Google Play Services: new APIs, cloud messaging and more
Mountain View today at Google I/O announced some really big changes: new APIs for Google Maps, Google+ single sign-in, cloud messaging, and Play Games. These are some exciting times for Android users, and we’ve got the rundown on all of the new services below!
Google Maps has received a trio of APIs: Fused Location Provider, Geofencing, and Activity Recognition. The first of three brings more accurate location signals. It even has a low-power location mode that uses less than one percent of your battery per hour! Simply amazing.
Geofencing allows for virtual fencing around a geographical area, and the last of the three, Activity Recognition, uses accelerometer data to tell if someone is, say, walking, running or driving.
Google+ single sign-in
Google earlier announced the ability to sign-into websites using your Google+ credentials. Today at Google I/O, Mountain View revealed further plans to make the feature more seamless. Once navigating to a website using your smartphone’s or tablet’s browser, you can sign into the website using Google+.
From there, it begins downloading the Android app for the website. Once it’s installed, you can launch the app and you’ll find that you’re already signed into it via Google+. It’s a small update, but makes for a more seamless browsing experience.
Google Cloud Messaging, the push notification service that was introduced last year, is now integrated into Google Play services, and has received three new features. These include persistent connections, which will help push out messages quickly, upstream messaging for easily sending data from your app to your servers, and perhaps the most awesome feature yet: synced notifications across all of your devices.
Google Play Games services introduces a number of new APIs for developers to use, including instantaneous cloud game saves, which will be amazing for games like Angry Birds. Developers will also be able to take advantage of leaderboards and achievements.
So, it’s your standard gaming platform, like Apple’s Game Center. Google takes it a step further though. While developers will get take advantage of cloud game saves, leaderboards, and achievements, all of these APIs won’t just be available on Android — they’ll be available on iOS and the web too.
There are some exciting things going on in the Android world, folks. Google’s game services is going to be really helpful among the developer community considering you won’t have to worry about services like OpenFeint shutting down and essentially ruining your leaderboard, and achievement integration.
There’s only one thing I’m a tad worried about though. What if the Google Play Games API isn’t mandatory? While giving developers a choice is nice and all, it seems like it’d be a bad idea to leave the space open for third-party developers (i.e. Verizon and Playphone) to make their own gaming platform to try and trump Google’s own Play Games services.
Regardless, the features listed in this article will be rolling out today to those running Android 4.0 or higher. Are you excited for any of these new APIs and services? Sound off in the comments!