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Making the Apple Watch Compatible with Android Won't Be Easy – Here's Why

After the US Department of Justice (DOJ) officially filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, the company immediately defended itself against the charges. with a number of statements. Interestingly, Apple even confirmed that it was at one point considering making the Apple Watch compatible with Android. However, doing this for Apple will not be easy from a technical and strategic point of view.

Apple Watch and iPhone

When the Apple Watch was announced in 2014, Apple made it clear that it was designed as an accessory for iPhone users. To pair and set up the Apple Watch, you need an Apple smartphone, and that's it – it doesn't work, for example, with an iPad or Mac.

As the years have passed, Apple has made the Apple Watch a little less dependent on the iPhone. You can, for example, set up a child's Apple Watch even if the child doesn't have their own iPhone. However, the iPhone is still necessary, and the Department of Justice uses this fact as evidence of its claim that Apple is a monopoly.

Apple Smart Watches – Apple Watch – compatible with iPhone only. So, if Apple is able to push a user to buy an Apple Watch, it will become more expensive for that user to buy a different type of smartphone because it would require the user to ditch their expensive Apple Watch and buy a new smartwatch that is compatible with Android.

According to Apple itself, the company has considered making its smartwatches compatible with Android smartphones. However, after a three-year investigation, this idea was abandoned. Apple says the project is not feasible due to technical limitations. While it's easy to think that the company abandoned the idea because of its business strategy, in reality there are many technical limitations that prevent the Apple Watch from being compatible with Android.

watchOS relies heavily on iOS

watchOS, the operating system of the Apple Watch, is an independent platform based on iOS, like tvOS. However, due to the way watchOS is designed to work, it is directly related to many of the features available in iOS.

In the early days of watchOS, it was not possible to run apps using Apple Watch hardware. Instead, apps ran directly on the iPhone and appeared in the background on the Watch screen. This was partly because watchOS was a new platform, which gave Apple more time to polish its own SDK before making it available to developers.

But at the same time, Apple made the Apple Watch super-dependent on the iPhone. because it will also save a lot of resources on the use of equipment. The first Apple Watch didn't have a powerful chip—those who had experience using it probably remember how long it took to open an app or reboot the watch.

The Apple Watch is essentially a mirror of what's going on on the iPhone.

Apple Watch has become more independent, but…

A lot has changed since then. With watchOS 2, Apple finally allowed developers to create apps that run natively on Apple Watch hardware. Native apps can connect to Wi-Fi and run even when your iPhone isn't nearby. At the same time, new versions of the Apple Watch are equipped with more powerful chips.

Apple Watch Series 3 was also a significant step forward in reducing dependence on the iPhone. With the release of the cellular version, Apple made a lot of changes to allow more watchOS apps to work on their own, without the need for an iPhone. This allowed users to send iMessages and even stream Apple Music directly from the 4G network.

Apple Watch is now more independent than ever. Most apps work without an iPhone nearby, especially for those with the cellular version. However, the core of watchOS 10 is essentially the same as before. The Apple Watch still requires multiple iOS platforms to function. The setup process still uses everything needed from the iPhone.

A great example is that in order to take advantage of some of the new watchOS features, users will also need to update iOS to the latest version due to platform shares between the two platforms.

Apple Watch users can stream and download Apple Music songs without having an iPhone nearby

Apple Watch for Android is not impossible, but does it make sense?

Does this mean the Apple Watch can't be made to work with an Android phone? Not really. However, this will certainly require a lot more effort on the part of Apple, which is still slowly working to make the Watch less dependent on its own smartphone.

Top comment by Greg Elsberry

Liked by 11 people

I think it's important for readers to understand that while it's true that an iOS device is required to set up and use the Apple Watch, it's true that competing devices do too. To set up and use your Google Pixel watch, you need an Android phone. The latest watches from Samsung are also exclusively for Android.

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Apple will have to completely overhaul the Apple Watch setup process and the way it handles things like eSIM, for example. Because before making the Apple Watch compatible with Android, Apple will have to completely separate watchOS from iOS. Will Apple be able to do this eventually? Absolutely. Would it be worth the effort? I don't think so.

At this point, Apple probably sees more value in convincing people interested in the Apple Watch to buy an iPhone than selling a few more watches to a few Android users here and there. And we can't blame Apple for that—there are competing smartwatches that only work with Android.

If there's one thing the company could do right now, it would be open up its APIs to others interested in companies can better integrate their smartwatches and other accessories with iOS without resorting to tricks and workarounds. But that's a topic for another article.

What about you? Let us know if you could use an Apple Watch with an Android phone if it were possible.

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