Apple’s watchOS only works with its iOS operating system on the iPhone. Android Wear will work with Android and iOS, and Samsung is big enough to have its ecosystem but its Tizen-powered Gear watches will run on both Android and, more recently, on iOS.
But the new iPhone 7/Plus has many Android wear owners up in arms as their favourite Android Wear watch refuses to pair. The issue seems to be with the ASUS ZenWatch 2, Moto 360 (V2), Moto 360 Sport, TAG Heuer Connected and Fossil Q Founder – all of which worked well on earlier iPhones. It seems related to later Android Wear watches.
The problem has been acknowledged by Google and Apple characteristically refuses to comment. It seems to be a “serious pairing” iPhone hardware issue so it may not be as easy as an update to Android Wear and may require a fix from Apple.
Android Wear is/was the great hope for a standard wearables operating system – after all, 85% of the world uses Android smartphones. To be fair, it is still essentially version one with the next major upgrade slated now for 2017 to handle added features offered by Android Nougat.
So far, about 17 watches have been released from Asus, Casio, Fossil, Huawei, LG, Moto, Polar, Sony, TAG Heuer, Michael Kors, and New Balance.
When I first saw Android Wear it was understandably a little raw in comparison to the rather polished Samsung Tizen. In part, that is because it has to run on many non-Google devices (as Android does) and some have round, square, rectangular and other shaped faces and different hardware. Gradually the silicon makers including Qualcomm, Broadcom, Intel and screen makers have settled on technical standards, so it is up to each manufacturer to add its design and style.
Android Wear 2.0 looks interesting.
- The watch can browse the Android Wear Play Store and install directly (instead of via a smartphone) – this is a huge bonus for iPhone users.
- There are several new API’s for developers to use.
- Different screen shapes are automatically accommodated via an API.
- Smart Reply can be generated entirely from on-watch.
- OK Google works if your device has a microphone (and Bluetooth buds).
- Media controls work from the watch (not bridged to the phone).
- Calls can be answered from the watch (if it has a microphone and audio output).
- Native support for 3/4G and LTE as well as Wi-Fi updates.
- Wrist gestures have been expanded.
- Standardisation on a single physical button with contextual single and double press although two and three buttons will still work.
- Better battery management.
- Vastly improved security and secure data transfer.
- New material design default (can be overridden by the maker).
- Improved Google Fit integration including autosensing.
- Improved iOS integration.