple Watch, and I don't even think they look very good (my taste in watches is more simple, classic, as evidenced here). But my mother recently had a stroke that left her paralyzed on the left side — the reason for my extended visit to The States — and thought that maybe an Apple Watch, with its Siri voice commands, might be a useful tool for her in the future. So, I bought one to test with.

After my iPhone was fixed, Apple staff helped me pair it with my newly-purchased Apple Watch and do some basic setup. It was all fast and easy, and I was out the door without any of the angst and dismay of my previous visit.

The Problem: some Apple Watch Apps Just Don't Show Up

The iPhone includes a built-in Apple Watch app that contains a list of all of your watch-enhanced phone apps. For example, the Facebook Messenger phone app includes a component for the watch so that you can receive message notifications on the watch. It's within this Apple Watch phone app that you configure which apps you actually do want to appear on your watch.

The problem I ran into is that some watch-enhanced apps simply didn't show up in the Apple Watch phone app. For example, Facebook's Messenger app did not show up.

Searching on the intertubes brought no end of talk about problems with apps not showing up on the watch itself, but nothing about my problem, about apps not even showing up in the phone Apple Watch app's list.

I had the latest versions of OSX and iTunes, and no amount of resets and full restores solved anything.

The problem, it turns out after many red herrings, is that the watch's software (watchOS) was old at version 1, and nothing alerted me to the fact that the watch I just bought didn't include the major watchOS version 2 update released four months ago. I'd have thought that somewhere along the line — Apple Staff helping me set it up the watch, iOS, iTunes, the watch itself, etc. — would have let me know that there was an update available.

As it was, with the old software, any phone app that targeted the new watch version would simply be invisible to the watch and the phone's Apple Watch app.

Inside the Apple Watch app on my phone, I went to General > Software Update (which had no notification icon). It did a check and lo and behold there was indeed an update. I launched it, and an hour later the phone displayed... drum-roll please... watchOS 1.0.1 / Your software is up to date.

Uh, I was supposed to have been installing watch0S 2.1.

It turns out that even though the phone was done doing the update, the watch itself wasn't quite done. A while later I could confirm that indeed the watch was at watchOS 2.1.

Now, all the watch-enabled apps do appear in the phone's Apple Watch app list. Woo-hoo!

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