updated 03:30 am EDT, Wed July 9, 2014
Bundled Wear apps not reading encryption file correctly, only free apps install
Earlier this week, a significant issue was discovered in Android Wear devices, keeping users from installing paid applications on the wearables. According to news from Android Police, when the apps are downloaded to the phone and then channeled to the watch, a key piece of information isn't accessed correctly. In the process, the encryption key that ties an app to a device, as part of Google Play's App Encryption, cannot be read -- leaving the apps unable to be installed.
As Android Wear apps stand now, they must be bundled with a handheld app as directed by Google. The company points out that wearable users cannot browse and install items directly, instead relying on a paired phone to send the application package. "If packaged properly," says the Android developer page, "when users download the handheld app, the system automatically pushes the wearable app to the paired wearable."
The issue revolves around the inability of a Wear device to extract the encrypted Android application package file (APK). Lacking a way to decrypt an application, the device doesn't recognize what the APK contains. In turn, Android Wear thinks that there's nothing to install and aborts the installation. The bug was first reported three days ago by a developer of a custom watch face app for the devices.
Currently, there are only a handful of dedicated paid Android Wear apps, with most priced around a dollar. Because of this, only a small number of people may be affected by the bug for the time being. Free apps are still installing as intended, leaving one possible workaround for bypassing an encryption key.
The encryption error is the first large hiccup with Android Wear devices since their release. However, Google issued a manual workaround for developers to use, via the Android developer blog, until the bug can be addressed in an update.
Developers need to manually pack the wearable APK in a different location for paid applications to work. The "wearApp" Gradle build system rule cannot be used to package the APK, which means creators need to place it in the "res-raw" directory manually. The developer blog says that the Gradle rule is going to be updated in a future version of the Android SDK build tools to allow the APK to embed in the new directory. For now, the company is changing the documentation to reflect the new manual process.
"We're working to make this easier for you in the future, and we apologize for the inconvenience," reads the blog.