by Swapnil Bhartiya

First impression: Using my Moto 360 with iPhone 5s

Sep 01, 2015

Google yesterday published the Android Wear app on Apple's App Store and I got it to work on my Moto 360.

Amid rumors about whether Apple would allow it or not, Google has published the Android Wear app on Apple’s App Store. While the app is compatible with all iOS devices running iOS 8.2 or later, including the iPad and the iPod Touch, it is optimized for the iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6, or 6 Plus. Google said in a blog post that the app works only with LG Urbane Watch, but I was able to pair my Moto 360 with an iPhone.

Pairing my Moto 360 with iPhone 5s

Before I go any further, let me state for the record that I am an Android user; I have never owned an iPhone. But in order to test Android Wear on iOS, I purchased a used iPhone 5s.

As noted before, the Android Wear app for iOS only currently supports the LG Urbane Watch. Nonetheless, I was able to pair my Moto 360 with the iPhone 5s easily.

So what can I do on my Moto 360 when it’s severed from my Nexus 6 and hooked to an iPhone 5s? As usual, it works as a decent notification device: I get notifications for new mails, messages and chats. I can use Google search on the watch and then open the results on iPhone. I can check the weather. I can also change watch faces from the iPhone, though I can’t access the faces that I purchased from the Google Play Store.

What I can’t do is reply to messages, chats or email. I also can’t use the navigation, send new messages, compose email, setup alarm, access Google Keep or make phone calls.

Apple Watch vs Android Wear

Since I now have an iPhone, albeit an old one, I am tempted to see how the Apple Watch works for someone like me who has become hooked on smart watches. There are many things that Android Wear can’t do. I despise not being able to make phone calls or read email on my Moto 360.

That said there is one services that keeps Google ahead of Apple — Google Now.

Google Now is what a smartwatch needs

I will share an anecdote with you that illustrates the power and convenience of Google Now. I was traveling to Seattle for LinuxCon and Google Now cards told me to leave the house at particular time to make it to the flight. Then while I was in the car, it pulled another set of info and displayed the QR Code for my boarding pass — I didn’t even have to go through my email.

When I landed in Seattle it helped me pick up a cab. And while I was in the cab, it showed me the confirmation status of my hotel room along with the reservation number. It also told me where to eat! Everything was proactive, I didn’t have to open any app to find any information that I actually needed.

I don’t think Apple has anything that beats it, though they are now working on an a Google Now competitor (gone are the days when Apple was ahead in the game, now they are in the game of catching up with Google). I have played with ‘proactive’ on iOS 9 and while it’s a huge improvement it’s no match for Google Now — at least, not yet (I would wait for the official arrival of iOS 9 before passing any verdict on it).

Will these features come to iOS?

Sadly, I can’t do a lot of things on my Moto 360 when paired with the iPhone 5s instead of Nexus 6. But this is the first iteration of the Android Wear app on iOS. We can expect more features to arrive soon; it may get better. The only thing that may hold it back is Apple’s restriction on what Android Wear can or can’t access on the iOS devices. And if Apple sees Android Wear as a threat they will put the brakes on it.

The question for me is whether to continue to use my Moto 360 with iPhone 5s or move back to Nexus 6. I am torn. I think I will give it some time and wait for a few updates before going back to Nexus 6.