16 May 2013

Social Gaming, Location, and More in Google Play Services

Posted by Greg Hartrell, Angana Ghosh, Francesco Nerieri, Francis Ma, and the Google Play services team

Some of the most exciting Android announcements at Google I/O this year are part of our latest Google Play services release, version 3.1.

The new version brings you Google Play games services, part of a new cloud-integrated platform for social gaming based on Google+ identity. Also included are location-based services that make it easier to build efficient location-aware apps. For apps using the popular Google Cloud Messaging platform, you can now take advantage of XMPP messaging and easier setup. Finally, Cross-Platform Single Sign On for Google+ Sign-In is now available to your apps.

You can get started using these APIs and services right away—Google Play services 3.1 is already rolling out to Android devices across the world, with support reaching all the way back to Froyo.

Google Play games services

Games are always popular with Android developers, and the announcement of Google Play game services raised the volume even more.

Google Play games services lets you make your games more social, with achievements, leaderboards, and multiplayer, and they help you extend your user’s games across multiple devices by storing game saves and settings in the cloud.

Several great Android games are already using these new game services, including World of Goo, Super Stickman Golf 2, Beach Buggy Blitz, Kingdom Rush, Eternity Warriors 2, and Osmos.

You can take advantage of the new services right away using the games services SDK included in Google Play services. For all the details, check out the Google Play games services documentation.

Location APIs

If you build location-aware Android apps, you’ll want to check out the new location APIs. They make it easy to build accurate, fast, and efficient apps, with new contextual features.

The Fused Location Provider intelligently manages the underlying location technology and gives you the best location according to your needs. We’ve simplified the location APIs and completely rewritten our location algorithm to make location more accurate, flexible and use less battery.

Using the new geofencing API, your app can set up geographic boundaries around specific locations and then receive notifications when the user enters or leaves those areas.

With apps becoming increasingly contextual, understanding what the user is doing is critical to surfacing the right content. A new activity recognition API makes it easy to check the the user’s current activity — still, walking, cycling, and in-vehicle — with very efficient use of the battery. We use low-power sensors and machine-learning classifiers to recognize the activity, giving you both both high accuracy and low battery usage.

To learn more, head over to our training classes at Making Your App Location Aware or dive directly into the reference docs.

Google Cloud Messaging

We’ve added APIs to make it easier to set up GCM in your apps, and in the service itself we’ve added new messaging capabilities for your apps to use.

A new registration API lets your app register with the service using a single method call and begin receiving messages as soon as the call returns.

In the GCM service itself we’ve added support for messaging over XMPP with the new GCM Cloud Connection Server (CCS). Your servers now have a persistent connection over which to send large numbers of messages, very quickly, and with no overhead. New APIs in Google Play services let apps send messages back upstream to third-party servers using CCS, without needing to manage network connections. This helps keep battery and data usage to a minimum.

Also new in the GCM service is a User Notifications API. This new API lets you synchronize notifications across a user’s multiple devices — when the user dismisses a notification on one device, the notification disappears automatically from all the other devices. To get started with GCM, head over to the developer documentation.

Google+ Cross-Platform Single Sign On

Many people use apps on multiple devices throughout the day, switching between their laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. After signing-in to an app on one device, it’s natural that when they pick up a different device and use the same app, they would expect to be signed in there as well.

To help you provide this kind of seamless transition between platforms and stay connected with users across devices, we’re adding Cross-Platform Single Sign On to our Google+ Sign-In capabilities.

If your app is already using Google+ Sign-In, you’ve already got support for Cross-Platform Single Sign On. This feature will be enabled automatically over the coming days.

Cross-Platform Single Sign On gives you a great way to build longer-running, cross-platform user experiences, and it dovetails perfectly with the new Google Play games services for bridging game state across devices using the cloud.

To learn more about Google+ Sign-In, check out http://developers.google.com/+.

More About Google Play Services

Google Play Services is our platform for offering you better integration with Google products, and providing new capabilities to use within your apps. To learn more about Google Play services and the APIs available to you through it, visit the Google Services area of the Android Developers site.