Apple has the iPhone and Apple Watch while Google backs Android smartphones and Android Wear devices. These are extensions of their ecosystems and each have functions or apps that can work across smartphone and wearable. What happens if you want to to use an alternative wearable on your chosen device.
The Apple Watch is exclusive to iOS so it is doubtful if we will ever see it running on Android devices. Google is more open and want users to be able to access Google services and ecosystems regardless of what OS they are using.
Because of this, some Android Wear devices can work on iPhones. While this is good news for iPhone users and gives them a wider choice of wearables to pair with their devices, it isn’t as ideal a pairing as using an Apple Watch, here’s why.
The Apple Watch is fundamentally an extension of the applications and services on iOS enabled iPhones. Apple Watch also has some standalone features like the ability to run some apps independently. You can store audio on the Apple Watch and play this back via Bluetooth headphones while on a run and the health and fitness tracking information on the Apple Watch syncs accurately with Apple’s Health app and HealthKit framework, making it one of the strongest devices for fitness enthusiasts.
Android Wear is quite different in that it doesn’t really run in conjunction to apps. Android Wear relies mostly on Google Now plus embeds a few standalone services like Google Fit Health tracking, messaging and other functions.
Sincw Apple has restrictions on what can work on their OS, Android Wear devices like the ASUS ZenWatch 2, Huawei Watch, Fossil Q Founder, LG Watch Urbane, Moto 360 (2nd Generation), Moto 360 Sport and the Tag Heuer connected smartwatch are a few that can work on an iPhone.
iPhones that support Android Wear watches are the iPhone 5, 5C, 5s, 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus or SE on iOS 8.2 or higher.
Once you’ve installted the Android Wear app on your iPhone, fire it up and select to pair a new device. Enter the given Bluetooth pairing vcode and run through the various prompts. This could include Google Fit data, location, Bluetooth Low Energy settings and a few others depending on the model.
Once this is done, you’ll have an opportunity to update the watch to the latest software and there’s likely an Android Wear tutorial that will explain how to use the watch, short cuts as well as various controls. If you’ve been using you Android Wear watch with an Android phone, you will need to reset it to make it work with the iPhone.
What does Android Wear on the iPhone offer?
Since Apple doesn’t allow competing app stores to work on its devices, this means third-party Android apps that might have wearable applications or complications won’t work.
This pretty much limits functionality to built-in Google apps and services. If notifications are one of the reasons why you use a smartwatch, the good news is that most notifications from your iPhone, regardless of what apps these may be tied to, will likely work on your Android Wear watch.
In my experience with a Moto 360 (2nd Generation) and an iPhone 6S Plus, I received all of my notifications from SMS, imessage, Calendar, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, CNN, NBA Live and CityNews apps among others.
Incoming calls can be answered or dismissed (but you will need to use your phone to talk, since most Android Wear smartwatches don’t offer speakers).
Music controls can work, Apple Music, Spotify and Google Play Music as well as YouTube work but album artwork and other artist details aren’t always transferred accurately. You can also enable the titlt to wake gesture on the Android Wear watches which make it possible to block notifications with a simple gesture.
For health tracking, the Android Wear device will track steps and give basic measurements and metrics from Google Fit but this is strictly limited to the wearable and doesn’t translate to Apple Heatlh, which is a bit of a missed opportunity because the information is already tracked and available.
Where does Android Wear on iOS fall short?
Being a non-native device limits Android Wear smartwatches considerably on the iPhone. While there are a lot of Android apps whose functionality extends to Android Wear, none of these will wort when paired on the iPhone. It is also not possible to rely to texts or emails and even seeing the range of content from a message is limited.
You are able to reply to Gmail messages using your voice via dictation but there’s no way to see or edit what you think the Android Wear watch has transcribed.
“Ok Google’ commands, which are the lifeblood of the Android experience are available but limited to Google searches and actions within the Google apps.
While being able to use Android Wear devices on an iPhone is a good thing, the experience leaves a lot to be desired if you’re used to the full suite of features you can now enjoy using Android Wear in tandem with an Android smartphone. Same goes for Apple Watch users who rely on app-driven experiences and connectivity to the iPhone.
Merging one system’s wearable with another’s smartwatch isn’t always a good thing and makes us realize the benefits of compatibility right out of the box. The good news is that iPhone users who aren’t keen on the Apple Watch, or who prefer the design or style of an Android Wear device, still have basic functionality available to them should they opt to pair it with their iPhone but all indicators point to better interoperability being something of a pipe dream moving forward.