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Play Music v8.5 drops 2 MB of dead weight by unbundling Wear app and fixes app shortcut adaptive icons [APK Teardown]

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.

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Android Wear beta program opens up for 8.0 Oreo, only available for LG Watch Sport

Now that Android 8.0 Oreo is out of beta and making its way onto devices in earnest, the Wear team is taking a turn with its own preliminary firmware update. Starting today, Google's Beta Program page is now distributing an early version of the next release of Android Wear. However, if you were looking forward to a lot of new features, you might be disappointed to hear that this is being referred to as a "technical upgrade to API 26" – mostly an update to the underlying infrastructure. On top of that, only one watch qualifies for betas at this time: The LG Watch Sport.

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Google is updating its policies for apps with Wear 1.0 support, multi-APK distribution to replace bundled APKs

Android Wear has come a long way in the last three years, but it was the launch of Wear 2.0 that brought the most significant changes. With most of the Wear devices updated to 2.0, Google is adjusting the way it markets apps that target small(er) screens and implementing a new distribution model that removes some of the compromises associated with supporting older Wear devices.

A post to the Android Developers Blog details plans to change the "Enhanced for Android Wear" badge requirements. Apps that originally qualified for the badge by simply implementing enhanced notifications are no longer going to be included if they don't also have a Wear app to go with them.

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Deezer updated to include support for Android Wear [APK Download]

French music streaming service Deezer launched in the US almost exactly a year ago and its large catalog of songs has impressed as the company attempts to rival Spotify and Google Play Music outside of Europe. Since May, subscribers have also been able to use the service through Google Home, and the latest update extends functionality to Android Wear watches.

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The new GUESS Connect smartwatches run Android Wear 2.0, will launch later this year

The time has come for another fashion company to get into Android Wear, and this time it's GUESS. The new watches are part of the Connect product line, but they're not the first smartwatches GUESS has sold. The last Connect was a mechanical watch with a dot-matrix ticker display. The new ones will be more what you expect from a smartwatch.

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Watchmaker Movado announces Android Wear support, at least one model coming this fall for around $500

Wearables aren't exactly tearing up the mobile landscape like they were two years ago, but Google still seems to be all-in on its Android Wear platform. And surprisingly, the company is apparently bringing in interest from conventional watchmakers. Movado, a Swiss-American watchmaker known for simple and elegant luxury designs, has announced that it will have at least one Android Wear model later this year. Movado Connect will launch in the fall running Android Wear 2.0.

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Google app v6.10 beta prepares to add a "search gesture" and enable keyboard input for Google assistant [APK Teardown]

We're barely into the new year and Google isn't wasting any time getting updates out to some of its apps. A new beta for the Google app turned up on Tuesday, but like the last few versions, there aren't any apparent new features jumping off the screen. However, there are a few clues hidden inside the apk that tell us about a few changes coming down the pipe in the future. On the docket this time is a new(-ish) input method for Google assistant and a mysterious gesture-based search action. The first steps have also been taken to bring Google assistant to Android Wear.

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Latest beta of Android Wear companion app allows filtering non-Wear Bluetooth devices and prepares to launch the Play Store from phones [APK Download + Teardown]

Development on the Android Wear platform has stumbled a bit as the official 2.0 release has been delayed until early 2017. That doesn't mean the companion app can't continue to get updates. A fresh beta build of v2.0 came out a couple of days ago with a couple small tweaks to remove one of the little annoying things about the Bluetooth pairing process. The teardown also reveals a couple of interesting additions related to standalone apps and the Wear-specific Play Store.

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IDC: Smartwatch sales absolutely tanked in Q3 2016

According to the IDC, sales of smartwatches globally declined an absolutely catastrophic 51.6% in the third quarter of this year versus the same time frame in 2015. While there are several mitigating factors at play, this is even more staggering than the numbers from the previous quarter, in which sales dropped only 32% ("only") year over year.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of the bleeding comes courtesy of Apple, which just released its newest Apple Watch devices. Those new watches were only on sale for two weeks in the third quarter, so their impact will likely be felt more in Q4, though I'm really not sure by how much.

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Android Wear app v2.0 beta for developer preview 3 adds a Google account manager and removed some outdated settings [APK Download]

After an extensive delay, Google finally dropped the third developer preview of Android Wear 2.0 yesterday. While the hot topic was a newly extended timeline that pushes a final software release to early 2017, there was also a new version of the Android Wear companion app made available.

It's important to note right away that this is a beta release and is currently only intended for watches running developer preview 3. In fact, it's pretty clear the only reason for releasing this update is to add the necessary interface for some of the new features. If you're planning to install DP3, and only if you're installing DP3, you'll want the 2.0 beta of the companion app.

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