Your (Next) Android Wear Watch Will Connect To The iPhone
Google announced this morning that it’s developed an iOS app for Android Wear, meaning iPhone users can now use Android smartwatches. This is a big moment in smartwatch world, one a lot of people have eagerly awaited. It means the Apple Watch has some competition, and that there’s suddenly a much larger addressable market for all the companies making Android Wear devices. The app is free, and rolls out today.
With an Android Wear device connected to your iPhone, you’ll be able to do a few things. You’ll get all your notifications, Google Now integration, voice search, and fitness tracking, all right on your wrist.
That’s the good news. And it is good news! But Google’s announcements is riddled with caveats. The Wear iOS app only supports the LG Watch Urbane, along with “all future Android Wear watches.” That’s not a huge problem—everyone who bought an Android Wear device so far presumably owns an Android phone—but it’s a shame there’s not universal support for a device lineup that’s still so new. You’ll also need an iPhone running 8.2 or later.
More problematic is the fact that the Android Wear experience is going to be severely limited on iOS. All the basic stuff will work fine, but there are no third-party apps, and there’s no Wi-Fi support for using your watch when you’re far away from your phone. You’re getting support, yes, but pairing your Android Wear watch with your iPhone is a dramatically reduced experience.
Google says “we’ll continue to develop the iOS experience,” but you shouldn’t hold your breath. Even when Apple technically supports a smartwatch—the Pebble lineup most notably so far—it always comes at a cost. So much of the Pebble’s appeal comes from its endless extensibility, the way you can customize and tailor every tiny setting to your exact specifications. On Android, the whole Pebble kitchen is at your fingertips; iOS is like a prix fixe menu where you get what they offer and if you don’t like it… well, tough.
The Apple Watch is still young, and Apple has exactly zero reason to change its policy. The Apple Watch’s tight integration with your phone’s sensors, apps, and settings is a huge part of its ongoing appeal. Without the same access, Android Wear will have a tough time competing with some of the Watch’s most remarkable features. Using Android Wear will be like using the Google app on your iPhone—it’s very good, but it’s siloed. It’s not integrated into every corner of the operating system, able to control your apps or complete complex tasks.
The silver lining in all this is the basics are what really make a smartwatch great for most people, and that most of the best things about Android Wear are coming directly from Google—and thus should continue to work with iOS. And even if the platform integration doesn’t improve, the watch selection is going to.
Whether it’s the Huawei Watch, the upcoming Moto 360, Google’s high-end partnership with Tag Heuer, or any of the dozens of other Android Wear devices surely in the works, the smartwatch is undergoing a remarkable and rapid evolution. (Also, with Android Wear, the screen is always on. That’s a nice change from the Apple Watch.) Someday—hopefully soon—these will be devices you want to wear, no matter what they do. At that point, getting some extra functionality on your wrist is just gravy.
We’re not there yet. But a little competition could go a long way.
Link to article –