An employee demonstrates the new Huawei Watch wearable device during a Huawei Technologies Co. news conference ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday, March 1, 2015. The event, which generates several hundred million euros in revenue for the city of Barcelona each year, also means the world for a week turns its attention back to Europe for the latest in technology, despite a lagging ecosystem. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Simon Dawson — Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Kif Leswing
August 28, 2015

Did Amazon just spill the beans about a major Android Wear update? Huawei’s long-awaited smartwatch briefly went up for preorders on Amazon on Friday before price and other details were eventually taken down.

According to the listing, the Huawei Watch has a round 1.4-inch screen, comes in four different color and band combinations, starting at $349.99 and going up to $799.99 for a gaudy gold version. It’s running Android Wear, Google’s smartwatch operating system, and will be compatible with most smartphones running either Android or iOS.

Wait a minute. Android Wear doesn’t work with iOS. It only works with smartphones running Android. There are workarounds, but at the moment, if you’re one of the millions with an iPhone, Huwaei Watch — and other Android Wear smartwatches — can’t easily sync with your phone.

So did Huawei jump the gun on a major announcement? Reports from earlier this year indicated that Google was close to creating an app that would pair Android Wear devices with iPhones, including Google Now cards, voice search, and notifications. Several new Android Wear devices will be hitting shelves before the holiday season, and cross-platform support would be a headline feature.

It’s also possible that Huawei has built its own workaround to support iOS into its watch, which would give it an edge over other Android Wear models. Pebble’s smartwatches work with both iOS and Android, so it’s a manageable challenge.

 

When asked for comment a Huawei spokesperson provided this statement: “Earlier today, incorrect information about the upcoming launch of the Huawei Watch was published on a partner website. We have nothing to announce at this time. Stay tuned for more details next week.”

The Apple Watch currently only works with iPhones and there’s been no indication that that’s going to change anytime soon. So, if Android Wear were to start supporting both major smartphone platforms, it would start competing directly with Apple Watch head-to-head for the first time. iOS owners currently don’t have a lot of choices for smartwatches if they decide they don’t prefer the Apple Watch, and Android Wear support for iPhones would open up a wide range of devices to a new potential audience.

Android Wear product manager Jeff Chang told Huffington Post last October that “[w]e always want as many users as possible to enjoy our experience, so in terms of enabling more people to use Android Wear we’re very interested in making that happen.”

The Apple Watch has already made a splash in terms of sales. A recent report indicates that 3.1 million Apple (AAPL) smartwatches have been shipped since it went on sale in April, which puts it in second place right behind Fitbit (FIT) in the wearables market. None of the other five top wearable vendors use Android Wear for their smartwatches, except for fifth-place Samsung, which shipped 600,000 devices in Q2 2015. But Samsung also makes a number of smartwatches running its own software, not Google’s(GOOGL).

Considering that it’s possible that Apple sold more smartwatches in its first day than Android Wear did in its first year, Google’s smartwatch platform needs to make some major improvements going into the all-important holiday season. Opening up support for iOS would do exactly that, and according to Huawei, it might be time.

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