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Android Wear Gets iPhone Support, but Limitations Worth Watching

Apple's limits make it tough to integrate two-way messaging and other features one might want from a watch that costs several hundred dollars.

Screenshot by Re/code

That Google is bringing iPhone support to Android Wear watches is not a surprise. What is worth paying attention to are the things that Google can and can’t do when connecting with an Apple device.

Google

There have been other watches that offer iOS connectivity, but it’s particularly thorny as Apple doesn’t allow deep access to the kinds of calling and messaging integration that many users would want from a smartwatch. Google can’t get around all of these limits, though it can use its Gmail app and Google Now to deliver other kinds of services.

Like Pebble and others, Google can also mirror the types of notifications that iOS offers up from various apps.

There is another limitation that Google called out in its announcement. While all future Android Wear devices will work with the iPhone, the only current model immediately gaining support is the LG Watch Urbane. For those who happen to have that watch, Google’s iPhone companion software is due in the App Store later today.

Google also said the software would work with upcoming watches from Asus, Huawei and Motorola. And it’s worth noting, Android Wear support requires an iPhone 5 or later.

Figuring out the right mix of features to put into a phone costing several hundred dollars remains a challenge for the whole industry, including Apple and Google.

It’s going to be a key topic at our upcoming Code/Mobile conference Oct. 7-8, which features Google’s Amit Singhal and Fitbit CEO James Park, among others.

The whole industry remains tiny, with Apple leading the way by a wide margin. According to an IDC report last week, Apple shipped 3.6 million Apple Watches in the second quarter compared to just 545,000 watches running Android Wear, which has seen slow sales since its debut last year.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.