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Summary:

It may sound obvious that something called “Android Wear” works only with Android devices. But Google Glass is another wearable that does play nicely with iPhones and iPads. Here’s why that’s an unlikely scenario with Android Wear now or in the future.

Google I/O Motorola Moto 360
photo: Signe Brewster

When Google introduced Google Glass, the wearable display only worked with Android phones and tablets. It took some time, but last December Google created a MyGlass companion app for iOS, allowing iPhone owners to get most of the same functionality from Glass as Android users. That’s not likely going to happen with Android Wear, however.

The first clue was when Dave Singleton, Google’s Android Engineering Director, shared more Android Wear details on stage Wednesday at Google I/O. During Singleton’s demo he showed how to order a pizza in under 20 seconds using the EAT24 app, noting that developers could add wearable functions to existing Android apps.

Photo by Janko Roettgers/Gigaom

Photo by Janko Roettgers/Gigaom

That means there’s no Android Wear app store like there is for Google Glass apps. In the MyGlass companion app, for example, you can choose apps called GlassWare to install to your Glass device, regardless if you’re running MyGlass on an Android or iOS devices. That’s a key difference.

Indeed, I later spoke with some folks about Google and learned a little more. Apps for Android Wear aren’t really standalone apps at all. Think of them as extended functionality to Android apps themselves. A developer would then add notifications or features for Android Wear through their own Android app. Those wearable bits get pushed to the watch from the Android app through the Android Wear companion app.

Photo by Janko Roettgers/Gigaom

Photo by Janko Roettgers/Gigaom

This is a smart move because we don’t need yet another app store for another device. Developers don’t want to maintain different apps for phones, tablets, TVs and now watches. By making the Android Wear components an extension of a traditional Android app, developers can manage everything in one package. And consumers don’t have to worry about keeping their watch apps up to date: The Android app on their phone or tablet that has Android Wear functionality will manage that.

Since Android Wear apps are tied so heavily into Android apps themselves, don’t expect to use Android Wear with an iPhone. At least not anytime soon, if ever: The way Google has engineered this makes it pretty much an Android-only play.

  1. Leland Babitch Friday, June 27, 2014

    That’s alright. The Apple iWatch probably won’t support Android when it comes out.

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    1. Travis Sturzl Friday, June 27, 2014

      Nah, I don’t think Apple will invest in this type of wearable. Recent polls showed that most people don’t show interest in this kind of technology. Google’s gonna do it anyway it seems, but I still have some faith in them. They tend to surprise us time after time.

      Supporting Apple products on Android isn’t impossible, because Android is an open product. Even though Apple products are copy righted to Apple, an owner can still modify another device to use an Apple product as long as you don’t infringe on copy rights and distribute changes to Apples product. However Apple doesn’t have this advantage. They’re advantage is people like you who simply enjoy the interface. Both are great companies in my opinion. They push eachother to make some great products, but google’s more me.\

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    2. Travis Sturzl Friday, June 27, 2014

      Nah, I don’t think Apple will invest in this type of wearable. Recent polls showed that most people don’t show interest in this kind of technology. Google’s gonna do it anyway it seems, but I still have some faith in them. They tend to surprise us time after time.

      Supporting Apple products on Android isn’t impossible, because Android is an open product. Even though Apple products are copy righted to Apple, an owner can still modify another device to use an Apple product as long as you don’t infringe on copy rights and distribute changes to Apples product. However Apple doesn’t have this advantage. They’re advantage is people like you who simply enjoy the interface. Both are great companies in my opinion. They push eachother to make some great products, but google’s more me.

      Reply Share