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Google Just Opened a New Front in Its Battle With Apple

2 minute read

Most shoppers aren’t yet convinced they need a smartwatch — but that isn’t stopping Google from stepping up its fight for wrist-based supremacy against Apple.

Just a few months after Apple introduced its first smartwatch, Google on Monday introduced an iPhone app for Android Wear, its year-old smartwatch software. Android Wear powers devices that compete with Apple’s own Apple Watch, like Motorola’s Moto 360 and LG’s G Watch R.

Using the iOS Android Wear app, iPhone users will be able to sync their smartphones with various Android Wear watches. The app will relay information like incoming phone calls, text messages and heads-up notifications from apps directly to the face of an Android smartwatch. It will also include a fitness feature for tracking steps and setting training goals, and it will come equipped with Google Now, Google’s Siri-like virtual assistant that responds to voice commands.

The iPhone-compatible version of Android Wear won’t support third-party apps, meaning the number of actions iPhone owners can perform directly from a watch face will be limited. However, a Google spokesperson said the “vast majority” of popular Android Wear features will be available to iPhone users.

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Android Wear got off to a relatively slow start in 2014, making up an estimated 720,000 of the 4.6 million smart wearable bands sold that year. It’s unclear how many Android Wear devices have sold this year, but research firm IDC estimates Apple shipped 3.6 million Apple Watch units during the device’s first quarter on the market.

The Android Wear app will be compatible with the iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6 and 6 Plus running iOS 8.2 or newer. The LG Urbane is the only Android Wear watch currently on the market that will support iPhone compatibility, but all future watches will be compatible.

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