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Along a major update to the Firebase app development platform, Google launched a new version of its SDK framework, Play Services.

First off, Google clarified in a blog post that there is now some overlap between Play Services and Firebase. But the Play Services SDK will continue to be updated and, in fact, Firebase integrates Play Services 9.0.

One of the main additions coming to Play Services 9.0 is a new ad format called Native Ads Express. With this format, developers can define in CSS details like fonts, colors and other formatting information. AdMob combines this formatting with assets supplied by advertisers, including headlines and calls to actions, thus reducing the workload for the developer. As an added benefit, updating Native Ads Express templates can be done without redeploying the app.

Play Services 9.0 brings small updates to the Nearby API, which allows apps to seek out and interact with devices from the phone’s proximity.

There are also some changes coming to the Play Games Client SDK. For developers who want to learn more about how players interact with your games, the Predictive Analytics feature highlights players that are likely to spend (or churn). They can also identify the players that are likely to be high spenders and then customize their experience to maximize spending.

For a user perspective, apps that rely on IAPs could become more subtle when it comes to pushing the user towards spending for in-app items. Of course, this depends on the developer’s willingness to analyze user behavior and adapt accordingly.

Finally, the new video recording API from the Play Games Client SDK will let game developers easily add the ability to record video. Live video streaming is coming soon. Once developers begin to add this feature to their games, it should be much easier for Android gamers to record and broadcast their gaming sessions.

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