Sundar Pichai presents Android Wear, the company's smartwatch OS / Reuters

The Apple Watch now has serious competition, though functionality is a little limited

iPhones can now be paired with Android Wear watches, letting watches powered by Google’s operating system for wearables finally take on the Apple Watch.

Until now, Android Wear watches could only be used with Android phones, and the only major smartwatch operating system available on the iPhone was the Apple Watch. But Google has managed to bridge that gap, letting their watches run on both systems.

The Apple Watch is given more freedom within the iPhone’s operating system to sync with the phone, meaning that Android Wear watches will be able to do less. Those are the same difficulties that have constrained other watches like those from Pebble, which work mostly for notifications rather than pairing with the iPhone in the way the Apple Watch does.

But they will be able to get information from special apps, track fitness and use Google’s smart help and Now cards, which pop up useful information at relevant times, according to Google.

Google is launching the new feature on new Android watches initially. At first it will only work with the LG Watch Urbane, and will come to new watches from Huawei, Asus and Motorola soon.

Android Wear on iOS requires an iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6 or 6 Plus, running iOS 8.2 or later.

Google’s announcement was similar to the pitch that Apple makes for its watch — focusing on looks and the ability to personalise the watch.

“Want a round watch with a more classic look? Feel like a new watch band? How about changing things up every day with watch faces from artists and designers? With Android Wear you can do all of that,” David Singleton, director of engineering for Android Wear, wrote in a blogpost.