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Wearable Tech

iPhone owners can now cheat on Apple with an Android smartwatch

An Android watch paired to an iPhone? The perfect marriage, for some.

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Android Wear 2.0 recently launched, adding new features and a revamped interface to Google's smartwatch platform.

The idea of using an Android Wear watch with an iPhone is admittedly, well, odd. However, with Pebble no longer around, the Android Wear lineup is a worthy alternative to the Apple Watch.

Here's what you need to know about using Android Wear 2.0 with your iPhone.

Requirements

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

In order to use an Android Wear watch with your iPhone you'll need to have an iPhone 5 or newer with iOS 9 and above installed.

A quick way to check if your phone will work is to visit g.co/WearCheck on your phone.

Add your Google account

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

With Wear 2.0, Google treats the watch as a standalone device, and with the addition of the Play Store (more on that in a minute), you will need to add your account to the watch to get the most out of it.

After updating your Android Wear watch to Google's latest and greatest, or during initial setup of a new watch, you'll notice you're now asked to add your Google account to your smartwatch. Follow the prompts in the Android Wear for iOS app to add your account(s) to your watch.

Google Assistant, at your service

google-assistant-lg-watch-sport.gif
Jason Cipriani/CNET

With Android Wear 2.0, this is the first time iPhone owners get to experience Google Assistant.

To use Assistant, long-press the power button on your watch. As with Siri, Assistant listens and takes commands such as "Start a timer." Alternatively, you can ask questions, get directions or start a workout with Google Fit through Assistant.

In the Settings section of the Android Wear app there's an Assistant listing, however, tapping on it does absolutely nothing. Based on the same settings in the Android version of the app, you should have a series of options to set up smart home devices you can control with Assistant. Hopefully Google releases an update to this issue.

Get apps

With Android Wear 2.0, you can install apps directly on a watch, instead of relying on a paired smartphone to install an app or service.

That means the Play Store is built directly into the watch, where you can search and browse through Android Wear 2.0 apps and watch faces.

There isn't a method to browse the Play Store on your iOS device, however you can browse the Play Store on your computer, then remotely install apps on your Android Wear 2.0 watch after clicking on Install.

In order to install apps on your watch, you'll need to have it connected to Wi-Fi.

Connect to Wi-fi

Instead of letting your watch rely on the Bluetooth connection to your iPhone -- which can run into issues whenever iOS kills apps to free up memory -- make sure to connect your Android Wear watch to your Wi-Fi network.

Doing so allows will let your watch continue to work without your iPhone nearby, continuing to receive things like Gmail notifications until you can relaunch the app on your phone.

To connect a watch equipped with Wi-Fi capabilities to your network, open Settings > Connectivity > Wi-Fi > Add network. Select the network you want to connect to, then use your phone to enter the password when prompted.

No Android Pay -- yet

Google had originally hinted that Android Wear 2.0 would bring its mobile payment platform, Android Pay, to iOS devices. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite ready for launch. Google has told me they are hard at work on making Android Pay available on iOS, and will release it as soon as possible.

Dealing with notifications

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Notifications are a big draw for smartwatch buyers, and in order to provide the best experience given Apple's limitations on iOS, Google has tweaked how some apps work.

Specifically, you will find that Gmail notifications are done independently of any email app you have installed on your iPhone. Instead, your watch checks email on its own and uses a built in Gmail app to display and interact with new messages. In turn, notifications from Apple's Mail app are blocked from showing up on your wrist by default.

You can block specific apps, or disable Gmail's rich notification functionality in the Android Wear app under the Settings icon.

If an app isn't blocked but you aren't receiving notifications on your watch, open your iPhone's Settings app, then select Notifications. Open the Notification setting for the app you're having trouble with, then make sure Show in Notification Center is turned on.

Somewhat limited

The overall experience when using an Android Wear watch with your iPhone is a bit limited when you compare the experience to an Android phone. That said, there's still a lot of overlap in functionality.

We recently covered the best tips to get the most out of the latest OS for your Android Watch here. Make sure to read through for tips on navigating and quickly changing watch faces on your watch.

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