The first round of Android Wear devices have only just started shipping. But any early adopter who straps on an LG G Watch or Samsung Gear Live to their wrist in the coming days may have a problem installing paid apps designed for Android Wear.
Problems with Google Play's approach to copy protection are making it impossible to install paid apps on Android Wear smartwatches, according to Android Police.
In 2012, Google introduced App Encryption to Play Store apps to make it harder for hackers to crack and then freely distribute any paid apps—but now that encryption has backfired on Android Wear.
To get a smartwatch app onto your device you currently have to download a companion app to your smartphone. Then the phone app automatically checks for a paired watch and installs the app on the watch via Bluetooth.
But the install process has to extract the encryption key for a paid app to move from the smartphone to the watch, which it currently can't do, Android Police reports. Ultimately, the install process fails and Android Wear owners are left to figure out why a purchased Wear app isn't showing up on their shiny new watch.
To get around this problem, some developers are offering a free app install with in-app purchases, thus removing the app encryption problem.
Google will probably fix this issue pretty quickly since the company is hoping Wear will be the biggest platform in the expanding wearables market. Until a fix does appear, however, know that paid apps for Wear are best avoided for now. And if you see an uptick of in-app purchases for Wear, keep in mind these apps aren't necessarily trying to fool you into buying something, but simply working around an existing issue.