Galaxy Watch 4 says no to iPhone, will Wear OS follow suit?

Google confirmed this week that the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 requires a Google-approved Android device to activate. More specifically, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 must be "activated" with a device that runs Android and is equipped with Google Mobile Services. "That is the case for the Galaxy Watch4," said a Google representative, but "we have nothing to share at this time for future devices with Wear OS 3."

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic are the first two devices to run Wear OS 3. This is the first version of Wear OS to be developed with contributions from both Google and Samsung – or at least it is the first version that's been so very clearly made in a team-up between the two.

Given that, it's interesting to see the devices released with a requirement for activation with a device equipped with Google Mobile Services. Google Mobile Services, or GMS, is present on every Android device that's been approved by Google to run Google apps, including the Google Play Store. Not all Android devices have GMS, but all GMS devices run Android (for now).

Huawei is one major example of how no Google in a smartphone doesn't mean no Android, but it does mean a very different path for the creator of said device. Amazon also runs its own version of Android on devices like the ill-fated Fire Phone.

Over the past few years, Google's wearables software Wear OS has worked with Android and iOS. Most smartwatches running Wear OS have worked with iPhones – and mostly aimed to function with Android devices, but included some level of functionality with connectivity with iOS devices.

With the launch of the Galaxy Watch 4, it seems that something changed. The Galaxy Watch 4 requires a GSM Android device to get started, right out the box. As yet, Google has not given confirmation that this will not be the case for other future Wear OS devices running Wear OS 3 and newer.