Google announced this morning that it’s developed an iOS app for Android Wear, meaning iPhone users can now use Android smartwatches. This is a big moment in smartwatch world, one a lot of people have eagerly awaited. It means the Apple Watch has some competition, and that there’s suddenly a much larger addressable market for all the companies making Android Wear devices. The app is free, and rolls out today.
With an Android Wear device connected to your iPhone, you’ll be able to do a few things. You’ll get all your notifications, Google Now integration, voice search, and fitness tracking, all right on your wrist.
That’s the good news. And it is good news! But Google’s announcements is riddled with caveats. The Wear iOS app only supports the LG Watch Urbane, along with “all future Android Wear watches.” That’s not a huge problem—everyone who bought an Android Wear device so far presumably owns an Android phone—but it’s a shame there’s not universal support for a device lineup that’s still so new. You’ll also need an iPhone running 8.2 or later.
More problematic is the fact that the Android Wear experience is going to be severely limited on iOS. All the basic stuff will work fine, but there are no third-party apps, and there’s no Wi-Fi support for using your watch when you’re far away from your phone. You’re getting support, yes, but pairing your Android Wear watch with your iPhone is a dramatically reduced experience.