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Google wants iPhones to connect to Android Wear smartwatches to save the platform

We like Android Wear. It's simple, it's clean and it works. But that's all you can say about it. While Android leads the mobile industry in terms of functionality and features, Android Wear seems a little left behind. The latest information, however, lets us know that Google has at least been working on adding iOS support in Android Wear so you can use your Android smartwatch with an iPhone.

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Could iOS support really make it into Android Wear? / © ANDROIDPIT

A software developer working on adding iOS support to Android Wear independently has managed to uncover code that seems to prove that Google has been doing the same thing. The code he found that points to iOS support appears in Android Wear 4.4W so there's no telling what's already in Android Wear 5.0.

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Some very interesting tweets from developer @MohammadAG. / © @MohammedAG (Twitter)

This is far from a confirmation that Google will be announcing iPhone support for Android Wear though. Of course, Google has looked at adding iPhone support to Android Wear. LG has done the same with their WebOS-based LG Wearable Platform in the LG Watch Urbane LTE and Pebble has been doing it forever.

The major hurdle facing iOS integration with Android Wear is whether or not Apple would grant permission to the full range of APIs required to make the functionality useful. It may be easy enough to get notifications from an iPhone to show on Android Wear (we've already seen this done) but in order to return messages with your voice, make and receive calls and otherwise utilize Android Wear at its fullest with an iPhone, Apple is going to need to hand over the keys.

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Allowing other platforms to support iPhones might even damage Apple Watch sales. / © Apple

But why would Apple want other wearable platforms supporting iPhones when Apple wants you to buy an Apple Watch? Granting access to iOS for Android Wear only benefits Google (as well as iPhone users that like Android wearables), but it doesn't benefit Apple at all. It would actually be bad for Apple if iPhone users had the option of using other wearables with their iPhone beyond the Apple Watch.

Which brings us back to Android Wear. Apple has a very complex platform on their hands while Android Wear, almost a year old now, has barely been updated. Sure, Android Wear added some new features a while back but Wi-Fi still hasn't been unlocked, it doesn't support NFC payments yet and hasn't exactly taken the world by storm (for example, Pebble has already sold a million watches, whereas Android Wear devices have only shipped – not even sold – around three-quarters of a million).

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Pebble supports all devices and has sold more than all Android Wear smartwatches so far. / © Pebble

Samsung obviously has Tizen as a solid wearable backup, LG has developed its own LG Wearable Platform based on WebOS (itself capable of supporting iOS), Huawei has publicly told Google that Android Wear needs to be customizable, Motorola isn't averse to developing its own platform if Android Wear doesn't improve quickly enough and Asus has already tweaked Wear with its ZenUI.

The message seems to be clear: Google needs to start making some major improvements in Android Wear or they are not only going to lose customers, but also the support of their OEM partners. Google's attempt to recreate with Android Wear what they would like to see in Android (stock only) has clearly not worked as planned. The addition of iOS support would be a big step for Wear, but it would need to be the first of many.

Do you want iOS support in Android Wear? What else does Android Wear need?

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  • ljhaye Mar 19, 2015 Link to comment

    I'm truly confused by Google's strategy for Android Wear this is not the same as the smartphone wars. This is truly about discretionary income and Apple's platform is truly for those that have it. Apple has positioned their watch as a luxury item and not a tech gadget this strategy has caught both Google and its OEMs napping. Android wear feels like Google TV...

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