Google's willingness to cross platforms and port all its apps to iOS devices seems to know no bounds -- and is a pleasant contrast to the format wars that traditionally dominate smartphones. After much speculation, Google announced that Android Wear smartwatches will now work with iOS devices. Previously, iPhone users who wanted a real smartwatch could only look to the Apple Watch or the Pebble. Now Android Wear smartwatches are free game, too.
Android Wear for iOS is rolling out today, August 31, to any iPhone 5, 5C, 5S, 6, or 6 Plus running iOS 8.2 or higher. Android Wear for iOS works only with the LG Watch Urbane at the moment, but future Android Wear watches like those from Huawei, Asus, and Motorola will all support iOS. It's unknown how many older Android Wear smartwatches will gain iOS support. Regardless, Google says all of the upcoming and highly anticipated Android Wear watches will work with iPhones from now on.
Just last week a posting on Amazon for the Huawei Watch hinted that iOS support was forthcoming, and now that's been confirmed.
As with many Google apps, Android Wear will undoubtedly work differently on iOS, depending on app permissions and the nature of Apple's mobile operating system, but most of the key features of Android Wear will work the same way on a smartwatch that's paired to an iPhone as a smartwatch that's paired with an Android phone. Google says that Google Now support will allow for the following Android Wear functions to work effortlessly:
- Info at a glance: Notifications for phone calls, messages, and alerts from your favorite apps will all show up on your Android Wear watch, mirroring the notifications as they hit your iPhone.
- Fitness tracking: You can still set fitness goals, and get daily and weekly views of your activity on your Android Wear smartwatch. It'll automatically track walking and running, as well as heart rate, so long as the watch in question has a heart rate monitor.
- Google Now: Google Now will be as smart as ever on any Android Wear watch that's paired to an iPhone, so you'll get notified when to leave for appointments, how bad the traffic is, your flight status, and more. The classic "Ok Google" voice command will allow you to interact with the watch, ask questions, create to-do lists, and set reminders.
Only time will tell what limitations iOS puts on Android Wear, but based on Google's statements, it seems that it'll be a full-featured experience. Although it may sound counterintuitive for Google to allow Android Wear watches to work with iPhones (and vice versa), Google says it just wants to accommodate its varied user base.
In the closing of its blog post, Google quoted Dr. Seuss and added its own thoughts: "'Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.' We agree. So whoever You are, and whatever You like -- Android Wear lets you wear what you want."