The first Apple Watch, the Series 0, can’t run watchOS 5, 3 1/2 years after its introduction, 2 years after it was discontinued. Has Apple made any statements about whether there will continue to be security updates for wachOS 4 and if so, for how long? My recollection is Apple doesn’t do security updates for previous iOS versions but I think they have done so for Apple TV software (i.e. an update for the 3rd gen.'s OS after the 4th gen. and its new OS was out).
I’m also wondering if watchOS 5 will be the last for the Series 1. It was introduced in 2016 along with the Series 2 but with a slower processor and worse GPU; the Series 1 is basically the same as the 0 but with a dual-core processor. The Series 2 was already discontinued last year, when the Series 3 was introduced, and the 3’s hardware was significant step up so it’s plausible that watchOS 5 will be the last for the Series 2 as well.
I have a Series 1 and don’t think it needs continuing major updates but as a very connected device, the Apple Watch should have at least security updates for a decent length of time. 3 years after a model’s discontinuation (i.e. the latest time an AppleCare hardware warranty could cover) would be good and would only require 1 year of security updates for watchOS 4 to fulfill. If watchOS 5 is the last for the Series 1 (and maybe the Series 2), it would need updates until Sept. 2021, 2 years of security-only updates if a watchOS 6 comes out in a year.
I suppose we’ll see what happens with the S1 and S2 and watchOS 6, but how critical will security updates be for watchOS 4? There is no web browser capability, no way to install software on the watch from the watch itself, so is it as critical as iOS security updates would be?
And, of course, I think we know the answer; all of those devices stuck on iOS 6,iOS 9, and iOS 10 have received no security updates that I am aware of.
I do know that the dual core processor in the S1 and S2 were big upgrades over the S0, and knowing that Apple was selling the S1 as recently as last week, I bet Apple will do the best they can to get at least one more OS update for those watches while they are still on two year AppleCare plans. But, we’ll see…
There’s not a web browser in watchOS 4 or earlier but the watch can still display content sent to it that might trigger a buffer overflow. More significantly, the Bluetooth or WiFi could be attacked directly.
watchOS 5’s web capabilities will increase the need for continued security updates in the future. Just this week, there’s a bug revealed in WebKit for iOS and macOS that can lock up the whole device using only CSS. Apple has demonstrated a willingness to update its web software for longer periods (though, as you note, not on iOS).
My only guess is that for those people, $17,000 isn’t a painful purchase. Maybe it’s on a shelf as a collector’s item—I suspect the rarity of them (since allegedly not many were sold) would be interesting.
I also wonder if it’s possible for after-market techs to pull the guts from a Series 1 or 2 and implant them into an Edition watch. With everything inside as a SOC (system on a chip), I speculated that perhaps Apple would offer some sort of similar upgrade to its Edition customers. Maybe, if it had been successful, they would have.
I distinctly recall a security update for at least iOS 10, and I’m pretty sure there was one for iOS 9 as well. At the time I was stuck on devices that could not move forward; so I have some memory of being pleased that some serious Safari and crashing issues were addressed. It wouldn’t take much effort to go look at the release dates on Wikipedia.