SAN FRANCISCO - Apple Inc. delayed the first major software update for Apple Watch because of a bug it discovered in the operating system that couldn't be fixed before Wednesday's planned release.
The new watch software will be available soon, Apple spokeswoman Amy Bessette said, without providing a specific time frame. She declined to say what caused the problem, only that it's "taking a bit longer to fix than we expected."
Apple Watch is the company's first new hardware product since the iPad's 2010 debut and is a key part of Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook's strategy to find new areas of growth. With the delay, the company is attempting to avoid another high- profile blunder, such as when its map application gave inaccurate directions and when the iPhone 4's antenna caused people to lose reception if held a certain way. Last year, the company released an iPhone software update that prevented users from making calls.
The problems with the watch software won't affect Apple's release Wednesday of iOS 9, the latest version of the operating system that powers the iPhone and iPad. That update became available at 1 p.m. New York time.
Apple introduced three models of the smartwatch in April, with prices ranging from $349 for the most basic version to $17,000 for an 18-karat gold model. The company hasn't released sales numbers, though researcher IDC estimates that Apple shipped 3.6 million watches in the second quarter, making it the top seller in the emerging smart-wearables market. Apple last week unveiled new finishes and bands for the gadget.
The watch software update, called watchOS 2, is an important release for Apple because it allows more applications from outside developers to work on the device, giving customers additional tools to choose from when they purchase the gadget. The update also provides ways to customize the look of the device, including new faces. The revamped operating system, previewed at an event in San Francisco last week, also adds more travel information, including public transportation options.
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, has delayed the release of software updates in the past. Last year, the company held back the debut of its health- monitoring application because of problems it found prior to release.