San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge
Update: Google Play Services 6.5 is now rolling out to users, meaning developers can now actually roll out functionality based on it to their applications. As usual, Google developer advocate Magnus Hyttsten put up a great little video about the update. Check it out:

Original post:

Google is very excited to be rolling out Google Play Services 6.5 to all of the good little Android phones around the world. The update brings new functionality to Google Drive, the Google Fit API, Google Maps and Wallet.

As usual, you won’t notice the update on your device, but it should update in the background for you in the next few days.

Although all of the improvements and updates in the new Google Play Services 6.5 are designed to improve your user experience with Android, most of the new features are of immediate benefit to developers. This means that us users should expect to see a few new tools in our favorite apps coming soon. What we can expect will include:

Google Drive

Applications can now create both public and private custom file properties in Google Drive, allowing apps to save info that will remain even if edited by other apps. Better yet, we will gain extra controls over device sync with Google Drive. As we’ve seen with other apps and services, you will be able to choose when files can upload and sync, dependant on your connectivity and charging status. Have to step out unexpectedly? No problem, you’ll be able to manually cancel pending uploads, too.

Google Fit API

Developers gain far better control over activity segments, specifically over pauses or multiple activity workouts, to better account for your water break during a workout, or stopping to view the waterfall half way through your hike. For example, you can see my Google Fit activity below from my trip to the Googleplex, it was about 59 minutes of walking, but since I stopped for pictures with the Lollipop statue (and more, of course) it breaks up my ‘activity’ into several chunks.

Google Fit data from Googleplex

This Google Play Services update means that developers, Google included, can now measure better, so that my trip shows as an hour of activity, instead of a 41 minute activity, a ten minute activity and some misc steps.

Google Maps

The additions to Google Maps through the Google Play Services 6.5 update makes it much easier for developers to provide you with relevant maps for certain situations. Specifically, you will start to find a new map toolbar that directly fires up navigation on your Android device. Saving a step or two, if you’ve ever used Maps to find your way.

Google Play Services 6_5 Map Toolbar

Google Maps now also offers a lite mode option. This option allows developers to put a very small and focused map in front of you. Basically, the new lite mode map is a static image of the map, but with far better tools on top of the image compared to previous implementations. Developers can now place markers and shapes, as well as allow users to access most Maps layers. Of course, a final tap on the map fires up Maps itself, if needed.

Perhaps the biggest move here is to expose the system intents surrounding maps. This means that other applications will be able to better call Google Maps to handle mapping, navigation, search and Street View tasks.

Google Wallet

In a short but significant update, you will start to see a new ‘Donate with Google’ button. It operates much the same as the old ‘Buy with Google’ purchasing button, accept that it is designed for collecting donations using Google Wallet as payment.

Rounding out the sweet parts of the update, Developers can now be more specific in which APIs they require for their apps through Google Play Services. This reduces load on the apps and the system, and should result in smaller apps that work faster, use less battery and require fewer permissions.

Finally, Google wants all the developers to know that the SDK is coming soon, as is more tutorials and code samples to work with.

Are you excited for any of these new features included in the Google Play Service 6.5 update?

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