Google offers workaround for bug that stopped paid apps installing on Android Wear

Barely out of the gate, Google's Android Wear platform has seen its first bug emerge - and it's one that will frustrate developers.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Google has forgotten to include a way for users to install paid apps on devices running on its brand new wearable platform, Android Wear.

With new apps for Wear piling into the Google Play store, Wear developers have found a significant oversight by Google in the tools it recently released to developers: users can see paid-for Wear apps in the store but they can't install them.

First spotted by Android Police, the bug has probably left a few people at Google with red faces. As it notes, most Wear apps are free, however the bug has emerged amid Google's efforts to hype up the platform as new Wear hardware, such as the Moto 360, the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live, began shipping.

Wear developers first reported the problems two days ago on Reddit.  According to Daniel Ward, developer of the Binary Watch Face Wear app, the problem stems from the use of encryption for paid-apps on Google Play. 

"As of right now the Google Play Store uses encryption for paid apps. (An option to opt out of encryption would fix this easily for most developers). That encryption causes the nested wear app to not be able to be deployed to the Wear device," he wrote on Google+.

Google today acknowledged the issue and released details of a workaround. The bad news for developers is that, until it releases an update to its Wear SDK, they'll have manually tweak their paid apps in order to get around a glitch that prevents apps from being extracted or read by the Wear installer.

"We have a workaround to enable paid apps (and other apps that use Google Play's forward-lock mechanism) on Android Wear. The assets/ directory of those apps, which contains the wearable APK, cannot be extracted or read by the wearable installer. The workaround is to place the wearable APK in the res/raw directory instead," Google said on its Android developer blog.

Google had told developers the proper way to package a wearable in Android Studio was to use its Gradle feature. Since the wearable device is too small for users to conveniently install apps directly to them, Google offered the feature to allow the wearable app to be packaged within a handheld app. The smartphone then pushes the wearable app to the Bluetooth-paired wearable.

The company said it will update the "wearApp" Grade rule in a future release but, until it does, the only option for developers is the manual workaround. "We're working to make this easier for you in the future, and we apologize for the inconvenience," it said.

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