For the first time it seems a user will be able to pair Android Wear with an iPhone. The move greatly increases the potential market for the watches and, it seems may pose a challenge to the Apple Watch.
Google announced the news in a blog prior to the Ifa tech show in Berlin, where several new smartwatches will be unveiled.
“All future Android Wear watches, including those from Huawei, Asus, and Motorola will also support iOS, so stay tuned for more.”
It seems that the functions an iPhone user would gain by using Android Wear, are as follows:
- Checking messages, notifications and received phone calls via their wrist
- Using the watches to track the owner’s fitness activities and heart rate, with data logged into the Google Fit service
- Being able to use their voice to make Google search queries
However, to provide some context, the Verge news site, has highlighted some of the features that an iPhone user would lack.
It seems using Android Wear paired with iOS would not be able to run the full range of third-party watch apps, limited ability to customise their wearable to the same degree they could if they owned an Android phone. Further limitations include an inability to reply to text messages via an Android Watch, and the fact it cannot be used to search for a specific song in Apple’s Music service. The latter is highlighted as popular functions that Apple’s own smartwatch can do.
Suggestions argue that demand would be limited because Google is only able to offer a restricted set of features currently. “What this does is give people who don’t want to fork out the premium price for an Apple Watch an alternative,” said Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight. (A leading research consultancy) “It could also appeal to people who want a smartwatch that looks more like a circular-faced classical watch”. “But Apple will always reserve the best features for its own platform, just as we previously saw with Pebble’s watches, which can also connect to iOS but have similar limitations.”
Reports suggest 530 million iPhones have been sold over the past three years. This gives an indication to the size of additional market now open to Android Wear device-makers.
Huawei, Motorola and Asus are expected to show off new Android-powered models, while LG has already announced a “luxe” version of its existing LG Watch Urbane which features a gold body and alligator skin watchstrap. Samsung, will be showing off new watches that use its own Tizen operating system, rather than Android. The Samsung Gear S2 family includes a version that has a built-in 3G data link, meaning it can be used to make calls and get notifications when not paired with a smartphone.