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Android Wear on iOS: Could this be the watershed moment for wearables?

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Android Wear on iOS: Could this be the watershed moment for wearables?

Despite plenty of hype and some decent products, Android Wear, and by extension smartwatches other than the Apple Watch, remain a niche proposition.

Sales of such devices are said to be pretty small beer, although official figures have not been released.

In July, research firm Strategy Analytics claimed that Android Wear amounted to just 11% of the smartwatch market, well behind Apple’s 75%.

Word is Google’s partners managed around 600,000 sales in the three months from April to June. Hardly a resounding success for a device-category that was meant to be big business.

apple watch sport white

However, the news that it is launching the platform on iOS could mean we’re about to see an uptick in wider smartwatch sales.

Google says iPhones newer than than the iPhone 5, running iOS 8.2 or above, will work with new devices such as the LG Watch Urbane and soon–to–be–released models from Huawei and Asus.

Interestingly, while Google hasn’t given its official support, all older Android Wear models will also play nice with the iPhone.

Eagle–eyed users have found that if they factory reset their Google–backed watch, they can hook it up with an iPhone via the official Android Wear app.

iphone 6 review landscape

This new, device-agnostic approach could pay dividends. Until now, it’s been all or nothing for smartwatch owners, whether they want an Apple Watch, Android Wear device or one of Samsung’s Tizen–packing Gears.

Now, with a chance to buy a device on one platform and use it on another, users have a compelling reason to get on board the wearable revolution.

Of course, this doesn’t detract from the fact that smartwatches are hard to explain as must–buys for the average consumer. That's largely because, let’s face it, they are nothing of the sort.

But there are sure to be plenty of iPhone owners out there who like the idea of one, but don’t want to pay north of £300 for an Apple–branded model.

android wear lollipop

Android Wear, for all its faults, is a handy alternative and does basics, such as notifications and reminders, very well.

Only time will tell if this means we'll see an upsurge in smartwatch sales. But the fact that Google is willing to try suggests it wants its platform to succeed and is happy for it to go head to head with the Apple Watch on iOS in order to do so.

Smartwatches may remain niche for some time. But give it 12 months and a few lower price points, and that tipping point may not be as far away as first thought.

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