Full disclosure: I own an iPhone 6. It's not my daily driver (I use it for testing and design research), but when Android Wear for iOS was announced, I thought it might be fun to connect my Moto 360 to the iPhone and see what our friends using iOS might experience if they decide to pair up with an Android Wear watch.

The app

First things first: the Android Wear app for iOS. In general the experience will seem familiar to Android users. Pair up your watch using its special name/code, then view a video going over the basics, etc. The iOS onboarding process feels a bit laborious, since - if you follow the app's guidance - you'll have to do things like venture into iOS settings to enable bluetooth, double click the home button, and go back to Wear, but it's not unbearable and in practice you can just swipe up the iOS quick settings from the bottom. The process guides you with fun illustrations to turn on Google Now, allow Wear to collect all your notifications, turn on location, and grant calendar access.

Inside the app the experience is much the same as its Android counterpart - a hero image of your chosen watch (in this case the not-officially-supported Moto 360) appears up top along with settings and an overflow menu, and watch faces plus apps live on the rest of the screen.

Since Android Wear on iOS doesn't officially support third-party apps (though, after consulting with Cody I'm convinced it would be possible for an iOS app to deploy a mini APK to the watch), the section reserved for apps in the Android Wear interface is instead called "Tips" and serves up advice on using features already built into your watch.

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The watch faces section on the other hand is pretty interesting - since it can't send you out to the Play Store to browse a larger selection of watch faces, the Wear app looks inward at a catalogue of (for now) 15 watch faces blessed by Google, including those from June's designer watch face launch and faces from developers like ustwo. We must assume Google has further plans for this sort of mini Play Store within the Wear app, but what the plans are - and whether they're compatible with Apple's App Store guidelines - we can't be sure.

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In settings, you get a couple of hardware-specific options like tilt to wake and always on screen, and controls for what shows up on the watch, including Google Now cards and notifications (Wear's two main food groups on iOS right now). You can also block out email app notifications in favor of Google's own rich notifications for Gmail, which give you reply and archive actions on the watch.

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Missing are entries for watch info like battery and storage, and - of course - "together" watch faces. The iOS settings overall - lacking some of the abilities that Wear on Android has - are much more concerned with what they can do, which of course centers on notifications. The overflow menu in the app is trimmed down to just two items: pair with a new wearable and view tutorial, compared to the eight items in Android's Wear app. Some of the missing items are actually in settings (like help/feedback and about) while others - like report wearable bug and take wearable screenshot - are just missing. Whether this is due to a technical limitation or some other reason is unknown, but - except for taking screenshots - I can't say the extra overflow entries are something I miss.


The watch

So with all that out of the way, what actually happens on the watch? There's honestly not too much to say here if you're already familiar with Wear. Besides watch faces, as you may have already guessed, the watch does approximately four things when connected to iOS: notifications, Google Now, Google Fit and whatever else came built into the device. Of course those are four pretty big things - notifications and Google Now alone might make it worth the jump for some users.

Notifications all seem to feed through the Wear app - initially every notification showed the Android Wear launcher icon rather than the icon for the app from which the notification came, but after a while all the right icons started showing up.

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Some cards can open links on your phone using a notification from the Android Wear app (in contrast to Android which simply opens the relevant content on your phone).

But notifications generally just give the basic info and the option to block the app, a notable exception being Gmail notifications which - as mentioned earlier - have reply and archive actions.

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Google Fit keeps track of your steps and heart rate just like always, but there's no iOS app to support it - your data is just visible on the watch. Similarly built in apps like Moto Body just work on the watch ostensibly without a hitch.

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Final thoughts

Ultimately, is the experience of using an Android Wear watch with iOS a good one? That depends - what do you want to use a smart watch for? Android Wear can't reach its hands very deep into the OS or apps, and it doesn't seem likely that that part of things will change in the foreseeable future. And without third party apps, you've basically got a Google Now and notification machine with a side of fitness and whatever your watch's manufacturer has packed in.

But even if that doesn't sound appetizing, all is not lost - the mini watch face store inside the app proves the concept that distributing Wear apps and watch faces on iOS may have a future after all, even if we aren't there yet. And if that doesn't come to fruition, maybe some enterprising iOS devs will find out how to send mini APKs to Android Wear devices. But whether that happens and what those apps will be capable of is still anyone's bet, meaning that - for now - using Android Wear on iOS is a limited experience with the benefit of hardware diversity and a hope that - in the future - we'll get closer to an equal experience.