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article imageGoogle brings Android Wear smartwatches to the iPhone

By James Walker     Sep 1, 2015 in Technology
Google has announced that Android Wear smartwatches are now compatible with Apple's iPhone, releasing an official app to make pairing simple. Many features work the same as when connected to an Android phone but there are some major caveats.
Google says the app requires iOS 8.2 or higher running on an iPhone 5 or newer. An important note for owners of existing Android Wear devices is that it currently only works with the LG Watch Urbane.
That's quite an important limitation but one Google says will be mitigated in the future. All new Android Wear devices, including watches from Asus, Motorola and Huawei, will be compatible with iOS. It remains to be seen whether support for more existing devices will be added over the next few months.
Android Wear owners who do own a compatible watch and iPhone will be able to do many of the same things that they can with an Android phone paired to the device. Notifications, messages and calls will all arrive on the watch and "OK Google" voice commands will work as expected. Essentially, the majority of Google features and services will operate with no discernible difference in functionality between iOS and Android.
The app also supports fitness tracking and heart rate measuring. Users can view daily and weekly progress and set goals, just like with an Android phone. The watch face can be changed too, albeit only to a curated selection of compatible ones.
Unfortunately for owners who were wanting more, that's currently the extent of Android Wear's iOS capabilities. Although the feature set is actually very healthy considering it’s a port to a rival locked-down system, limitations in Apple's APIs mean Google cannot do much more, including direct interactions with any other apps on the iPhone.
Posting Facebook or Twitter updates is currently out of the question. The company is continuing to work on iOS compatibility so more features may be added in the future but Google may not be able to get much more from iOS using just a Bluetooth connection.
It's still an important evolution of Android Wear though. The platform has suffered since the launch of the Apple Watch but is now taking the fight directly to iOS.
Google expects Android Wear watches to retail at $100-$400. The Apple Watch starts at $350 and then quickly rockets skywards so Google has a chance of stealing some purchases from people who want a smartwatch but just can't afford the native Apple option.
The Verge notes that the existence of this Android option indicates an unusual relaxation of Apple's App Store restrictions. Traditionally, apps that mention any reference to Android have been banned and removed. How Google managed to get the rather obvious "Android Wear" approved is currently unknown and a bit of a mystery, representing an unusual Apple decision to allow some hardware and brand diversity.
More about Google, Apple, Android, android wear, Ios
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