Over the past few years Google has gradually brought all of its core services to Apple’s iOS platform. And the reason for this is simple: Google makes all of its money from data collection and adverts. This is Google’s core business. This is why Android is free for the most part and it is also why Google loves getting its services on iOS.
Apple’s iOS platform is hugely popular. Apple shifts tens of millions of its iPhones and iPads every month, so Google sees the platform –– alongside Android –– as the perfect conduit for its apps and services. And why the hell not? Users benefit and so too does Google. Winner-winner, chicken dinner.
Example: nowadays, even the most hardcore Google-user can switch between iOS and Android without any noticeable affect to their workflow, and the reason for this is because Drive is on iOS, Gmail is on iOS, Google Now is on iOS, Hangouts is on iOS –– you get the picture.
In an interview with The Huffington Post UK, Jeff Chang, product manager for Android Wear was asked about the possibility of Android Wear becoming available on other, non-Android platforms.
“In terms of enabling more people to use Android Wear we're very interested in making that happen. It's not always completely up to us right? There are technical constraints, API constraints so we are trying really hard. It's not 100% under our control.”
So what are the stumbling blocks preventing Android Wear coming to iOS? There are quite a few issues, as it goes. But perhaps the most troubling is that Android Wear applications piggyback off Android applications, which, of course, require an Android phone to function. This is a BIG problem, but it doesn’t mean Google can’t find a work around (even if it is only for things like Google Now, Gmail and Hangouts).
Microsoft's Fitness band works with iOS via a free application that can be installed on the iPhone, however, Microsoft's device is more Nike FuelBand than smartwatch. Still, the same work around might work for Android Wear, in a similar way that you CAN watch Google Play Movies on iPhone, so long as they're purchased outside of Apple's ecosystem.
But even with something like this in place it still doesn't solve all of the problems associated with bringing full support for Android Wear to iOS, as noted by GigaOM: "Developers don’t want to maintain different apps for phones, tablets, TVs and now watches. By making the Android Wear components an extension of a traditional Android app, developers can manage everything in one package. And consumers don’t have to worry about keeping their watch apps up to date: The Android app on their phone or tablet that has Android Wear functionality will manage that.”
Another BIG question is what are Android Wear users actually doing with the platform? If the majority are simply using it to read notifications from things like Hangouts and Gmail, then the case could be made from bringing the platform to iOS with support for just the Google services that are already available on iOS. But, again, this kind of defeats the object of Android Wear. In order for it to be successful it needs to offer the same level of service as it does on Android.
Another question: is there enough demand to warrant such an endeavor? Are smartwatches really all that popular with consumers? A brisk walk around London shows you that people love tablets and phones, and bikes and beards, but you rarely see a Moto 360, LG G Watch or Samsung Gear Live. Will this be the case for the Apple Watch too? There’s no way to tell at the moment, but the overarching thing you CAN say about smartwatches is that they're nowhere near as popular as A LOT of analysts and tech firms would have you believe. Seriously, just have a look around next time you’re out and about.
And what about the platform agnostic... where do they go for their smartwatch fix? Simple: as of right now, if they want a smartwatch, they get a Pebble.