How Android Wear works with iOS: What you need to know (FAQ)

Curious about how Google's Android Wear smartwatches play with the iPhone? Here's what you need to know.

Lexy Savvides Principal Video Producer
Lexy is an on-air presenter and award-winning producer who covers consumer tech, including the latest smartphones, wearables and emerging trends like assistive robotics. She's won two Gold Telly Awards for her video series Beta Test. Prior to her career at CNET, she was a magazine editor, radio announcer and DJ. Lexy is based in San Francisco.
Expertise Wearables, smartwatches, mobile phones, photography, health tech, assistive robotics Credentials
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Lexy Savvides
4 min read

Watch this: Connect Android Wear to your iPhone

Apple users, Android Wear smartwatches are now open for business. Watches running Google's software were only able to be used with Android phones -- until now.

Here are some frequently asked questions about how it all works.

Where can I download the app?

From the App Store. Here's the direct iTunes link. You will need to be running iOS 8.2 or higher on an iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6 or 6 Plus.

What devices are supported?

At the moment, only one Android Wear smartwatch on the market officially works with iOS and that's the LG Watch Urbane. As Google said in its official blog post, all future Android Wear watches will also work with iOS, including the Asus ZenWatch 2 and Huawei Watch.

There is no need to change anything on the Android Wear device, such as performing a system update. It will work straight out of the box.

How do I set up and pair the watch with iOS?

Once you have installed the app on your iPhone, open it up and turn on Bluetooth. The app will then attempt to detect the Android Wear device. You should select the name that matches the one on the watch face. Then, the app will prompt you to pair the phone by entering the code that appears on the watch face.

If your watch cannot find the iPhone or vice versa, perform a factory reset on the Android Wear device and start the process again.

Once both devices are paired, the app will prompt you to sign in to your Gmail account, turn on Google Now, location services and other notification options.

How does messaging work?

For iMessage, Android Wear will be able to display notifications when you receive a new text, as well as show you the contents of that message. However, you're unable to reply to an iMessage from the watch itself. You'll still need your phone for that.

For Hangouts, you can see messages that you have received right on the Android Wear watch face but you can't reply.

Does the same apply for calls?

Yes. At the moment, the Android Wear will notify you when you receive a call on your iPhone. You are able to answer or ignore the call from the watch, but you will need to use the handset itself to talk.

What about email?

When paired with an iPhone, Android Wear lets you receive and read contents of your Gmail messages. From the iPhone app, tap the Settings cog and then Email cards to turn on the Rich Gmail cards toggle. This will allow you to archive, delete or reply to emails from your watch face.

To reply to an email, simply open up the card on the watch screen, swipe across to the reply option, tap it and then choose whether you want to speak your reply or draw an emoji as a response.

If you choose to dictate your response, Android Wear will automatically send the reply without confirming if the transcription was correct.

What restrictions are there compared to using an Android phone?

For starters, there are no third-party watch apps available for download.

The OK Google functionality only lets you search the Internet and set reminders, an agenda/calendar item or an alarm. It does not let you send a Hangouts message, a text message or a chat from your iPhone.

Watch faces are also limited to the curated selection that Google provides within the iPhone Android Wear app.

When you search for something using OK Google from Android Wear, results appear on the watch screen. To read more on your phone, the link will open within the Android Wear app on the iPhone in its own browser rather than in Safari or Chrome.

The watch will also not be able to connect to a Wi-Fi network like if was paired with an Android phone. This feature is handy if you want to leave your phone at home but roam around with your watch in a location with Wi-Fi connectivity. At the moment, this is only available for Android phone owners.

Can I control music on the iPhone from Android Wear?

Yes you can. Once you start playing music on the iPhone, swipe left on the music card that appears on the watch. This will bring up a control pad for fast forwarding or rewinding tracks, as well as turning the volume up and down. It works with apps like Apple Music, Google Play Music and Spotify.

What happens if my iPhone is not connected to the Android Wear?

If the connection is lost between the watch and your iPhone, a small cloud icon with a strikethrough will appear at the top of the screen.

You will still be able to see your step counter, the weather card and the time from the Android Wear device. Alarms and reminders can also be set without an iPhone connected.

Can I pair my Android Wear with an iPad?

No, this feature is not currently supported.

If I dismiss a notification or card on my watch, will it also disappear from my phone?

Yes it will.

This article will be updated as more smartwatches and functionality comes to the iOS Android Wear app.