A new version of Play Music is available this afternoon and it's making a big leap in versions from 8.0 to 8.5. This update doesn't come with the redesign that had seemed likely after last month's visual refresh to Play Music on Android TV. But cosmetic touchups were in the cards as the adaptive icons for app shortcuts were fixed in this release. Additionally, Play Music lost some megabytes after unbundling its Wear app.
Okay, you may have noticed that it has been quite a while since the last Android Wear Roundup. The good news is that I am here to take the reins and get this thing going again. Since it has been such a long while, there are quite a few items to go through. This is why I have split the post into two separate pages, as it was way too long for a single page. Rest assured, I will be making sure this Roundup has more of a regular schedule in the future. But hey, enough of that nonsense, let's dig into a super long list of Android Wear apps and faces!
If you're among the crowd that both installs Android developer previews and also owns an Android Wear watch, you've probably noticed some of the apps that belong on your watch have been missing. This happens because the stock apps included with the developer previews are missing the micro-apks for Wear. As the official release of Android 7.0 draws near, Google has been slowly releasing app updates that can install over the stock versions on the developer preview. And as of yesterday's stream of updates, Google Messenger joins that list.
"The Beeb on your wrist" might be mistaken for Cockney slang by some poorly-travelled American blogger, but in this case it's the latest feature to hit the official BBC Worldwide news app. The update to 3.2 for BBC News UK and BBC News Worldwide will send short snippets of stories to your Android Wear device. The only other changes are bug fixes and some layout adjustments for the primary, non-wearable app.
BBC News on a watch is surprisingly usable. A title, header image, and short paragraph for each story are displayed in a sort of mini-RSS style. The layout lets you swipe horizontally and vertically: go up or down to move between the "Top Stories," "My News" (selected on the smartphone app), and "Most Read" categories, and swipe left or right to move between individual stories.
It seems like one out of every four searches I make sends me to Wikipedia for one thing or another - for example, the metric prefix atto- means 10 to the negative eighteenth power, or one quintillionth, or really quite amazingly bloody small. Google itself defaults to a lot of Wikipedia pages for its Knowledge Graph info, and you'll get small cards full of Wikipedia content for many searches from Android Wear. But developer Dheera Venkatraman (whose previous Wear apps Wear Camera Remote and Matrix face we've already written about) has an even better solution.
Attopedia is a surprisingly effective Wear app for browsing full Wikipedia pages.
Welcome to the future, ladies and gents. Your jacket isn't dry, your pizza isn't freeze-dried, and your car can't fly, but if it comes from Tesla, it's still pretty cool. If you also happen to have an Android Wear device, you can pretend to be Michael Knight by talking to your car through your watch, thanks to the unofficial Tesla Command app for Wear. Unfortunately it won't talk back, unless you count honking the horn.
We've covered Tesla's nifty app for the Model S before. It does all kinds of stuff that my beaten-up Ford pickup can't, like track the car's location, mileage, and battery level.
Google's recently launched Android Wear platform had a bit of a rough weekend when it ran into an unexpected snag regarding paid apps – it couldn't install them. It turns out that the behavior could be traced to a Play Store security feature that was responsible for encrypting paid apps to make them more difficult to pirate; but in doing so, it had also made it impossible to extract and install any micro-apps contained within the apk. Tuesday night, Google responded to developers with an apology and a set of steps to reconfigure development projects to circumvent the installation issue.
To implement Google's proposed workaround, developers will have to make some simple one-time changes to the configuration of their projects and then endure a couple extra steps to manually package final versions for release.
Google's hot new item, Android Wear, is barely out of the box, but there's already a pretty big issue deserving of a place in our Bug Watch series. The initial rush of native Android Wear apps is starting to roll into the Play Store as developers get their hands dirty with the freshly released SDK. So far, most of these apps have been given away at no cost, but the few that have attempted to charge a fee have run into a wall. It seems that paid apps on the Play Store are incapable of installing Android Wear components to a device.