Since its announcement at Google IO 2016, Android Wear 2.0 seems to have fallen out of the limelight. We’ve seen the platform get updates to the developer preview … and then get delayed until early 2017 for its full release. According to the latest information about the platform, it now looks as if Google is abandoning the auto-installation of apps to Wear devices.
As of Wear, 2.0 users will have to go to the Play Store on their watch to install apps, yes I said on the watch. This has several implications. Firstly App developers will need to specifically package their Wear apps separately instead of bundling them with the main APK. It also means users will have to manually go and seek out apps to install Wear companions.
To be honest, that sounds horridly awful, let’s hope that there is some sort of simple and intuitive interface to automatically find and install the companion apps for what you have installed on your phone. Of course with a rumoured LTE Android Wear device from Google apparently in the works, perhaps some Wear devices will no longer be “companions” to phones?
It is still early days, and Google claimed in comments on Google that these changes were based on user studies, so perhaps this is what everyone wants? There could be some advantages, perhaps there is an app you would want on your watch that you don’t necessarily want to have the corresponding phone app installed, or vice versa.
Here is hoping that this does not put too much additional workload onto developers; it would be a shame for the Wear app ecosystem to contract as a result. Perhaps this could also open up the ability for app developers to monetise their Wear apps? Afterall companion apps just don’t code themselves, perhaps it’s reasonable to have to pay for those functions?
We are apparently about 4 weeks away from another developer preview update, at which time we may well get more information on this and other aspects of how Android Wear 2.0 will function.
What do you think of having to install Wear apps from a watch version of the Play Store?