It appears that Google is on a mission to have as many wearable devices powered by its Android Wear mobile operating system used by as many people as possible. The company is even willing to go into enemy territory in order to do so, or as suggested by early reports. Well, it turns out the rumors are true, as the tech giant recently revealed that smartwatches that run on Android Wear can now actually work with Apple's iPhone devices.
This will undoubtedly be a surprise for many. Until today, smartwatches that run on Android Wear -- the mobile operating system that Google developed for wearable devices, and currently powering smartwatches made by Samsung, LG, and Motorola -- only primarily work with Android run smartphones.
But now that Google has made Android Wear smartwatches compatible with iPhones, the company could potentially boost its customer base. In the previous quarter alone, there were 47.5 million iPhones sold around the world. If Google can manage to penetrate even a small percentage of that number, it would still be a win for Android Wear by any measure.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Apple users, after all, are somewhat a brand loyal bunch -- if iPhone users are thinking of getting a smartwatch, they will most likely be thinking of buying an Apple Watch. Secondly, purchasing an Apple Watch is kind of the “in” thing to do these days -- Apple’s smartwatch of course did not just become the world’s most popular wearable device for nothing.
And Android Wear, despite being made by Google, is actually still struggling to take off with the masses. According to market research firm Canalys, out of a total volume of 4.6 million wearable devices shipped last year, only 720,000 of them are those powered by Android Wear. Suffice it to say that Google’s OS for wearable devices needs to gain some steam.
As of now, there are still some limitations on how Android Wear functions with iPhone devices. For starters, iPhone owners will not be able to connect their Android Wear smartwatches to a Wi-Fi network, but instead only be able to use a cellular connection. The ability to connect to a W-Fi network would really be handy, especially when a user is going to an area with a solid signal and want to leave his or her smartphone behind.
Furthermore, iPhone owners will not be able to access the 4,000 Android Wear apps from Google Play -- like Tinder or Pinterest, for instance -- via their Android Wear smartwatches. The smartwatches though will be able to show notifications iPhone owners would get on their handset, including notifications from any app the user has downloaded there.
Also, it should be noted that only newer Android Wear smartwatches will be able to connect to iPhone devices. As of this writing, the first smartwatch that is compatible is the LG Watch Urbane. Upcoming smartwatches from Motorola, Huawei, and Asus are expected to work with iPhones. Lastly, only iPhone models not older than the iPhone 5 and powered by iOS 8.2 (or newer) are compatible.
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