Google Play Services 5.0 Now Available Globally

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2014-07-03
Google Play Services 5.0

Google Play Services 5.0 Now Available Globally

Google has a lot on its plate with everything from Android to self-driving cars to wearable devices, Chromecast and much more, so it has released its new Google Play Services 5.0 application to developers worldwide so they can customize their apps to run on Google's various platforms and products.

The global availability of the new Play Services 5.0 was announced in a July 2 post on the Android Developers Blog

"This release introduces Android wearable services APIs, Dynamic Security Provider and App Indexing, whilst also including updates to the Google Play game services, Cast, Drive, Wallet, Analytics and Mobile Ads," the post announced.

Google had previewed Play Services 5.0 in late June at the annual Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco, unveiling highlights of its new capabilities.

Among the key features in the latest Play Services toolkit for developers are a new set of APIs that make it easier for apps to communicate with Android wearables, according to Google. "The APIs provide an automatically synchronized, persistent data store and a low-latency messaging interface that lets you sync data, exchange control messages and transfer assets."

Also included is a new API that apps can use to easily install a dynamic security provider, the post explained. "The dynamic security provider includes a replacement for the platform's secure networking APIs, which can be updated frequently for rapid delivery of security patches. The current version includes fixes for recent issues identified in OpenSSL."

Google Play game services get an upgrade with a new feature called "Quests," which are a new set of APIs that permit the creation of in-game challenges for players to try to complete within a set time limit, adding to the excitement and intensity of the games. "To do this, you can send game activity data to the Quests service whenever a player successfully wins a level, kills an alien or saves a rare black sheep, for example. This tells Quests what's going on in the game, and you can use that game activity to create new Quests. By running Quests on a regular basis, you can create an unlimited number of new player experiences to drive re-engagement and retention."

Also new is a saved game snapshot API that allows a player's game progress to be stored to the cloud for use across many screens, according to Google. The API will also allow the storage of a cover image for a game session, as well as a description and a notation about the time that the game was played, the post explained.

"Players never play level 1 again when they have their progress stored with Google, and they can see where they left off when you attach a cover image and description. Adding cover images and descriptions provides additional context on the player's progress and helps drive re-engagement through the Play Games app," according to the post.

An App Indexing API in Play Services 5.0 gives developers the ability to notify Google about deep links in their native mobile applications so they can work to drive additional user engagement, according to Google.

"Integrating with the App Indexing API allows the Google Search app to serve up your app's history to users as instant Search suggestions, providing fast and easy access to inner pages in your app. The deep links reported using the App Indexing API are also used by Google to index your app's content and surface them as deep links to Google search result," Google said.

Google Play Services 5.0 Now Available Globally

Google Wallet also gets new capabilities in Play Services 5.0, which aims to help developers further monetize their apps creations. "Wallet objects from Google take physical objects (like loyalty cards, offers) from your wallet and store them in the cloud," the post states. "In this release, Wallet adds 'Save to Wallet' button support for offers. When a user clicks 'Save to Wallet,' the offer gets saved and shows up in the user's Google Wallet app. Geo-fenced in-store notifications prompt the user to show and scan digital cards at point-of-sale, driving higher redemption. This also frees the user from having to carry around offers and loyalty cards."

Updated and expanded analytics for apps developers are also included in the new release, providing more information about buyers and their purchasing activity, including their viewing of product details, shopping carts, transactions, refunds and more. "Together, they help users gain deeper insights into the performance of their business, including how far users progress through the shopping funnel and where they are abandoning in the purchase process. Enhanced Ecommerce also allows users to analyze the effectiveness of their marketing and merchandising efforts, including the impact of internal promotions, coupons and affiliate marketing programs."

Google last updated Play Services in May 2014 when it released Play Services 4.4, giving app developers new features including in-app Street View imagery capabilities and the ability for apps to recognize the activities of users.

Version 4.1 of Google Play services was released in January 2014, according to an eWEEK report. That version included a wide swath of new features such as turn-based multiplayer support and improved battery-life capabilities. It also included a preliminary API for integrating Google Drive into apps. Under Version 4.1, the Google Mobile Ads SDK fully supported DoubleClick for Publishers, DoubleClick Ad Exchange and Search Ads for Mobile Apps, which means that developers can use a new publisher-provided location API to provide Google with a user's location for ad serving placement on mobile devices. Version 4.1 also provided improved integration with Google+, which makes it easier for users to share with their friends from their apps.

Google Play Games, which is Google's gaming platform for Android and iOS devices and for the Web, was introduced by the company in early 2013.

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