Does the Google Pixel Watch work with an iPhone?
The world of Wear OS smartwatches got a whole lot more interesting this week with Google’s announcement of its first smartwatch, the Pixel Watch. While there’s no shortage of Android-compatible smartwatches, there are relatively few dominant players in this market, especially when you narrow the field down to devices that offer a native Wear OS experience.
While a few Wear OS smartwatches like the Moto 360 and Oppo Watch have had some impact, it’s fair to say that Samsung’s Galaxy Watch line dominates the landscape. Samsung Watches are undoubtedly the first devices most people think of when it comes to Android smartwatches, but that might change now that Google is throwing its weight behind the Pixel Watch.
Whether the Pixel Watch will eventually topple the Galaxy Watch 5 remains to be seen, but its arrival also raises another important question for smartwatch fans: what about the hugely popular Apple Watch?
Can I use Pixel Watch with an iPhone?
There’s no doubt that the Apple Watch is the best smartwatch for iPhone owners, but that doesn’t harm Apple’s ecosystem either, it’s pretty much the only smartwatch that’s truly compatible with the iPhone.
At one time, Android watchmakers like Samsung offered some iPhone compatibility with a third-party Galaxy Watch iOS app. For some reason he stopped doing this a few years ago; the Galaxy Watch 3 2020 was the last Samsung smartwatch that iPhone users could enjoy. Since then, the Galaxy Watch has been an Android-only affair.
Google doesn’t seem inclined to change that with the Pixel Watch, which has very similar compatibility specs to the Galaxy Watch 5. In other words, the Google Pixel Watch only works with Android phones and doesn’t not work with iPhones.
While this seems to limit choice, it’s not entirely a bad thing. Whether they’re running watchOS or Wear OS, modern smartwatches are designed to be an extension of your smartphone, delivering notifications and transferring activity between the big screen and your wearable.
This requires a deep level of integration into your smartphone’s operating system, so it’s not something a third-party app can do as well. Smartwatches are considerably more complex than AirPods or Pixel Buds, which despite their advanced features still use a standard Bluetooth audio connection under the hood.
Simply put, Google wants to make sure Pixel Watch owners can get the full Wear OS experience, and that requires Android on the other end. While an iOS app could easily manage Fitbit-powered health and fitness features, if that’s all you want to do with your Pixel Watch, you can save some cash by picking up a Fitbit at home. square.
What about other Android devices?
The Pixel Watch is an ideal companion for a Pixel smartphone, especially Google’s new Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, for which it was designed with aesthetics to match. However, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t need to own a Pixel to use the Pixel Watch.
Technically speaking, the Pixel Watch is compatible with any smartphone running Android 8.0 or later. This compatibility is provided through the Google Pixel Watch app on the Play Store. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that you’ll likely get the best Pixel Watch experience if you’re also using a Pixel phone.
It’s not unique to Google either. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 also works with any Android 8.0 device, but some features like Samsung Pay won’t work unless you’ve paired it with a Samsung smartphone. Since Google is taking a more purist approach to Android, the Pixel Watch will likely have fewer restrictions, but there’s no doubt that Google designed it to work best with a Pixel phone.
The concession to other smartphone platforms probably has more to do with the open nature of Android. The Apple Watch only works with the iPhone because the iPhone is the only device that runs iOS. With Android on nearly every other smartphone on the market, Google has no reason to limit its customer base to just its smartphones when it can support a much larger world of Android devices with minimal effort.
Android has always been about offering more choice, and that’s also true of the Wear OS smartwatch ecosystem. While Google’s Pixel Watch isn’t quite ready to take on Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5, it’s also just the first entry. It will be exciting to see what Google has in store for future releases as it continues to expand its Pixel ecosystem.