Pairing Android Wearables With the iPhone

A look at the benefits and limitations of Android Wear for iOS

Smartphone and smartwatch

In addition to writing about Android, I also cover iPhone apps, and I recently tested out the Android Wear experience on my iPhone 5. In case you missed it, Google created an Android Wear app for the iPhone so that iOS users can pair their smartphone with Android smartwatches. Previously, iPhone users were limited to the Apple Watch, which is well-reviewed, but also rather pricey. I paired my 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 8.2 or higher. There's currently no support for iPad. 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, Huawei watch, Asus ZenWatch 2, LG Urbane, and more. 

The Pairing Process

Pairing your iPhone with an Android smartwatch is simple enough. As when using an Android smartphone, you start by downloading the Android Wear app, if you haven't already. The watch must be charging during the pairing process; this is not required when pairing with an Android. 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.

Finally, on your iPhone, you'll be prompted to turn on a handful of settings and you're done.

Once you've completed the pairing process, your iPhone and Android watch should remain connected when in close proximity. That is, as long as the Android Wear app is open on your iPhone; if you close the app, you'll lose the connection.

(This isn't the case with Android smartphones.) I didn't notice that my battery drained any faster when using the app, though. 

What You Can and Can't Do

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 reply (using voice commands) to Gmail messages.

You can use Google Now voice commands 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 Android Wear-compatible apps. 

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. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out as smartwatches become more popular.