According to Apple's App Store Review Guidelines, Android Wear for iOS should not be possible. Apple's rules state, "Apps or metadata that mentions the name of any other mobile platform will be rejected."
Android Wear for iOS clearly violates this rule, particularly given that Apple's language doesn't hedge. It's not "may be rejected," it's "will be rejected."
Yet, Google and Apple have found a way to live with one another. In an email, a Google spokesperson said, "We've worked with Apple to make sure this fits their guidelines."
It has been clear for some time that Apple doesn't want to press the issue. In April, when it appeared that Apple had disallowed an iOS app for the Pebble smartwatch, Apple clarified that the rejection had been a mistake.
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Entering the term "Android" into the App Store search box on Aug. 28 returned 42 results, so there's clearly not a blanket prohibition on any mention of Google's mobile platform. Presumably, Apple has retained its contractual language to deter developers who might try to use their App Store listings to promote Google Play apps or to engage in other marketing abuses.
In a blog post heralding the détente, Google noted that Android Wear offers "countless design choices." That may be, but iOS users seeking a compatible Android Wear device have only one choice at the moment: the LG Watch Urbane.
However, future Android Wear watches from the likes of Asus, Huawei, and Motorola will work with the iOS app, according to Google.
Google's app allows iPhone users to receive Android Wear notifications from apps such as Gmail, Google Calendar, and Apple Calendar, and to interact with other Android Wear features. It requires an iPhone 5 or above running iOS 8.2+.
Despite Apple's forbearance, Android Wear faces a formidable competitor. The Apple Watch debuted in Q2 and, according to IDC, accounted for two out of every three smart wearables shipped during the quarter. The firm estimates that 3.6 million Apple Watches shipped in the second quarter, a wearable shipment figure exceeded only by Fitbit.
The Android Wear cause hasn't been helped by Samsung's shift of focus toward smartwatches running its own Tizen operating system. Among the top five sellers of wearables in Q2 -- Fitbit, Apple, Xiaomi, Garmin, and Samsung – there's not much passion for Android Wear.
Maybe iPhone users will help turn things around.