Pairing Android Wearables With the iPhone

A look at the benefits and limitations of Wear OS by Google for iOS

A smartphone next to a smartwatch on a runner's wrist

Guido Mieth / Getty Images

Wear OS by Google (formerly Android Wear) is compatible with the iPhone 5 and newer models and most Android smartwatches. Previously, iPhone users were limited to the Apple Watch, which is well-reviewed, but also pricey. We paired an iPhone with the Moto 360 (2nd gen) smartwatch, and while the experience is in some ways similar to the Android experience, there are some limitations. 

First, you'll need an iPhone 5 or newer (including the 5c and 5s) that's running iOS 9.3 or higher. On the smartwatch side, Google lists the following watches as non-compatible with iPhone: Asus ZenWatch, LG G Watch, LG G Watch R, Motorola Moto 360 (v1), Samsung Gear Live, and the Sony Smartwatch 3. You can pair newer models, such as the Moto 360 2, and models from Fossil, Huawei, Movado, Tag Hauer, and more. 

The Pairing Process

  1. Pairing your iPhone with an Android smartwatch is simple enough. As when using an Android smartphone, you start by downloading the Wear OS app, if you haven't already.

  2. The watch must be charging during the pairing process; this is not the case when pairing with an Android.

  3. In the app, you should see a list of nearby devices, including your smartwatch. Tap that, and the pairing process will start. Both your iPhone and the watch will display a pairing code; make sure they match and then tap pair.

  4. Finally, on your iPhone, you'll be prompted to turn on a handful of settings, and that's it.

Once you've completed the pairing process, your iPhone and Android watch should remain connected when nearby. That is, as long as the Wear OS app is open on your iPhone; if you close the app, you'll lose the connection. (This isn't the case with Android smartphones.)  

What You Can Do With Wear OS for iOS

Now, you will see all of your iPhone notifications on your Android watch, including messaging, calendar reminders, and any other apps that ping you throughout the day. Conveniently, you can dismiss these notifications from your watch. However, you can't reply to text messages, though you can respond (using voice commands) to Gmail messages.

You can use the Google Assistant to search, set reminders, and conduct other tasks, though there are some limitations with Apple apps. For instance, The Verge reports that you can't search for music inside Apple Music as you can with Siri. In short, if you're an iPhone owner who uses a lot of Google apps, you'll have the best experience, since Apple isn't making any Wear OS-compatible apps. You can also download apps from the Play Store from your watch.

On the upside, iPhone users can purchase smartwatches that are much less expensive than the Apple Watch. The downside is that since you're pairing devices from different ecosystems, you'll run into a lot of limitations compared with pairing devices running the same operating system.