As we close in on the end of the year, Google's developers are lining things up for possible late-2016 launches or preparing to test features they plan to launch next year. With the rollout of Google Play services v10.0, a couple of those things stand out as current projects. There are signs final testing has begun for Instant Apps, Google's way to give users a way to use apps without actually installing them. It also looks like some progress has been made towards enabling Android Pay to work through Android Wear.

Teardown

Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android's application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that plans could change or may be canceled entirely. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it's officially announced and released.

The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk.

Android Pay on Wear

Since the announcement of Android Wear, one of the big requests has been to see contactless payments make the jump from the phone to the wrist. Many people believed it would happen in 2014 when ASUS launched the ZenWatch, the first Wear device to have NFC. Two years later, it still hasn't happened. However, new text found in the Play services apk shows there is some traction on this front.

Most of the strings have "wear" and "tp" prefix, which is used for elements in the Tap and Pay interface. The actual text also makes a couple of references each to Android Pay and the phrase "your watch," leaving no room for misinterpretation.

Tap and Pay + Wear strings

<string name="tp_tokenization_success_on_wear_body">%1$s %2$s has been added. Please check your watch.</string>
<string name="tp_wear_account_required_body">To use Android Pay with %1$s, add that account to your phone.</string>
<string name="tp_wear_account_required_title">Account Required</string>
<string name="tp_wear_add_account">Add account</string>
<string name="tp_wear_keyguard_body">Add a screen lock to use Android Pay more securely</string>
<string name="tp_wear_proxy_body">Check your phone</string>
<string name="tp_wear_proxy_title">Now finish setup on your phone</string>
<string name="tp_wear_retap_prompt">Try holding your watch to the terminal again</string>
<string name="tp_wear_select_account_header">Choose account for Pay app</string>
<string name="tp_wear_transaction_notification_text_full">%1$s paid with %2$s</string>

<activity android:name="com.google.android.gms.tapandpay.ui.TokenizationSuccessActivity" android:enabled="false" android:exported="false" android:icon="@drawable/tp_logo_android_pay_color_48dp" android:label="@string/tp_payments_application_name" android:process="com.google.android.gms.ui" android:theme="@style/Theme.AppCompat.Light.NoActionBar">
<intent-filter>
<action android:name="com.google.android.gms.tapandpay.ACTION_TOKENIZATION_SUCCESS" />
<category android:name="android.intent.category.DEFAULT" />
</intent-filter>
</activity>

The main theme of the text is fairly predictable for a setup and usage. There are instructions to check either the phone or watch at certain times, and a line about trying again to perform a payment by holding a watch to a payment terminal.

Of course, this is far from a revelation. There have been a couple of activities with "tapandpay" and "wear" in their names going all the way back to July with the release of Play services v9.4 (shown below); but this is the first time text has shown up, which means interfaces are under development and possibly already in testing.

Wear + Tap and Pay activities

<activity android:enabled="false" android:exported="false" android:icon="@drawable/tp_logo_android_pay_color_48dp" android:label="@string/tp_payments_application_name" android:name="com.google.android.gms.tapandpay.wear.WearProxyActivity" android:process="com.google.android.gms.ui" android:theme="@style/Theme.AppCompat.Light.NoActionBar"/>

<activity android:enabled="false" android:exported="false" android:icon="@drawable/tp_logo_android_pay_color_48dp" android:label="@string/tp_payments_application_name" android:name="com.google.android.gms.tapandpay.wear.WearProxyCompanionActivity" android:process="com.google.android.gms.ui" android:theme="@style/Theme.AppCompat.Light.NoActionBar"/>

The timing for these additions to Play services may not be a coincidence. The original activities in v9.4 arrived shortly after the first developer previews were released for Wear 2.0. With the announcement of a delayed release until 2017, it's likely work was temporarily halted until details could be ironed out. It's certainly possible that things are back on track and the development has resumed.

This also coincides rather closely with the leaked pair of Google-made Wear smartwatches. Neither watch was ever specifically rumored to include NFC capabilities, but with this capability showing up in Play services an obvious drive to make Android Pay successful, there's certainly a good chance these watches will be equipped for contactless payment. This is speculation, but it's hard to overlook the association.

Instant Apps

I don't think much introduction is necessary for this one, everybody will probably remember Instant Apps announced at Google I/O 2016. There aren't any new things in the Play services v10 update. This is more like a progress update, or maybe a hint about timing.

All of the activities, services, and a provider have just been switched on. To be specific, all of the manifest entries have an 'enabled' property, and it was just switched from false to true. This means Google is very likely testing the Instant Apps framework outside of lab conditions, and may be nearing a public launch.

code

<activity android:name="com.google.android.gms.instantapps.settings.OptInActivity" android:enabled="true" android:excludeFromRecents="true" android:exported="true" android:theme="@android:style/Theme.Translucent.NoTitleBar" />
<activity android:name="com.google.android.gms.instantapps.routing.EphemeralInstallerActivity" android:enabled="true" android:excludeFromRecents="true" android:exported="true" android:theme="@style/Theme.Common.NoUIActivity">
<activity android:name="com.google.android.gms.googlehelp.helpactivities.SystemAppTrampolineActivity" android:configChanges="orientation|screenSize" android:excludeFromRecents="true" android:exported="true" android:label="@string/gh_menu_help" android:process="com.google.android.gms.ui" android:theme="@style/gh_ActivityStyle">
<activity android:name="com.google.android.gms.googlehelp.helpactivities.HelpActivity" android:configChanges="orientation|screenSize" android:excludeFromRecents="true" android:exported="true" android:hardwareAccelerated="true" android:label="@string/gh_menu_help" android:process="com.google.android.gms.ui" android:theme="@style/gh_ActivityStyle" android:uiOptions="splitActionBarWhenNarrow">

<provider android:name="com.google.android.gms.instantapps.routing.InstantAppsContentProvider" android:authorities="com.google.android.gms.instantapps.provider.api" android:enabled="true" android:exported="true" android:process="@string/common_persistent_process" />

<service android:name="com.google.android.gms.instantapps.service.InstantAppsService" android:enabled="true" android:exported="true" android:process="@string/common_persistent_process">
<service android:name="com.google.android.gms.instantapps.routing.DomainFilterUpdateService" android:enabled="true" android:exported="false" android:process="@string/common_persistent_process">

This wasn't the only sign that Instant Apps is progressing beyond its own developer team. The recent Play Store v7.2 update also contains a pair of new lines for the debug settings screen (intended for developers and testers only). These add a link to install an "Instant Apps Supervisor" tool for testing and diagnostic purposes.

<string name="debug_instant_apps">Instant Apps</string>
<string name="debug_instant_apps_summary">Install Instant Apps Supervisor</string>

Again, there's not really much else to say, but these things can be taken as signs that Instant Apps may launch in the near future. It's still too early to make any assumptions about when exactly that will happen, especially if the testing phases go on for quite a while. The upcoming holiday season could also play a role in the release schedule. We'll either see Instant Apps go live in the next 3 weeks, or it won't happen until at least the end of January.

Download

The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.

Version: 10.0.84

This version should already be in wide release, but here's the download link just in case anybody wants to check it out.

Google Play services
Google Play services
Developer: Google Inc.
Price: Free