It has been a little while since we've seen an update to Messenger, so something potentially big was expected from this release. Version 1.7 doesn't seem to bring any visible changes, but like a sugary cereal box, there is a cool toy hidden inside. Messenger will have its own Android Wear app, just like Keep, Play Music, and a few others. But in a quirky twist, this mini app can't be installed quite yet, not until your Wear watch receives an update to Marshmallow.
Marshmallow is coming soon to Wear
Now that Google has thrown in the towel on getting SMS to work well in Hangouts, it's time for Messenger to bear the full weight of text messaging. As it turns out, part of that responsibility includes more extensive support for Android Wear–and why shouldn't it. The latest update to Messenger includes a brand new micro-apk to fill the role, but you can't use it quite yet. Of all things, the apk requires a minimum API level 23, more commonly known as Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
As many current Wear owners are probably aware – at least most of our readers – Google has yet to unleash Android 6.0 on our smartwatches, which means they're all still languishing on API level 22. Of course, Marshmallow for Wear has been in the works for quite a while: the SDK was announced in mid-November and there was even a working version briefly for sale in the form of the now-aborted LG Watch Urbane 2.
So, what is the significance? Well, this is obviously speculation, but it seems like the timing is right for Google to roll out firmware updates to Wear watches. Without the micro-apk, the latest update to Messenger would probably amount to a handful of minor bug fixes and updated libraries. There's not much incentive to release it unless the Wear app is either intended for testers or there's actually an official 6.0 launch coming up shortly. Again, this is just speculation.
Oh yeah, and Messenger has a Wear app (that matters too)
The last section really just focuses on the existence of a micro-apk for Messenger and its rather telling requirement, but you might be wondering if there's anything special about the app, what it does, and what it will look like. There's actually not a lot to tell, but a couple of observations do stand out.
To begin with, it looks like a partially scaled down version of the regular Messenger app. In much the same way that Keep shares quite a few common resources and code between its phone and watch versions, Messenger seems to do the same. Unsurprisingly, this means the app will retain the same color and style choices, but with a more watch-friendly layout.
One interesting note is that the app includes SMS profile information for numerous carriers, just like the phone version. It's possible these resources are simply leftovers copied from the full version in the making of the Wear apk; but if that's not the case, this means the Messenger app is probably meant to be capable of running completely standalone on cellular-enabled watches.
There's not much more to add at this stage, since the app has so much in common with its big brother, but we'll surely revisit this subject when Android 6.0 ships to watches.
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: 1.7.049 (2550558) (17049138)