Google dropped a big announcement in wearables on their official blog today — from now on, all smartwatches running Android Wear will work with iOS, making it a little harder for Apple to corner its own wearable market while opening up a whole lot of potential customers to Google’s hardware buddies.
As of today, only the LG Watch Urbane is compatible with Android Wear for iOS, a new iOS app that will get iPhones to work with Android Wear devices. Once that app is installed, users will be able to get iPhone notifications on their Android Wear devices, while using Google Now directly from the smartwatch like usual. That said, not that much else will work as usual in this unusual marriage — no Google Play on iOS, so any third-party apps developed with Android Wear in mind will never be available for people using Android Wear for iOS on their iPhones. You also won’t be able to use things like Google Maps, so it’ll be a heavily restricted experience.
Instead, using Android Wear for iOS will turn the normally powerful Android Wear smartwatches into their budget cousins, capable of only notifications, fitness tracking, and voice search. That’s not too compelling when put up against what you get when you pair an Apple Watch to an iPhone, or an Android Wear watch to an Android phone, for that matter. Android Wear for iOS might drive a few sales, but as long as Apple is as restrictive as they are about third party apps working with their devices, Apple is going to continue to dominate its own market of iPhone owners with the Apple Watch.