Google Play Services has been around for a few years now, and Google has made it better and better with each new version. It started out as a way for Google to bring new API's to devices that aren't on the latest version of Android. This way, users are able to use the latest features from Google without having to buy a new smartphone. With Google I/O kicking off today, it was expected that we'd see a new version of Google Play Services, and we got just that. With it being such a jump in version numbers, it's expected that this is a big update and it is.
Kicking things off, Google announced that they are continuing to update BLE beacon scanning in Nearby Messages. Any app that has ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION is able to scan for beacons via Nearby. This is done without needing to ask for an additional permission. Ads got a pretty big update with Google Play Services 9.0. There's a new Initialization method here, that publishers are able to use to kick off the SDK at app start. Google is also introducing Native Ads Express. With this new ads format, publishers are able to define CSS templates for their ad units. These templates can define things like fonts, colors, positioning and other style information.
Google also debuted two new API's in this update. There's the Player Stats API and the Video Recording API. Let's start off with Player Stats API. This API now has Predictive Analytics, which Google says will help developers identify which groups of players are likely to spend or uninstall the game. There are also new predictions that show how much a player is likely to spend within a 28-day period. The Video Recording API allows developers the ability for users to share their videos with their friends using YouTube. Google also mentions that "in the coming months, we are also adding live streaming functionality to allow your fans to broadcast their gameplay experiences in real time on YouTube."
That's about it for Google Play Services 9.0. You should be getting the update (it updates behind the scenes, you likely won't see it) in the next few days if you haven't gotten it already.