By now, many Android users should be aware that Google Play Services is a big part of the Android operating system. It isn’t literally injected into every aspect of the platform, but many of the most-used apps and services that come from Google rely on it, as do certain functions of the OS, and so Google keeps Play Services pretty up to date when they can. The most recent version of Play Services is version 8.4, and while there aren’t a whole lot of changes to speak of at the moment, there are a couple that will be somewhat noticeable and even more to look forward to in future updates.
One of the new functions Android users can look forward to is the capability to more easily share apps with those around us. According to a string found in the teardown, Play Services will eventually enable the ability to share apps with others using the Nearby API, alleviating any need to send an app invite through more traditional means like texts or email, or more recent methods like NFC. This should be extremely useful to anyone who is finding themselves constantly introducing other people to the latest applications they’re trying out. So if you find yourself a trendsetter and someone who just generally notices new apps first, this is something you may want to keep an eye on.
Google also looks to be finalizing preparation for the Family Sharing feature that will be included within the Play Store soon, which will allow family members or a group of friends to create a family group to share content as well as purchase method for buyings apps, games, and other content from the Play Store. With an upcoming update to Play Services, Google looks to be capping off all the necessary parts for the function to work as they intend it to, including details of how things are managed and organized. Users in a family group will only be able to make purchases with one payment method that is set by the manager of the group. You can also only be in one family group at a time, and should you choose to leave for another you are only allowed to do so once in a 12-month time frame. It is possible for family members to share content like apps, books, music, and movies, and Google is only going to allow personal Google accounts to be attached to family groups. Whether or not this ever changes is unclear. What’s new in this most recent version of Play Services and is available now is a new option to allow 720p video output for Android Auto-powered head units, and Google has given a slight visual update to the smart lock screen complete with colored icons and a new gray background design instead of the plain white.