[Potential workaround] Google Messages paw print icon reports on WearOS/Android suggests accidental rollout of test build, fix coming

This story is being continuously updated….new updates are being added at the bottom…..

Dogfooding or ‘eating your own dog food’ – which in layman terms means using your own product – is a practice that Mountain View, California based tech giant Google has been following for years.

Google does a lot of internal testing of their apps and services to iron out major issues before releasing public beta versions.

What’s beneficial about incorporating dogfooding at the first phase of testing is that it significantly reduces the delays that often occur in releasing the stable updates as major issues get reported and fixed right at the first step.

Image source: Geek and Poke

So it shouldn’t be surprising if we tell you Google has been doing something like this with the Android Messages app lately.

But what’s weird is that over past few days, Messages app users on different Android phones as well as smartwatches running Wear OS by Google have been reporting that Messages app icon on their phone’s home screen or watch face has a paw print superimposed on it.

Complaints can be seen posted across the company’s official help forums, other online discussion platforms as well as micro-blogging site Twitter. Here’s how come of the affected Android phone owners with devices like Google Pixel 2, Moto E5/E4, Moto 6 Play etc word the problem in question:

When someone texts me on Google Messages, a little red circle with a number in it appears on the Messages icon. But today for the first time, instead of the red circle – a little Pawprint has appeared. I have no unread messages (texts). What does the Pawprint mean?

Does anyone else have a pawprint at the lower half of their Messages App Icon or does anyone know what it means?

By default, here’s what the Messages app icon placed on an Android phone’s home screen looks like:

Messages app on OnePlus 6

And here’s what the affected Android phone users who have received the dogfood version of Messages app on their devices are now getting to see:

User shared image of paw print icon on Messages app

Similarly, here’s how some of the affected users with smartwatches running Wear OS by Google (formerly Android Wear) explain the matter:

I just bought a new WearOS watch (Fossil Venture HR Gen 4) and I installed the Google Messages on it. Within the app, I am giving it the proper permissions to access the app (Phone, SMS and Contacts), but upon returning to the app, it says I still need to set them up.

I’ve tried restarting the watch and my phone, to no avail. The settings menu still shows that the permissions are enabled, but the app still says it is not. Also of note is that the app has a pawprint icon (which apparently means it’s an internal build I shouldn’t even have?).

I have a paw print on my messages icon and it just showed up just now never seen it before and nobody knows where it came from? I feel like they are spying on me it wasn’t there 10 minutes ago.

One of the affected Wear OS users even shared the bulid number of the Messages app i.e. v4.3.094 reportedly after which the Messages app icon changed on their unit. So this particular app version could be the leaked dogfood build by Google.

Messages app version on Wear OS

One of the complainants who routed to Twitter said:


As far as we can understand, Google seems to have accidentally pushed the internal test version of Messages app to end-users in the form of a stable update. So, as a result, those who received the leaked build on their Android phone or smartwatch units stand confused.

That said, as soon as the issue was reported on the official Wear OS help forum, one of the forums product expert pitched in informing a complainant that they could have got a bad version of the app on their watch.

I think you’ve somehow got a bad version of Messages on your watch – I’m just not sure to explain how/why that’s happened.

Wear OS forums product expert’s response

Later on, just as more users began complaining about the problem, the same product expert shared that they’ve been informed this problem has already been escalated and should be resolved soon with an update. Here’s what they said:

I checked with some other experts and it sounds like this issue is already escalated and being looked into. It should be resolved with an update “soon”.

Wear OS forums product expert’s response

With that coming from a forums product expert, it’s safe to say those of you who have been encountering the paw print icon on Android Messages app lately because of the dogfood build that got circulated, should soon get to see an updated version of the app, meaning no more paw print.

Here’s hoping that gets done soon. Rest assured, we are keeping a tab on all related developments and will update the story as and when any new information comes to our sight.

Update 1 (May 15)

Going by latest user reports, a workaround that seems to help at least some of the affected users is to force stop the app, disable all permissions and then re-enable them.


P.S. Recently, we also highlighted a couple of Wear OS-related issues like Google Maps throwing a blank screen on watch face instead of map, temperature displayed in Fahrenheit despite selecting Celsius and buggy voice-to-text feature.

Those of you who are interested in details, can read the complete coverage about the issues by heading here. And for more Android-related news and stories, head here.

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Dr. Aparajita Sharma

A budding entrepreneur by profession, and a psychologist by education. As a founding member of PiunikaWeb, I am nurturing this firstborn with my sharp-eyed expertise and even journalistic writing when needed.