Google Play Services 20.50.14 prepares to add support for Wearable Exposure Notifications

Google Play Services 20.50.14 prepares to add support for Wearable Exposure Notifications

Back in August of last year, we learned that the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) was working on a new BLE specification that would make contact tracing possible on wearables like smartwatches. To develop this new specification, over 130 Bluetooth member companies came together to form the Bluetooth SIG Exposure Notification Working Group (ENWG). At the time, the Bluetooth SIG had also announced that it would release an initial draft of the new Bluetooth specification for review in the coming months.

An APK teardown can often predict features that may arrive in a future update of an application, but it is possible that any of the features we mention here may not make it in a future release. This is because these features are currently unimplemented in the live build and may be pulled at any time by the developers in a future build.

As promised, the standards body published a draft of the Wearable Exposure Notification Service (WENS) specification last month. The draft highlighted the new Bluetooth specification, which would enable “a non-Internet-connected wearable device to operate in a manner complementary with one or more deployed Client-based Exposure Notification Systems (ENSs), therefore enabling significantly more individuals to participate in an ENS.” Although the Bluetooth SIG has yet to finalize this new specification, a teardown of the latest Google Play Services update reveals that Google has already started working on adding Wearable Exposure Notification support to the app.

Google Play Services v20.50.14 recently started rolling out on the Play Store. It includes the following new strings that reveal a few details about the upcoming Wearable Exposure Notification support:

<string name="exposure_notification_pair">Pair</string>
<string name="exposure_notification_pair_fail_dialog">Pair failed! Please try again.</string>
<string name="exposure_notification_pair_new_device">Pair new device</string>
<string name="exposure_notification_paired_devices">Paired devices</string>
<string name="exposure_notification_pairing">Pairing…</string>

<string name="exposure_notification_wearable_available_devices">Available devices</string>
<string name="exposure_notification_wearable_device_list">Get notified on paired devices</string>
<string name="exposure_notification_wearable_device_name">Device name</string>
<string name="exposure_notification_wearable_pair_dialog_message">"Your phone will use this device to securely collect and share random IDs with other devices that are nearby.

You can be notified if you’ve been near someone who reported having COVID-19.

The date, duration, and signal strength associated with an exposure will be shared with the app.
"</string>
<string name="exposure_notification_wearable_pair_dialog_title">Pair %s for COVID-19 Exposure Notification?</string>

The aforementioned strings include a few dialogs highlighting the pairing process that will help users connect supported wearables to receive exposure notifications. After pairing with a new device, users will see a dialog that states: “Your phone will use this device to securely collect and share random IDs with other devices that are nearby. You can be notified if you’ve been near someone who reported having COVID-19. The date, duration, and signal strength associated with an exposure will be shared with the app.”

As of now, Google hasn’t released any official information on the matter. But since the company has already started working on adding Wearable Exposure Notification support to Google Play Services, we expect to see a formal announcement in the coming weeks.

About author

Pranob Mehrotra
Pranob Mehrotra

A Literature and Linguistics graduate with a keen interest in everything Android. When not writing about tech, Pranob spends most of his time either playing League of Legends or lurking on Reddit.