Android wear iOS. Android Smart Watches With iPhone: Compatibility & Functions

Android Smart Watches With iPhone: Compatibility Functions

Apple Watch or another Smart watch? Every iPhone user, who wants to buy an intelligent watch, will wonder about this question. There are many arguments for an Apple Watch, for example, the unrestricted use with an iPhone. However, if we are looking at the price, the competitor’s products with Android Wear by Google are more appealing. Can you use and control these watches with the iPhone without problems? We explain what Android Wear features you can use in iOS.

Prerequisites for Android Wear

The most popular operating systems on the current Smart watch market are watchOS and Android Wear. Whereas Apple uses its own software exclusively for their watches, Google offers its competing product to big manufacturers such as Samsung, Polar, Asus, Huawei, or LG. The prerequisite for connecting Android Wear with the iPhone is a usage of iOS 8.2 or later. There are no restrictions for the Smart watch. Earlier, as well as later models can be connected to iPhones.

Android Wear features on the iPhone

In order to connect an iPhone with Android Wear, you will at least need the free Android Wear app. The following features are the only ones that you can set on the Smart watch using iOS:

  • Watch face: You can customize the watch face so that you can add information from apps and actions, which you can access by swiping.
  • Push notifications for calls, SMS, messages and app notifications
  • Fitness tracking: Step counter, distance meter, calorie counter and heart rate monitor for running, biking and walking, as well as fitness goals
  • Google Assistant: If you know the voice assistant from Android smartphones, you will notice the difference to the iPhone. You can only answer Gmail messages and create events in your calendar. You cannot make a call.

If you compare these features with the advertised features of your Smart watch, you will realize that you cannot even use the half of the features with an iPhone. In addition, the instability of the app creates even more problems. Depending on the Smart watch model, notifications appear arbitrary and regular errors happen. Besides these problems, you have to open the app on your iPhone all the time, otherwise, the watch cannot synchronize. In our own test with the Polar Watch M600, we made these experiences. Only a fraction of the features was available for iPhones.

Many manufacturers offer an own app so that you can use some more features, if available. So if you decide for an Android Wear watch, you should install both apps.

No Apple Health synchronization

The fitness tracker features can be accessed in iOS, but you cannot synchronize the data with Apple Health. Therefore, if you want to record your burned calories or traveled distances, you have to enter the data manually into the app.


If you are looking for a full-featured Smart watch for your iPhone, you will not be happy with Android Wear in the long run. If you only want to use the Smart watch as a fitness tracker that also can display push notifications from your smartphone, you will be fine with an Android Wear watch. The Apple Watch remains the best Smart watch for iPhone users.

Wear OS buyer’s guide: What you need to know about Google’s smartwatch platform

This article contains everything you need to know about Google’s Wear OS smartwatch operating system. We walk you through various features and buying guidelines, as well as round up the best Wear OS smartwatches you can find. Strap in, because there is a lot to talk about.

What is Wear OS?

Wear OS is a smartwatch operating system created and maintained by Google. It was announced on March 18, 2014, as Android Wear, and rebranded as Wear OS on March 15, 2018. Wear OS is an Android-based operating system that receives semi-regular feature and security updates, just like the version of Android that powers billions of smartphones around the world.

Google officially announced its flagship, in-house wearable in the form of the Google Pixel Watch in May 2022, and the device hit shelves in October of the same year. Google also allows hardware partners to create their own smartwatches running the Wear OS operating system. A number of smartphone OEMs — including Samsung, LG, Motorola, Asus, Sony, and Huawei — were the first companies to create Wear OS watches. Now, most watches are made by fashion brands and various watchmakers, such as Fossil Group, Mobvoi, Tag Heuer, Montblanc, Casio, and others. However, not only Wear OS watches have access to the most recent version of Wear OS.

Why buy a Wear OS smartwatch?

First and foremost, just like Android itself, the operating system offers choice. You get a similar software experience on any device you buy, but the hardware can vary drastically. Google’s hardware partners consist of tech companies, traditional watchmakers, fashion brands, fitness companies, and more. This is in stark contrast to the operating system’s biggest competitor — the Apple Watch — which has nearly the same hardware no matter which generation you buy.

Wear OS watches come in all different shapes and sizes. You can buy a cheap plastic watch if you’re on a budget, a nice stylish watch from a fashion company if you want to wear your watch at the office, or even a top-tier luxury Wear OS watch if money is of no concern to you. Buying a smartwatch for thousands of dollars isn’t recommended, but it represents the idea that the platform is versatile.

The simple fact that Google makes both Android and Wear OS is also a selling point. If you use Android, it’s the obvious smartwatch platform to try out. All of your notifications, (most of) your apps, and your data will all be tightly integrated into Wear OS, as your phone and your watch run on the same underlying Android platform.

What’s the deal with Wear OS 3?

Wear OS has gone through many iterations in its lifetime, and the biggest change came in 2021. Google and Samsung announced Wear OS 3, a co-developed operating system that first appeared on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.

Samsung held exclusive rights to the operating system until late 2022 when it became available for other smartwatch makers. Fossil Gen 6 watches for example received the updated operating system. But not all watches are eligible and some eligible Wear OS 3 watches are still waiting. The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra and TicWatch E3, for example, run Wear OS 2.23 out of the box but are eligible for Wear OS 3 and are still waiting for an update.

Google and Samsung built Wear OS 3 with performance, battery life, and customization in mind. Smartwatch OEMs can now customize Wear OS with a software skin, just like they can with Android proper. A shining example of this is Samsung’s One UI Watch software overlay on the Galaxy Watch 4 or Galaxy Watch 5 series. It looks similar to what you’d see on a Samsung smartphone. You can expect similar customizations from companies like Motorola, OPPO, and others in the future.

Wear OS 3’s user interface is a bit different from Wear OS 2’s. A swipe up from the watch face pulls up the all-apps drawer, while a swipe down shows your quick settings — just like your smartphone. Swiping left and right will shuffle through Tiles, which are glanceable screens of information from different apps and services.

Google also claims apps launch up to 30% faster than they did on Wear OS 2.23, and battery life should be improved across the board as well. Speaking of apps, Google has already brought all-new redesigns of some of its most popular apps to Wear OS 3. Both a new Google Maps experience and a new YouTube Music are now available.

The latest version of Google’s operating system, Wear OS 3.5 integrates certain Fitbit staples into the company’s Pixel Watch such as the Today app (your daily activity summary), exercise modes, Active Zone Minutes, and on-wrist celebrations when you hit a goal. As mentioned, manufacturers can add a custom interface on top of the operating system so the platform won’t look identical on every Wear OS smartwatch.

What experts think of Wear OS products

We have lots of Wear OS product reviews on our website. Because there are dozens of Wear OS watches, we haven’t reviewed them all, but we always make it a point to check out the most popular devices.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro are our picks for the top Wear OS watches you can buy. These watches offer the best Wear OS has to offer on classy devices with premium builds.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro are the best Wear OS watches you should consider buying right now.

The base model Galaxy Watch 5 brought some polish to the lineup, incrementally building on the success of the previous generation (which we already loved). The Pro model adds an even stronger build, a bigger battery, and solid new hiking and navigation features. We loved the look and comfort of the device during our Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review, including its classy new D-buckle clasp.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic are still two great picks for a Wear OS watch if you don’t mind skipping the newest model. They both run Samsung and Google’s co-developed Wear OS. In our Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 review, we noted Samsung’s excellent hardware and long battery life, especially in the larger-sized models. Plus, Samsung significantly improved its heart rate sensor, making the Galaxy Watch 4 a solid workout device.

For the purest version of Wear OS 3.5, the Google Pixel Watch is now available. The device offers a modern aesthetic and comfortable build, plus unique integration with Fitbit. During our Pixel Watch review period, we felt there was a lot of potential for future iterations, but that the first generation can use some work. Namely, battery life leaves a lot to be desired.

Fossil Gen 6 devices should also be on your shortlist of smartwatches to consider. These devices come in a ton of colors and styles, as well as multiple sizes. The Fossil Gen 6 heart rate monitor and SpO2 spot-checks proved accurate in our testing, though the watch can only last about a day on a single charge. importantly, it’s now running on the latest Wear OS as well. Fossil also released a Wellness Edition for more dedicated health tracking.

Another solid Wear OS smartwatch that’s guaranteed to receive the update is the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra. It builds on the already-great TicWatch Pro 3 from 2020. It’s more durable thanks to its MIL-STD-810G rating, and it comes with the latest internal specs you can get. Again, be mindful that this watch hasn’t yet received the significant Wear OS 3 update as of this writing.

We also reviewed the Mobvoi TicWatch E3, one of our top picks for a cheap Wear OS smartwatch. Our reviewer praised the TicWatch E3 for its solid hardware, IP68 rating, and decent battery life. However, this is a cheaper device we’re talking about, so some of Mobvoi’s cost-cutting measures are prevalent in the strap quality. It also may not be the watch for you if you’re looking for a workout companion.

What our readers think of Wear OS products

We asked you in mid-October 2021 about your thoughts. Out of over 3,000 total votes, ~34% of our readers said they love Wear OS 3 so far, 28% said they like the software overall, and just over 33% said it’s just okay. Fewer than 4% of our readers said they don’t like it at all, while.6% said they hate it.

We’ve also asked you about other smartwatch operating systems. When we polled our readers about which operating system their next smartwatch would run, over 2,500 readers chimed in with their thoughts.

Nearly 50% of the votes went to Wear OS 3, showing that new buyers are very interested in Google’s platform. A not-so-close second went to Apple watchOS with 16.4% of the votes. All the other smartwatch operating systems landed quite low on the scale. Zepp OS, which ships on various Amazfit smartwatches, garnered nearly 7.5% of the votes. Fitbit OS and Garmin’s operating system tied with 5.8% of the votes, Samsung’s Tizen only received 5.2% of the votes, and Huawei’s Lite OS received only 3.6% of the votes.

Buying the right Wear OS smartwatch for your needs

When buying a Wear OS smartwatch, it’s important to know what you want and need. Spending extra money on features you don’t want doesn’t make sense, but you also don’t want to buy something that doesn’t have the features you need.

  • The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Classic are the best Wear OS smartwatches you can buy. They’re running the latest software, have decent battery life, and offer accurate fitness- and health-tracking features.
  • The Fossil Gen 6 is the best Wear OS watch for customization. It’s available in two sizes and many different styles, so you’re bound to find one that suits your needs.
  • The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra is the best Wear OS watch for extended battery life. Thanks to its dual AMOLED FSTN display, the watch can not only last up to 72 hours in “regular” mode but extend its longevity to 45 days in “essential mode.”
  • The Mobvoi TicWatch E3 is the best cheap Wear OS watch right now. It’s available for just 200 and offers many of the features you’ll find on more expensive TicWatch devices.
  • The Google Pixel Watch is the best Wear OS watch if you want a blend of Wear OS and Fitbit experiences. It’s not a perfect device, but it’s the only option for this level of integration.

What smartwatch features do Wear OS watches offer?

Think of Wear OS like an Android phone: each watch comes with a basic set of features out of the box. You can then supplement the experience by downloading third-party applications, games, and watch faces. All Wear OS watches offer access to the Google Play Store and Google Assistant, in addition to other Google apps like Gmail, Google Messages, Maps, and more.

Wear OS watches are compatible with Android phones running Android 6.0 and above (excluding Android Go phones). Wear OS 2.23 watches are compatible with iPhones running iOS 11.4 and above, while Wear OS 3.5 does not support iOS. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but you’ll get the best experience if you use an Android phone. Without further ado, let’s round up all the smartwatch features Wear OS has to offer:

  • Smartphone notifications: You receive the same app notifications on your device as you do on your smartphone. If a Telegram message arrives on your phone, it’ll show up on your smartwatch too. Same with Gmail, Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, or any other app. You can reply to messages from your wrist using either voice dictation (easy method) or using the on-screen keyboard (advanced method). Also, swiping notifications away from your Wear OS device also clears them on your phone.
  • Voice assistants: Most Wear OS smartwatches offer access to Google Assistant. You can trigger Google Assistant by saying the “Okay, Google” or “Hey, Google” hotwords or usually by a long press of a physical button on your watch. Fossil’s latest Wear OS devices are compatible with Amazon Alexa.
  • On-wrist phone calls: You can answer phone calls right from your wrist on some Wear OS smartwatches. Watches with this feature have a built-in microphone and speaker and need to be connected to a nearby smartphone. No matter what Wear OS device you have, you’ll be able to accept and reject incoming calls from your wrist, too.
  • Contactless payments: Most Wear OS watches support Google Pay, the company’s contactless payment system. Google Pay on these devices is straightforward to use and only takes a few minutes to set up. Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 5 series devices also support Samsung Pay.
  • Music streaming and offline music playback: Wear OS smartwatches usually come with 4-8GB of onboard storage, which you can use to download music for offline listening. Wear OS now supports music downloads from popular music services like Spotify and YouTube Music. We also recommend an app called NavMusic, which lets you easily download local music files to your watch.
  • How to download music from Spotify to your Wear OS watch
  • How to download YouTube Music to your Wear OS smartwatch for offline listening

The Wear OS user interface is quite simple. Your main screen is your watch face. Swipe over to the leftmost page to find your notifications. For an all-apps drawer swipe up, or swipe down from the watch face to access your quick settings.

Swipe to the left, and you’ll find tiles — a basic version of Android widgets, which give you quick, glanceable access to your most-used apps. Google recently opened up the Tiles API to third-party developers, so you should see more tiles from your favorite apps show up on your watch in the coming months.

What fitness tracking features do Wear OS devices have?

Because there is so much variation in Wear OS hardware, fitness tracking features vary depending on the smartwatch. Below is a list of health metrics Wear OS devices track. Some devices track all of these metrics, while other watches only track basic things.

  • Steps: Every Wear OS smartwatch tracks your steps taken throughout the day.
  • Distance: Wear OS watches track your distance traveled throughout the day, as well as during exercises like cycling, running, and swimming. Some watches have standalone GPS, which enables them to track distance accurately without a phone nearby. Some less fitness-focused watches have connected GPS, which uses a connected smartphone’s GPS to calculate distance.
  • Floors climbed: Using a barometric altimeter, most Wear OS watches can track your floors climbed or elevation throughout the day.
  • Calories: Wear OS watches track your caloric burn during rest and during exercises.
  • Heart rate: As long as your device watch has an optical heart rate sensor, it will track your active and resting heart rate. Many of these watches can also alert you to high/low heart rate readings during periods of rest.
  • Sleep: Wear OS watches can natively track your sleep duration, stages (light, deep, and REM), and disturbances. Some watches will also give you a sleep score based on how well you slept on any given night. You can also download a sleep tracking app if you’re not a fan of tracking in Google Fit.
  • Snoring: In very specific cases, your Wear OS watch can even keep track of your snoring.
  • Blood oxygen saturation (SpO2):Pulse oximetry is all the rage nowadays, and various Wear OS watches can keep track of it. Usually, watches allow you to perform SpO2 spot checks throughout the day, as opposed to them continuously tracking the metric. Some devices are also able to track SpO2 levels throughout the night while you’re sleeping.
  • Move Minutes and Heart Points: Google Fit prioritizes two metrics that you won’t find anywhere else: Move Minutes and Heart Points. “Move Minutes” are basically the number of minutes you’re active, and “Heart Points” are earned when you perform activities at a higher pace. Google worked with the American Heart Association (AHA) to create these two goals based on the AHA’s recommendations.
  • Stress: Certain Wear OS watches can track your stress levels, usually by utilizing a metric called heart rate variability.
  • Body composition: The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 series and 5 series have something called a bioelectrical impedance sensor (or BIA sensor) that will take a snapshot of your body composition. In this snapshot, your Galaxy Watch attempts to determine metrics like your skeletal muscle, basal metabolic rate (BMR), body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, and water retention.
  • Sinus rhythm (ECG): Certain devices pack a built-in ECG monitor for performing electrocardiogram tests, whenever you need them.
  • VO2 max: Some Wear OS watches estimate your VO2 max, or your cardio fitness level. This is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use at maximum performance during exercise.
  • Guided breathing: Using Google Fit, all Wear OS watches offer guided breathing exercises in case you need help calming down throughout the day.

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 series and 5 series both use Samsung Health as the primary app for fitness and health tracking. The Google Pixel Watch uses Fitbit’s companion app. Many Wear OS watches use or can be synced with Google Fit.

Google Fit has received mixed reviews from long-time users. Some cherish its simplicity and ease of use, while others feel the platform is too light on features. Google rolls out new feature updates to the platform every few months. However, the app is still far behind other fitness app staples like Fitbit, Strava, and MyFitnessPal. You can read more on Google Fit in our comprehensive guide linked below.

While Google Fit is the de facto fitness app for Wear OS, some companies ship their watches with additional fitness apps. Suunto’s watch uses Google Fit for basic activity data, while workout data is sent to the Suunto app. It’s not a seamless system, but it works. Mobvoi’s watches ship with a handful of basic health apps for tracking exercise and health data, again in addition to Google Fit.

If you’re not all-in on Google Fit, remember, this is Android we’re talking about. You can always download a third-party fitness app or workout app to use with your device. Many of the most popular fitness apps on Android support Wear OS, so odds are you’ll find something that suits your needs.

Generally speaking, Wear OS watches are fine for tracking basic activity metrics and the occasional workout. We’d suggest you look at devices from Fitbit, Garmin, or other health-focused companies if you’re looking specifically for a fitness watch.

The Wear OS app

You likely won’t use the Wear OS app on your smartphone very often after the initial pairing process. Aside from pairing your watch to your phone, the app is basically a giant settings menu. It lets you change watch faces, add/remove tiles, edit barebones notification settings, and enable things like the always-on display or tilt-to-wake functionality. You can also check your connected watch’s battery and storage amounts. Keep in mind, you can do most of these things right on your watch.

If you purchase a device running Wear OS 3 or newer, it will not be compatible with the Wear OS app. Instead, companies are now required to launch their own companion apps for device setup. For example, the Google Pixel Watch utilizes the Google Pixel Watch app.

Fitbit and Google: What’s the deal?

We have covered this topic extensively in our detailed Fitbit guide. To avoid repeating ourselves, we’ll give you the “greatest hits” of what’s going on now that Fitbit is officially part of Google.

Google officially purchased Fitbit, one of the world’s biggest health and wellness companies, for 2.1 billion on January 14, 2021. Google intends to utilize Fitbit’s hardware portfolio to bolster its bigger wearable ambitions. As Google’s Rick Osterloh said in the announcement, this deal is about “devices, not data.”

For now, Fitbit will continue to make wearables with Fitbit OS — the operating system that powers devices like the Versa line, Sense, and various fitness trackers — but that might not be the case forever. Fitbit plans to launch a Wear OS-powered smartwatch sometime in the future, though we don’t know when. We also don’t know if Google’s grand ambitions are to get all Fitbit smartwatches running the operating system in the future, or if Fitbit OS will continue to be developed as it has been. Expect Fitbit devices to run Fitbit OS, until they don’t.

That said, Fitbit will play a crucial role in Google’s future wearable plans. The Pixel Watch features extensive integration with the Fitbit platform including heart rate tracking and basic activity metric smarts. The Pixel Watch also benefits from Fitbit’s impressive sleep-tracking credentials, too.

What is Google Pay?

Google Pay is Google’s contactless payments service. You can use the service for many things such as paying or requesting money from friends and managing your funds. On Wear OS, the primary use is to pay for things in stores without the need to pull out your phone or your actual credit card.

Google Pay requires your device to have NFC. Most modern Wear OS devices do indeed have an NFC chip, but for some reason, there was a period of time when not all watchmakers included NFC in their devices. If you’re using an older or a cheaper device, you might not have access to Google Pay.

Once Google Pay is set up on your watch, using it is a breeze. You simply select the app on your watch, ensure the correct card is selected, then tap your watch on the NFC terminal. It really couldn’t be any easier.

Google Pay works with many credit and debit cards from the most popular banks. Hundreds of banks in the US support Google Pay. You can pay with Google Pay on Wear OS in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It can also be used at more than 200 transit systems around the world.

Problems and solutions

We’ve alluded to many of the Wear OS issues present in today’s build of the operating system. Since there are so many devices from so many manufacturers, we’ll stick to the main software issues present no matter which device you have.

The main issue most people have is poor battery life. Depending on which device you buy, your watch might last anywhere from 18 hours to two or three days on a single charge. Battery life was a big problem with early devices, which oftentimes had smaller batteries and old processors. Now, companies are getting smarter with battery-saving features.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many easy ways to fix the operating system’s battery drain. You can turn off certain functions like the always-on display, GPS for location, or NFC, but these are system-level features that should be able to be kept on at all times.

Many Wear OS users also complain about poor performance. Again, this was very much a problem with early devices, but not so much anymore. Remember, your watch is not nearly as powerful as your smartphone, so you may experience an app that takes a few seconds to load every once in a while. We’ve also noticed laggy Google Assistant voice prompts on some of our units.

We polled Android Authority readers in December 2020 to figure out which part of Wear OS was your least favorite. Poor battery life and lack of software updates were by far the top choices, followed by nearly a four-way tie between lack of hardware choices, the software interface, the limited app selection, and the overall package.

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Wear OS and the competition

Wear OS has a fair amount of competitors from various companies from all around the world. For Android users, the biggest competition is from Fitbit and Garmin. On iOS, Wear OS’ biggest competition is the Apple Watch. We won’t list out every single competitor (there are far too many), but we’ll point you toward the main devices here:

  • The Fitbit Versa 3 and Fitbit Sense are Wear OS’ biggest competitors from Fitbit. Both watches have plenty of Smart features, built-in Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, and great fitness and health tracking features. Though a new generation is available for each line, we still recommend the older devices.
  • The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is the best Wear OS alternative for fitness tracking, thanks to its accurate sensors and crisp AMOLED display.
  • The Apple Watch Series 8 is the best smartwatch you can buy, full stop. If you’re looking for something a little cheaper but still in the Apple ecosystem, the Apple Watch SE 2 is much cheaper and offers many of the same features.

Older Wear OS smartwatches

We’ve covered all the current-gen Wear OS devices in this article, but what about older wearables that are no longer available or that we no longer recommend? Check out the list below to learn more about older options.

  • Fossil Gen 5 LTE review
  • Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3
  • Moto 360 (2019) review
  • OPPO Watch review
  • Suunto 7 review
  • SKAGEN Falster 3 review
  • Fossil Gen 5 review
  • Diesel Fadelite hands-on
  • Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE review
  • Mobvoi TicWatch S2 and E2 review
  • Casio ProTrek WSD-F30 review
  • Misfit Vapor X review
  • Mobvoi TicWatch C2 review
  • Fossil Sport review
  • Misfit Vapor 2 review
  • LG Watch W7 review
  • SKAGEN Falster 2 review
  • Mobvoi TicWatch Pro review
  • SKAGEN Falster review
  • Mobvoi TicWatch S and E review
  • Huawei Watch 2 review
  • ZTE Quartz review
  • LG Watch Sport and Watch Style review
  • Verizon Wear24 hands-on
  • New Balance RunIQ and PaceIQ review
  • Asus ZenWatch 3 review
  • Polar M600 review
  • LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition hands-on
  • Moto 360 Sport review
  • Moto 360 (2nd gen) review
  • Huawei Watch review
  • Asus ZenWatch 2 review
  • LG Watch Urbane review
  • Asus ZenWatch review
  • Sony Smartwatch 3 review
  • LG G Watch R review
  • Samsung Gear Live review
  • LG G Watch review

Top Wear OS-related questions and answers

You can use older Wear OS watches, running v2.23 or earlier, with an iOS device running iOS 11.4 or later. Fossil Gen 6 devices are also compatible with iPhones. However, many newerWear OS devices, including the Galaxy Watch 5 and Google Pixel Watch, do not support iPhones.

If you own a Wear OS 3 watch, navigate to Settings, then select Software update. Your watch will check for a software update. If your Wear OS device is running v2.23 or earlier, navigate to Settings, then select System, then About, then System updates. Your Wear OS watch will begin downloading a new update if one is available.

Wear OS smartwatches can also make and receive calls on iOS

Wear OS smartwatches are increasingly essential parts for the users. In addition to complementing smartphones, they can also be used independently, especially for making calls.

If this is already a reality on Apple Watch, it was expected to be on Wear OS as well. In the case of Android is a possibility, but on iOS the flaw was real. There are numerous smartwatches in the market with the Google OS.

Wear OS has iOS enhancements

Despite being present on iOS, the Wear OS app has many limitations. Compared to what the Android version offers, it is light years away from what it can make available for smartwatches. The reason must lie in the natural blockages that Apples system.

It was long expected that these watches could make calls through iOS, but the truth is that this possibility did not exist.These were just smartwatches that showed notifications and were limited to some apps.

Make and receive calls directly from an iPhone

A recentupdate, only available for Fossil watches, is changing this scenario.With this new version of their software, they can now make and receive calls directly from an iPhone.

As with Android, your smartphone can be in your for calls to be answered.Everything will appear on the smartwatch screen and the call can be answered.Then the conversation will also be made.

Google smartwatches look better on iOS

Everything seems to be dependent on this proprietary update from Fossil. Thus, it is hoped that all Fossil-branded and Michael Kors brand smartwatches will be able to see this soon. The update will be available.

Probably and soon this may be a feature extended to other third-party smartwatches.This makes available a feature that Android has long had that puts these watches at Apple Watch level.

Wearable App Development Guide for Android and Apple in 2023

Let’s face it, when we talk about the market of wearable apps, it’s mostly Apple Watch software. The Cupertino company has sold over 100 million smartwatches since 2015, maintaining around 55% market share today.

There’s an extremely slim chance you’d consider developing wearable apps for smartwatches produced by other companies:

Here’s why I think you shouldn’t contemplate developing a smartwatch application for these gadgets. Google has recently bought Fitbit and then partnered with Samsung to collaborate on a more advanced OS for wearables. The new OS will replace Google’s Wear OS and Samsung’s Tizen.

This new wearable OS by Google and Samsung is still a work in progress. over, it’s unclear whether their new hardware will support existing wearable software developed for Wear OS.

Then, Garmin is kind of a thing in itself. Their hardware is very niche, targeting professional users, and their platform doesn’t offer much room for developers’ creativity.

I’d say Apple pretty much owns this market at the moment. Therefore, the Apple Watch is the most lucrative option for wearable device app development companies, and you can safely cross off from your agenda questions like, “How to make an Android Wear app?”

Types of wearable apps

If we look beyond smartwatches for other wearables (a space that’s quickly exploding), we’re bound to bump into these options:

  • create wearable applications for controlling portable Internet-of-Things gadgets
  • build wearable applications for health Smart sensors and fitness trackers

Both variants imply the development of IoT mobile software that predominantly works on smartphones (even though they sometimes have smartwatch companion apps), and therefore don’t belong to the wearables category.

So in this blog, we won’t talk about abstract Smart watch app development. Instead, I’ll mainly FOCUS on giving you the details on developing watchOS apps.

You can read up on developing mobile solutions for IoT devices and medical sensors here:

With the internet of things out of the way, let’s proceed by reviewing some of the most popular wearable digital products.


A transit solution that shows the most optimal routes for your travels by foot, car, public transport, etc.

Carrot Weather

The most personal weather software ever.


Your own diary that focuses on tracking your daily mood.

Seven – 7 Minute Workout

Just like the name says, no surprises here — one of the best-performing training applications.


Tracks and analyzes how well you sleep.

Wearable Apps Use Cases

What are the primary use cases for wearable software? A smartwatch is probably the most personal piece of electronics people wear. It behooves business owners to take full advantage of this fact.

android, wear, smart, watches, iphone

If you meditate on the different kinds of wearable applications that make sense developing, you’ll probably come up with these three categories.

Health and fitness

A smartwatch solution is a perfect companion for reminding patients about taking meds or notifying them about vitals when they need attention. Because a watch is always with them, they will hardly ever miss a notification.

A wearable app can silently gather user data throughout the day, using built-in sensors or communicating with another wearable device, and then bring up highlights as users get ready to wind down.

And, of course, it’s hard to overestimate the comfort of having a personal fitness trainer on your wrist, especially when they can accurately track your body movements and other critical data, e.g., heart rate.

Everyday customer apps

Another large category of wearable applications is everyday utilities like timers, weather apps, converters, and virtually any tool customers can quickly use to complete simple actions.

Enterprise use cases

I bet quite a few companies are looking for answers to “How to create a wearable or watchOS app?” because the automation this platform unlocks can streamline so many workflows.

Such mobile products can help workers quickly find their way around, track their performance, simplify inter-department communications, deliver tasks, and so much more.

Wearable Technology Extravaganza

Besides smartwatches, we also have other wearable gadgets like Smart glasses, head-mounted displays (HMDs), and Smart rings that allow users to keep their hands free while interacting with the digital world. And while these technologies sounds exciting to any sci-fi fan, they still need to find wider adoption to prove utility.

Since these are even more niche products than smartwatches, they miss any app ecosystem besides default applications preinstalled by the manufacturer and do not support any publicly available developer tools. Therefore, from the app develpoment perspective, there’s not much to see here.

Steps for Creating an App for Wearable Tech

Now let’s take you through all the steps of wearable application development. Note that most of these steps apply to building wearable apps for watchOS. If, despite all advice, you still want to build an Android Wear app, check out this guide by Google.

Step #1: Get the basics right

Before you start to develop a wearable app, you need to decide on two major things:

  • whether you want to create a wearable app using an application builder or native development tools
  • whether your Apple Watch app will be a companion to an iPhone app or a standalone application

Native vs. app builders

I strongly recommend you choose a native development environment and tools for making a smartphone solution. Most app builders lag in terms of functionality and flexibility and do not support the latest features available in new hardware.

For example, by building an Apple Watch application with Apple’s SwiftUI, you can reuse code on any Apple platform: iOS, iPadOS, TV OS, and macOS.

over, complications — the latest feature in the Apple Watch that makes glimpses of your mobile product available on the main watch screen — can be developed only in SwiftUI. For instance, everything besides the clock on the following screens is complications. Wearable app developers can make such complications available to customers (outside of primary smartwatch apps) by using SwiftUI:

Companion vs. standalone

Since Apple Watch Series 6, we can make a wearable app that works independently from an iPhone big-brother app. Previously, smartwatch software had to rely on the iPhone to download data, use location services, and perform other advanced actions.

As for independent applications, users can discover and download them from the Apple Watch app store. The most significant advantage of Apple Watch-only apps is that they directly access all hardware features of the smartwatch, including internet connection, etc.

A companion app may work when you have a main iPhone application and only plan to provide glimpses of information to the user via a smartphone app.

It’s worth noting here that you should also run market research to understand your target audience better and polish the app idea before starting development.

Step #2: Design a miniature UX/UI

The first thing to remember when you’re creating an app for wearable tech is screen size limitations. So don’t assume you need to cram the content from a regular smartphone application to a tiny smartwatch screen. Instead, FOCUS on creating a unique, glanceable user experience.

Most gestures from the iPhone and long presses are not supported, so think through your app in a way that users don’t have to swipe between screens endlessly.

By the way, in the latest version of watchOS, you can add a “” button where you can hide settings or other secondary options.

Here are some more tips on designing a winning UX/UI for the Apple Watch:

  • any data you display must be glanceable and actionable
  • allow users to perform one single action on every screen
  • use Sort and Filter pickers to trim down long lists of items
  • use a swipe to delete gesture to enable users to remove stuff quickly
  • add a button that applies to all content displayed on a screen at the top (users can pull it down when they scroll to the very top of a list; same as when you pull to refresh a feed)

Note on prototyping. I wouldn’t recommend creating a clickable prototype for an Apple Watch app simply because a prototype and a real-life smartwatch solution work differently.

The thing with small screens is that an app’s appeal is not so much about a pleasing user interface as it’s about UX (correct combination of screens and arrangement of visual elements on each screen).

Step #3: Build features

To make a watchOS app, you need to code its features. That’s precisely what you do once the design is ready. As I already mentioned, I advise you to use Apple’s native tools for smartwatch app development, specifically SwiftUI (which comes with XCode).

That will guarantee easier maintenance and future upgrades and give you some insights into the development process. You can ask developers to record their screens while they build an Apple Watch application, and you’ll see the app screens in action.

Ok, speaking of features. What functionality should you develop? It depends on the type of smartwatch software you envision. Still, I suggest you make the most of the smartwatch’s built-in capabilities:


If you want to create a watchOS app to help patients monitor their health, take advantage of these sensors: electrical heart sensor (ECG), blood oxygen sensor, optical heart sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, and GymKit (if you plan to sync data with a proprietary sports equipment).

Motion sensing

HealthKit supports Mobility Metrics that collect data on how the person moves. You can use this data in your apps, say if you want to help patients recover from a musculoskeletal injury.

You can also make use of CareKit, for example, to sync user-submitted data with a Cloud.

Location awareness

You can add GPS capabilities to your Apple Watch application and even display rudimentary maps in the app to help users navigate if necessary.

Audio/video streaming

Not sure if video streaming makes a lot of sense for a wrist-worn app, but you can benefit from the ability to stream audio, for example, as instructions to a workout.


If you enable Siri shortcuts for your Apple Watch software, users will have an easy time accessing the app’s features.

This one is simple — don’t overuse them.

In-app purchases

Note that you can sell digital content directly on your smartwatch application using in-app purchases (will require StoreKit integration).

Step #4: Test

What do we do before we make the app available to the public? That’s right; we test it.

The reality is testing without an actual device is hard when you create an Apple Watch app. Quite often, that’s the case because you need to check how it performs on its own and verify that the product syncs data correctly with an iPhone application, a Cloud solution, or a Smart gadget.

One way around is automatic tests written by developers as they develop an Apple Watch app. Such automated tests will help prevent most crashes even before starting unit testing.

You can also use the Simulator application built into Xcode to run your smartwatch software virtually.

Step #5: Distribute

Apple Watch apps have their mobile store that customers can access on their wrists. However, the submission process is similar to regular iOS software distribution, with a small caveat. When submitting, you will be submitting an iOS app with details filled only for the Watch App card. Well, your dev team should be able to figure this out.

Check out how an entry looks in a wrist-borne App Store and make a note of the content scarcity.

You can also use an ad hoc distribution model if you want your solution to work only for specific users, e.g., if you decide to track employee navigation inside a facility to identify where they spend most of their time.

Wearable App Development Best Practices

Here are some additional tips that will help you get better traction with your wearable app, especially when custom developing the app. Note that these tips do not apply to Android wearable app development. So use them when building Smart watch software for Apple wrist gadgets.

  • use universal links to display content (that’s easy to update on the web) in your smartwatch application or when you need to link between different smartwatch solutions.
  • mind how you treat the smartwatch’s storage; cache only stuff that needs to be displayed to the user immediately; remove content (e.g., songs) that customers rarely use.
  • SiriKit will allow you to add Siri shortcuts to quick actions in your application and show them in Siri Watchface, where they pop based on when the user is likely to need them.
  • sparingly rely on internet connectivity; trying to connect for an extended period will quickly wear down the watch’s battery.
  • delegate complex computing tasks to the Cloud, and the watch application can fetch ready data afterward.
  • mind data security by implementing authentication via CloudKit or Apple Sing-In.

WatchOS vs. Android Wear App Development

Some businesses may serve customers that favor smartwatches running on Wear OS. If this is the case, you have to develop an Android Wear app in addition to an Apple Watch app. Let’s look at some differences between Wear OS app development and Apple Watch application development to help you create genuinely engaging experiences on both platforms.

Programming languages

Apple: Swift, Xcode. Templates for Xcode are available, which simplifies app creation and management.

Google: Java/Kotlin/Android Studio.

Standalone watch apps

The most recent versions of operating systems for these devices allow for creating independent applications that don’t require a dedicated iPhone or Android app to run. At the same time, you’re still able to create a Wear OS app or build an Apple Watch app that functions as a companion app for smartphone software.

Offline content

Apple: WatchOS can download data from a web service, CloudKit, and other online resources, including a paired iPhone and make downloaded content available for the user.

Google: an app can connect directly to the network or use the Wearable Data Layer API to connect with other wearables.


Both platforms support online streaming for music and video (the latter for Apple Watch only). So if you’re planning to build a Wear OS app for watching videos, it may be not the best time.


Apple: Notifications appear with a short-look interface and can transition into a long-look interface with scrollable content, custom-programmed actions, and a system dismiss button. The system automatically handles where to show notifications at any given time: on the wrist or iPhone.

Google: Can create ongoing notifications for such activities as running, etc. Need to take measures to avoid duplicate notifications in case there’s a companion smartphone app. Notifications can include actions.

Bluetooth connectivity

Both platforms support background connectivity with Bluetooth-enabled medical Smart gadgets. In addition, Apple Watch app development includes an option for healthcare Smart devices to connect in the background and proactively send critical alerts. By the way, Wi-Fi connectivity is also supported by Apple and Google.

Cross-platform capabilities

You can start working on existing code from an iPhone or Android app and scale it down to fit the wearable platforms with no problems. That works the other way around, too — if you wanted to port an independent watch app to a phone.

As you can see Android smartwatch app development still lags behind WatchOS on some aspects.

How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Wearable App

Depending on an app’s complexity, it may take between 30,000 and 70,000 for a wearable application development company to create such a solution. Of course, if you envision a product with just one or two screens, the mobile app development cost will be closer to the lower end.

As you can see, wearables app development is quite tricky, and its investment requirements are on par with iPhone and Android development services just as is the case when building a fitness tracker app. So tread with care.

If you have an Apple Watch application idea and would like our team to prepare an estimate, schedule a call with one of our experts to discuss your mobile application. We’ll be happy to assist you in bringing an innovative wearable product to the market.

[This blog was originally published in June 2021; updated in April 2023]

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