With smartwatches running Android Wear slowly starting to trickle out into the world, developers are coming to grips with Google's new wearable platform. In doing so, they have found one of its first big bugs: paid apps don't work.
Currently, there's no such thing as a "standalone Wear app." Watch apps must be downloaded by a phone using the Play Store and include an Android Wear component. After installing the phone app locally, the phone sends the Wear component to the watch over a Bluetooth connection.
Paid Android apps are encrypted, with the encryption key obtained from the Play Store and passed to the phone. But according to a report from Android Police, the key does not currently get passed to the watch. With no way to decrypt the packages, the watch fails to install encrypted wearable apps. The only current workaround is not to charge for the app, which removes the Play Store's encryption.
Developer support for Android Wear remains rough in these early days. One of the apps broken by this bug was a third-party watch face, which only existed thanks to the ingenuity of the developer community; Google doesn't have documentation available on how to properly write a watch face yet.
While no paid app support may be a real bummer for developers, it's probably just a bug. We've contacted Google for comment on this issue and will update if we hear back.