Google announced an update to Play Services yesterday that adds a bunch of new functionality for our Android apps.
My favorite is an update for the Google Maps Android API that lets apps tap into Street View. This will let devs embed Street View images directly into their apps, anytime they want. There are new Indoor Maps functions too. The Location API got a nice update, too, adding two brand new activity detectors. Now your phone will be able to sense when you are Running or Walking. The Location API could already sense when you were driving, on a bicycle, or standing still. This update can help your phone guide you when you’re casually strolling or sprinting through city streets.
These updates are coming with the new Google Play Services 4.4 that will be rolling out to users over the new few weeks or so. Google Play Services is a background resource that allows Android devs to use a slew of different Android services. It also lets Google push important updates to our devices without the need for a full-fledged OS update.
Google Play Services 4.4 brings some other updates with it too. Games Services got a small tweak. It now allows you to send Game Gifts to multiple recipients. There are new changes to the Mobile Ads API as well as something called Wallet Fragments. Wallet Fragments makes it easier than ever to integrate Google Wallet Instant Buy into existing apps. Google is still trying to make Google Wallet appealing to us.
Google Play Services is a huge part of what makes Android an attractive platform for developers and a simple and secure one for users. Devs can drop small snippets of code into their apps that give them access to Maps, Drive, and other Google services without needing to do a ton of grunt work. Having access to contextual information turns into a better user experience because apps can talk to each and pass information back and forth. Play Services makes fragmentation less of an issue too, as it’s been pushed out to pretty much every Android device running 2.3 Gingerbread or higher.