Google Inc. is introducing an application that will connect Android smartwatches with Apple Inc.'s iPhone, escalating the rivals’ battle to strap their technology on people’s wrists.
The move thrusts Google onto Apple’s turf in an attempt to boost the lackluster sales of watches running on its Android Wear software. The program uniting devices running on different operating systems was released Monday in Apple’s app store.
Until now, Android watches only worked with smartphones powered by Android software, just as the Apple Watch is designed to be tethered exclusively to the iPhone.
Google’s new app, though, will enable the latest Android watches to link with the iPhone so people can quickly glance at their wrists for directions, fitness information and notifications about events, emails and Facebook updates.
The devices still won’t be able to be tied together in a way that would enable Android watches to communicate with all the other apps that a user might have installed on the iPhone.
That roadblock is likely to discourage many iPhone owners from defecting from Apple to buy an Android watch unless Google finds a way to overcome the obstacle, IDC analyst Ramon Llamas said.
For now, Android watches are most likely to appeal to iPhone owners reluctant to spend a lot of money on a device that remains more of a novelty than an essential gadget.
Google expects the prices of Android watches compatible with the iPhone to range from $100 to $400. Apple, which has a long history of demanding premium prices for its products, sells most of its watches for $350 to $1,000, though its luxury models cost more than $10,000.
Android watches aren’t going to be bought by “the fanboys and fangirls that have to have absolutely everything with an Apple logo on it,” Llamas said. “We are talking about going after people who are open to other possibilities with what they can do with their devices.”