Making good on rumors we heard a few months ago, The Verge is reporting that Google has brought its Android Wear companion app to iOS devices, where it facilitates the connection between the watch and the phone – just as it does on an Android device.
We’ve seen a lot of speculation about just how Android Wear would, or even could, work on iOS ever since the first Android Wear devices and their Android-only nature were revealed to the world last year. While Google at the time claimed that the notification sync system was very specific to Android, a number of developers have claimed that the protocol used to pass notifications over the Bluetooth connection is probably not that difficult to work out. In the intervening year we’ve also seen a number of workarounds that allow you to connect the watches to Apple devices, with varying degrees of complexity and success.
Google has worked within the tools available to them on iOS to bring most of the expected Android Wear functionality to Apple’s platform. You’ve got notifications, Google Now cards, music playback controls, Google Fit and even some voice commands. You don’t get actual apps (beyond the ones Google actually provides and facilitates the communications to support), or a wide variety of watch faces (but there’s a few third party watch faces in there still). That’s a start, and Google wants to make it better over time.
For now, Google’s chosen to make 3 watches (the LG Watch Urbane, Huawei Watch and Asus Zenwatch 2, only one of which you can actually buy right now) compatible with the iOS Android Wear app. Theres a typically-Google puzzling reason for this that comes down to software updates for existing devices, which is a bit disappointing — with some of the original Android Wear devices frequently available for under $100 at Australian retailers, it would be nice to see some super-cheap competition for the Apple Watch. It points to some additional work needing to be done on the Android Wear OS side to accommodate iOS, but it also might not bode well for future software updates for some of those older devices.
The smartwatch landscape now has a few interesting cross-platform players, with both Pebble and Android Wear (as well as a number of smaller players) supporting multiple platforms in various capacities while Samsung (save for the Gear Live) and Apple remain steadfastly locked into their own ecoystems.
Reports from the US say the app is rolling out on iOS today, so if you own an Apple device and have a hankering for LG’s Watch Urbane, you know what to do.
The scratched heads around leaked Huawei Watch specifications listing both Android and iOS compatibility appear to have been solved. Let the invasion commence.
Update: 9to5Google reports that other watches including the original G Watch and G Watch R (both from LG) are working just fine, which makes Google’s originally statements around compatibility even more puzzling.
Apple users! We know you’re out there. Which Android Wear watch would you like to pair with your iPhone? Tell us in the comments below.