Unlike most fitness trackers and some exceptions like the late Pebble, smartwatch platforms such as Google’s Android Wear and Apple’s watchOS are pretty much like walled gardens. Trying to show that it wants to play fair, Google has slowly opened up Android Wear for those without Android phones, a.k.a. iPhone users. In the fifth and last developer preview for Android Wear 2.0, Google is taking that one step further by making it possible to install Android Wear apps even without an Android phone at all.
The prevailing theme for the Android Wear 2.0 release is “independence”. Starting with this version, developers no longer need to bundle smartwatch apps with a smartphone app. In fact, they’re required not to do so. That makes it easier to develop and distribute Android Wear apps without arbitrarily tying them to the smartphone.
Those benefits trickle down to iOS support, where developers only need to use a “standalone=true” flag to indicate than app is, well, standalone. This means that those smartwatch apps will show up in the dedicated Android Wear app store, which won’t need an Android phone to function. Of course, you’ll still need the phone’s Internet connection for that to work, and Google warns that it network connections with iOS might be slower than with Android.
With the last dev preview under wraps, Google is just about ready to finally roll out the already delayed Android Wear 2.0 release. That delay has already cost it some OEM partners but it seems there are still a few who believe in the cause. It remains to be seen, however, if consumers will similarly be aligned.