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Google to make Android Wear devices compatible with iPhones

The search giant may be looking to tread on Apple's turf as consumers look for ways to do more with the Apple Watch.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Google is getting ready to make its Android Wear software, which powers wearable devices like smartwatches, work with Apple's iPhone.

The company will add support for Apple's iOS software and Wi-Fi in the next version of Android Wear, which could come out in the next few weeks, according to a person familiar with Google's plans. Google's plans were first reported by The Verge.

Google declined to comment.

The move would radically expand Google's potential customer base because it would let iPhones work with Android Wear-powered smartwatches. Apple sold 66.5 million iPhones in the last quarter alone. Smartwatches based on Google's Android Wear, which currently only work with other Android smartphones, have had a slow start as consumers question the need for the devices.

Samsung, Sony and Motorola Mobility, which has the market-leading Moto 360 watch, already offer smartwatches based on Android Wear. And at Mobile World Congress in March, LG unveiled the LG Watch Urbane, while Huawei introduced its own Watch with sapphire glass.

Six products running Google's operating system for wearables accounted for 720,000 units, or 15.6 percent of a total of 4.6 million wearable products shipped in 2014, according to research firm Canalys.

But awareness for smartwatches is on the rise thanks to Apple and its Apple Watch. The Watch will be available for fittings and preorders Friday, and will launch on April 24.

Google unveiled Android Wear in March 2014. The platform took center stage at the company's I/O developer conference last year, where the company showed off its ability to integrate with car services or track your heart rate. The team behind Android Wear promised to update the software frequently, as the market expands. In September, the company said it would allow the software to connect with devices via Bluetooth, which lets nearby devices transmit data to each other.

"We're going to iterate much more rapidly here," Vice President of Engineering for Android Hiroshi Lockheimer told CNET in September.