The Apple Watch is available at select stores in select countries, but this week the internet was bombarded by numerous reviews taking aim at the company’s first new product in five years. In short, it’s not very good – fitting into the mantra that first-generation Apple products never quite get it right. Seems like almost the perfect time for Google to capitalise, and they’re doing just that.
Sources close to The Verge have detailed how Google is close to making their Android Wear platform operational with Apple iPhone devices. This would open up a completely new market for the Apple Watch to compete with, as the only other smartwatch functional with the iPhone is the Pebble (and recently launched Pebble Time). It’s also a market that significantly cheaper the Apple Watch.
But just how plausible is it? In its current state Android Wear devices work with iPhones via a companion app, which is only really able to send some notifications between the devices. There’s no support for fitness tracking, integrated replies to notifications and so on, but it appears Google has been working on it since Android 4.4. Considering we’re currently seeing the rollout of Android 5.0 Lollipop, that’s a pretty long, invested project by now.
It’s not impossible either, since Pebble have already figured out how to get their own watches working across both platforms with identical functionality. The real obstacle here is whether Apple will even allow it. Apple restricts apps that have any mention of competition, so it’s going to be pretty difficult for an Android Wear app to get any sort of approval from their side.
And since they have the power to restrict any sort of companion app required for pairing, Apple could effectively lock out Google from this new market entirely if they wish. If there’s nothing to benefit Apple in this venture, why would they allow a cheaper, sometimes more efficient product to encroach on their ground for free?
Predictably, Apple isn’t ready to comment on this all just yet – but the prospect of Android Wear pushing out the Apple Watch must be frightening.
Last Updated: April 10, 2015