This article is going to be a very selective review of certain apps and aspects of the Wear OS and how it fairs for an iOS user
I finally decided to get a smartwatch last month after waiting for almost 4 years since the Moto 360's first launch in 2014. Back then my primary device was a Nexus 4. Last March I switched to an iPhone but I didn’t want to buy an Apple Watch since it is crazy expensive (duh!). So I ended up getting a Ticwatch E from Mobvoi.
The Ticwatch E is a cheap smartwatch from Mobvoi that runs the latest Wear OS by Google (image source: https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1427/2170/products/ticwatche-black_left_large.png?v=1517322991)
Before even powering on my Ticwatch for the first time, I installed the Wear OS app on my iPhone from the App Store. It gives you clear instructions on how to setup your new watch and pair it with your iPhone as well helps you to sign into your Google account. It took me a few tries to pair my Ticwatch with my iPhone but I finally succeeded after a few restarts. I think this is more to do with Ticwatch rather than Wear OS or the iOS app for Wear OS — well hopefully. The first thing I did was to look through the available watch faces. Pretty good collection! I chose a favorite one and went on to explore more of Wear OS. I immediately connected my watch to the WiFi and opened the Play Store. I saw some familiar apps like Google Fit and Uber and I immediately installed them but there were not many apps to install in the first place. I can understand that the reason is that it is not an Android phone that I am using the watch with, but that was still kind of a let down. App developers — please support Wear OS with your iPhone apps 😊
Notifications on Wear OS, when paired with my iPhone, work really well! It shows you all the notifications in real time with a cute little nudge on your wrist to make you aware of a new notification. You can swipe right to dismiss the notification and that dismisses the notification on your iPhone as well. There’s also a “Clear All” section at the very bottom is the notification slider that you can use to get rid of all notifications.
But you cannot reply to a message on Messenger or WhatsApp, unlike in the Apple Watch. For some this might be a problem or short-coming but it was not a very big issue for me.
You can also receive or reject a phone call
To be able to use the Google Assistant you need to connect to the WiFi and it works flawlessly! Just like the Assistant on any other platform/device, you can ask Google anything and it shows you the response with a useful information like today’s weather, or a location depending on what you have asked it.
The Google Assistant works flawlessly just like on any other platform
Google Fit on the Wear OS works very well with options to set your daily goals, your workout schedule as well as to measure your heartbeat. This information gets synced with the iOS app for Wear OS. I was not particularly interested in testing it but the step counter was very similar to my Apple Health’s step counter so I’m presuming it does its work.
The Contacts app cannot be used to place calls and just shows a contact’s phone number
After being able to accept or reject calls right from your Wear OS smartwatch, it only makes sense to also be able to place a call, right? Enter the Contacts app, which I had opened with a lot of expectations at first. It does show you all contacts from your iPhone but that’s it. You can view someone’s phone number but not call them. This was unexpected for me as a developer since I know that it is very straight forward to be able to place calls through an app/bluetooth via your iPhone. Something Google should work on?
The other preinstalled apps such as the Alarm app, the Stopwatch app, the Timer app and the Reminders app work as expected. Note that apps like the Reminders app work with your Google account and are synced with your Google account. In the iOS app for Wear OS you can choose your Apple Calendar so that the Reminders app uses that instead of your Google Calendar.
The Ticwatch E is an pretty good choice if you want to try out Wear OS with your iPhone but not the best in the market. The most common issue that I always have to face is the periodic Bluetooth disconnection from my iPhone. It happens quite often and becomes irritating at times. The screen is also not the best but is bright enough to be used outdoors. The Ticwatch app on the App Store never seems to pair with the watch and hence, some apps like Ticwatch’s own fitness tracker on the watch are useless. But since Google Fit works on the watch, this was not a problem for me. The battery life is promising and lasts for almost 2 days with Bluetooth and location services switched on. It drains really fast if you have both the WiFi and Bluetooth switched on. Overall, the Ticwatch is a good Wear OS smartwatch — only for Android phone users. For iOS users, there must be some other Wear OS smartwatch that forms a better combo with your iPhone.
Wear OS is an excellent alternative to watchOS for iOS users. If you are not very particular about Apple’s UI and Google’s Material UI works for you, then you should definitely try it out. It does almost everything that an Apple Watch can do but for extremely low prices. There are some parts where Wear OS falls short but that’s due to Apple’s closed ecosystem and the failure of app developers to support Wear OS in their iOS apps. But you still have apps like Uber, Google Maps and AccuWeather that work perfectly on Wear OS with an iPhone. Google’s new updated Wear OS app for iOS is promising and makes me hopeful for the future of Wear OS with iOS devices.