Every week, I examine somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred app updates while looking for changes. The most interesting things turn into APK Teardowns or Download posts. Many of the remaining updates are unremarkable, amounting to a few bug fixes, routine updates to libraries, or even just pixel-level adjustments to layouts and images. However, there are usually a few updates that land somewhere in between. I don't want to spam readers with dozens of short posts, but I hate to ignore things that people might want to know about, so I'm going to wrap up the leftovers for a little weekend reading and call it Update Notes.
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.
Version 1.4 of the Android Wear app started rolling out late Friday. The theme of this update, at least for what's currently live, is a set of changes to the Settings screen. There are a couple of new options, but they come at the expense of the battery stats screen. A look under the hood also shows that a few other features are either live or in the works for the next Wear OS update.
Video on your watch. Video... on your watch. Yup, it's a thing now. And not just any video, millions and millions of videos (at least 20% of which feature cats) on the world's biggest distribution service. Pack it in, NASA. Hit the showers, CERN. Go suck eggs, DARPA. There's no need to try anymore: now that we've got a YouTube app for Android Wear, humanity has reached its absolute peak.
Video for Android Wear & YouTube comes from appfour, the developer of AIDE, Gmail for Wear, and the Android Wear web browser. In that context this is sort of a natural progression, but it's still hard to think of the app as anything more than a novelty.
Late yesterday, Google began rolling out an update to the Android Wear companion app. Despite a sudden growth of over 2 MB in size, the app only seemed to change the text of a warning, and there were no visible changes on our watches. We knew there had to be something great hidden under the covers, and we were right. The companion app certainly has some interesting changes of its own, but it also acts as the delivery mechanism for a Wear-customized version of Google Play services, and there's a bit to talk about in there, too.
Disclaimer: No matter the confidence level, there's always a chance product updates, features, and some or all details will be changed or cancelled altogether.
Update: A Google representative reached out to inform us that the bug report feature only appears if your phone is also in developer mode (tap repeatedly on the Build Number in the "About Phone/Tablet" menu). You may need to enable developer mode on Android Wear as well, as one commenter points out.
If you've found a problem with your Android Wear watch, you can now submit a bug to wearable app developers. That's definitely a good thing, since certain parts of the platform could use a little spit and polish. But hold your horses: the process for recording and submitting the bug is on the far side of confusing.
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.
The Android Wear companion app is officially available for download on the Play Store, not that you can do anything with it without an Android Wear device. But hey, it's worth knowing where to find it when the time comes, right?
So there it is. Download it. Pretend you have a Wear device. Or something. I'm not really sure.