When will Google jump in with Apple Watch apps?

Look at the Apple Watch app partners and you'll see one name missing: Google. Although it has Android Wear, Google should get its software on Apple's latest hardware.
Written by Kevin Tofel, Contributor

Read the early reviews or check Apple's official Apple Watch app page and you'll see some of the newest software titles coming to your wrist. What you won't see are any by Google.

On the surface, that may sound obvious. After all, Google has its own smartwatch platform with Android Wear, which it launched last year with several hardware partners. And these days, Apple doesn't go out of its way to promote its main competitor's apps, instead opting to highlight key third-party partners such as Twitter, Nike, Shazam and Dark Sky (one of my favorite weather apps worth every penny, by the way).


Think a little deeper though and you'll likely recall that nearly all of Google's major apps and services available on Android devices also have an iOS version. Think Gmail, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Google Maps, Google Play Music and more. About the only Google app I use that isn't available on iOS is Google Keep. Ironically, the simple notepad-like app would be perfect for quick notes by voice on the wrist.

Put another way, you can live a fairly happy Google-centric life using the company's apps and services on Apple hardware. If you prefer the latter company's phones or tablets but are deeply entrenched in Google's software world, it's actually a solid combination.

I suppose Google could bypass bringing its apps to the Apple Watch but I don't think that will happen for two reasons. For one thing, Android Wear device sales will likely be surpassed quickly by that of the Apple Watch. An estimated 720,000 Android Wear watches shipped in the second half of 2014, for example. I wouldn't be surprised to see Apple Watch orders exceed that in April alone. Can Google afford not to be part of the Apple Watch conversation?

Second, there's clearly precedent for Google to have its apps on other platforms. That's because the company is far less reliant on revenues from hardware sales; advertising based on user data is Google's cash cow, and it doesn't matter what device provides that data. So what if that user information comes from an iPhone and paired Apple Watch? It's no less valuable to Google than if that same information came from an Android phone and Android Wear watch.

My hope is that Google does extend its iOS apps to Apple Watch sooner rather than later. As ZDNet's Larry Dignan noted yesterday, there may not yet be a "killer app" for the Apple Watch. That's arguable of course and one app may not make or break a device's chances for success.

Google Now cards from third-party partners

If there were one though, I'd think it would be Google Now. Months before Google announced Android Wear, I suggested that the contextual notifications Google Now provides would be ideal as glanceable information on the wrist.

The service surfaces information you need -- sometimes when you didn't even know you needed it -- at just the right time. Traffic reports before you leave work, complete with alternate routes, for example. Barcodes for loyalty reward cards appear when you're near a particular store is another. Time or location-based reminders are also part of Google Now.

Siri is nice, of course, but she's no Google Now; at least not yet. Perhaps Google will have the killer Apple Watch app after all.

Editorial standards