Tempted by Wear OS, watch but have an iPhone? You will get a great experience, but it is not identical with Android users. This is all you need to know.
Apple might not allow Android users to use Apple Watch, but fortunately for iPhone users, Google isn’t too strict. Following a difficult start with Android Wear, Google Unveiled Wear OS, a complete overhaul of the smartwatch operating system, offers enhanced support for iOS users in addition to a number of other benefits.
So, yes, you can use the Wear OS smartwatch with an iPhone, as long as it’s an iPhone 5 or newer running iOS 9 or newer, but it’s not exactly the same experience as what I would get using an Android smartphone. We describe how to use the Wear OS smartwatch with the iPhone here, along with what you get, and more importantly, what you will not get.
Connect the Wear OS to a smart watch to the iPhone
The process of pairing and setting up a smart watch that is activated by Wear OS with an iPhone is very easy – you only need to download the Wear OS By Google application on the App Store. After downloading the application, simply activate the watch, activate Bluetooth on your iPhone (if not already) and open the Wear OS application.
You will then be taken through the installation process, which requires you to choose your watch from the list of nearby devices, and you will need to confirm a passcode on both to verify that you are connected to the correct watch. Not surprisingly, with Google products, you will also be asked to log in to your Google account.
Once connected, you will download and install the available Wear OS updates, ensuring that your smartwatch is truly up to date before you use it.
After the watch is paired and any updates are installed, you will be given a Use tutorial, explaining the basics of using the OS, covering everything from gestures to notifications to using Google Now. Yes, you really can use Google Assistant on iPhone! Just don’t make Siri jealous …
The tutorial for watching is brief, but it’s important to pay attention – especially given the different navigation controls between OS Wear smart watches.
Use Wear OS smartwatch with iPhone
Back when Wear OS was Android Wear, there was basic compatibility with iOS devices, but no more. Fortunately, the release of Wear OS 2.0 back in 2017 changed everything, offering better integration with the iPhone and improved standalone functions as well.
The biggest improvement is the introduction of the original Google Play Store, which allows iOS users to install and use various Android applications as Android users can. There are limits to application availability, with certain applications such as Citymapper not available when paired with an iPhone, but there are many applications available for iOS users. Due to the independent nature of the Wear OS application, there is no need to install the accompanying application on your iPhone – all internet connectivity is handled through the Wear OS apps.
Basically it is the work of the Wear OS application on your iPhone – to act as an intermediary between smart watches and the internet – which means you can’t uninstall after setting your watch. This application is of limited use, it allows you to change basic settings, view battery life, implement new watch features and various other features, but many settings in this application are also available on watches.
Smartwatch Wear OS You can calculate your steps and provide basic activity monitoring through Google Fit, which has been pre-installed on most Android-based smart watches. If you decide to use Google Fit, it’s a good idea to show that you have to download the Google Fit application on your iPhone to access your data – something Android users don’t have to do.
Another big feature, hinted earlier, is the inclusion of Google Assistant on the smartwatch, allowing you to access Google’s virtual assistant on your wrist and Siri on your iPhone. This is a practical hybrid, especially if you have a smart home device that is compatible with Google Assistant but not Siri, or if it is heavily invested into Google’s application systems and services.
There is even an option to use Google Pay on a smartwatch, giving iOS users an alternative to Apple Pay when paying for snacks at the store or using a tube.
As with Apple Watch, you will get all notifications via Wear OS watch – including third-party notifications from people like WhatsApp and Instagram – and as with Apple’s option, ignoring them on a watch will also eliminate them from your iPhone notification center. That is a big complaint from early adopters of Android Wear who want to use their smart watch with their iPhone, so it’s good to see a big improvement in that department.
Limitations on using Wear OS with an iPhone
As you would expect, the iOS experience is a bit more limited than compared to Android users, and this is seen in several forms. The most visible are notifications: while synchronizing notifications between your watch and iPhone is a nice touch, there is little action available – you can’t, for example, reply to text using Watch, you also can’t mark incoming emails as read unless you use the app Gmail on a watch.
This is a story similar to Google Assistant; while it can help with basic questions, it won’t be able to do things like mark tasks done through the Reminder application on your iPhone, or start calls too. This is all locked to Siri, and that may not change anytime soon.
And, as noted above, when you can access a large number of applications through Google Play on a smart watch, you will not get access to the entire Google Play application library – some require companion applications to function, and currently, all three iOS parties the application cannot communicate directly with the Wear OS application. This is Apple’s limitation rather than Wear OS, but still needs attention.
That’s all you need to know about using OS Wear smartwatch with iPhone. The only thing you need to decide now is what you need to get. If you experience difficulties, we recommend that you look at our selected smart watches for inspiration.