Download: Android Wear App Comes To The iPhone
In a big step roughly a year and a half after its release, Google’s smartwatch OS has finally added support for Apple’s iOS. The companion app has been released to the App Store and can be downloaded for free to your iPhone.
As is the case with most ventures in rival domains, the new app doesn’t provide users with a perfect replica of the original experience, though this is more due to the closed nature of Apple’s mobile OS than Google’s wish to reserve the complete Android Wear experience for users who stay within their ecosystem. The latter wouldn’t make much sense anyway since Google has been making its apps and services available on iOS for quite some time.
Users will be getting most of the core features, but some major extensions will remain cordoned off. The app will send all iPhone notifications to your watch, but you won’t be able to reply or interact with any that aren’t from a Google app, that is, the iPhone app can send you rich notifications from Gmail that will allow you to reply to incoming emails, but to do anything more than view notifications from the iOS Messages app, it would need the king of system-level access that only the Apple Watch enjoys. Similarly, you will be able to view your Google Now cards, use Now voice commands to make search queries or set reminders and Google Fit for fitness tracking.
Any native Android Wear apps, such as Weather and Translate, will be available to use, but third-party apps are a no-go for now. The same goes for watch faces, more or less. You will be able to switch between native watch faces and a few third-party ones hand-picked by Google, which is slightly disappointing considering Google just introduced support for third-party interactive watch faces with the 1.3 update for Android Wear, and the Play Store has already been populated with several impressive choices.
In the official announcement, Google also mentions that the iOS app will only work with upcoming Android Wear smartwatches such as the LG Watch Urbane, Moto 360 2, Huawei Watch and Asus ZenWatch 2, but this ‘restriction’, as it turns out, is likely an indication towards the software that these devices will be running out of the box. Reports from social media suggest that the app runs with older smartwatches the likes of Moto 360 and the LG G Watch R as long as their firmware has been updated to Android Wear 1.3.
Google’s cross-ecosystem smartwatch setup might not be able to compete on equal footing with the Apple Watch, but it does greatly broaden the smartwatch choices that iPhone users will be able to explore from here on out. Frankly, the level of integration Google has been able to achieve with Android Wear for iPhone, comparatively shallow as it may be, is still quite impressive, courtesy of the many apps Google already has on the App Store. And who knows? A future version of iOS might open the required APIs to developers, allowing for deeper Android Wear integration. It’s a stretch, we know.
Download Android Wear for iPhone (App Store)