And just like that, Google has changed the smartwatch marketplace, hopefully for the better. Last week, we brought you the interesting news that the Amazon product listing for the Huawei Watch mentioned support for Apple devices running iOS 8.2 or above. Now we had previously heard rumors about support for Android Wear devices coming to iPhones in the past, but they were just that: rumors. And the iOS 8.2 bullet point could have just as easily been an typing entry error, as it’s something that often happens when product listings are created for sites like Amazon.
However, as we have learned this morning, this was no mistake. Apple’s iPhone will now support Android Wear smartwatches thanks to Google’s official Android Wear app for iOS. To take advantage of the growing list of Android Wear devices, you will first need an iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6, or 6 Plus running [of course] iOS 8.2 or above.
Once paired with your iPhone, Google says that the following tasks will be immediately available on your compatible Android Wear smartwatch:
- Get your info at a glance: Check important info like phone calls, messages, and notifications from your favorite apps. Android Wear features always-on displays, so you’ll never have to move your wrist to wake up your watch.
- Follow your fitness: Set fitness goals, and get daily and weekly views of your progress. Your watch automatically tracks walking and running, and even measures your heart rate.
- Save time with smart help: Receive timely tips like when to leave for appointments, current traffic info, and flight status. Just say “Ok Google” to ask questions like “Is it going to rain in London tomorrow?” or create to-dos with “Remind me to pack an umbrella.”
Now there are of course some caveats with Google’s newfound attraction to the iPhone. Given that Google doesn’t have nearly as much access to the inner working of iOS as Apple, Android Wear watches won’t be able to perform as many tasks as an Apple Watch paired with an iPhone. In addition, only the ASUS ZenWatch 2 (which was announced, but hasn’t yet been released), the Huawei Watch (which launched next month in the United States) and the LG Watch Urbane (which is available now) support iPhone pairing… for now. However, all future Android Wear hardware releases (and we’re assuming the second generation Moto 360) will support the iPhone.
This is all exciting news for iPhone owners that have looked longingly at round-faced smartwatches like the Motorola 360 and Huawei Watch. Android Wear on the iPhone might not given you the exact same experience that you would fine with an Android smartphone/Android Wear or iPhone/Apple Watch pairing, but it’s a “good enough” solution that will likely appeal to many.