Google Adding Social Features to Google Play Games: Report

Google is expected to unveil new social features for its Android games, including multiplayer social gaming, at this week's Google I/O 2013 Developers Conference.

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Google is tying its Google+ social media services and more into its games using Google Play under wide-ranging gaming improvements and innovations that will be unveiled later this week at the annual Google I/O 2013 Developers Conference.

The news comes from a report by AndroidPolice, which claims that it obtained a copy of the latest APK, or Android application package file, used to update the Google Play app, according to the story. The new APK v3.1.36 for Google Play services will bring multiplayer functionality, leaderboards, player achievements lists and more, including the ability to save games to the cloud, said the report.

"3.1 is a massive update—the strings file, for instance, has more than doubled from 300 to 700 entries," reported AndroidPolice. "This is how Google is pushing out all the shared files for Google Play Games."

The Google Play services app is used to update Google apps and apps from Google Play, according to Google.

The new 3.1 version ties in closely with Google+, and 'has tons of gaming-related activities that you can bring up,' according to the report. "The big thing everyone asked for after our initial discovery of Play Games was a save syncing feature, and we're happy to announce that there's some of evidence of that in the new Play Services app."

Android game lovers will only have a few more days before they get all the details of the Google Play app upgrades that are rumored, because the Google I/O 2013 conference opens May 15 and runs through May 17 in San Francisco.

Android games and everything else Android will get a lot of attention at the conference with a full range of sessions that the company hopes will continue to advance development of cool and useful new apps for the global market-leading mobile operating system.

Scheduled are 34 Android sessions and three code labs, covering design, development and distribution, according to an earlier eWEEK report.

Android session topics include "What's New in Android Developer Tools," "Practical Android Games Development," "In-App Billing Version 3," "Enabling Blind and Low-Vision Accessibility on Android," "What's New in Google Play Services," "Android Graphics Performance," "Taking Advantage of Android Platform Features" and "The New Android SDK Build System."

Google just released its official Google I/O 2013 conference companion app that can be used at the conference or by online viewers to follow the goings-on. The free new app supports devices running Android 2.3+, and is optimized for phones and tablets.

Online visitors will be able to watch what's happening at the conference through several means, according to Google. Live streaming will run on and official conference announcements will be posted live through the Google I/O home page and on the +Google Developers page.

Previously announced for Google I/O 2013 are a wide range of Google Maps sessions, including a special session on "Google Maps: Into the Future," as well as a special Google Maps demo from inside a 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 sports car. Other Maps-related sessions include "Design Principles for Maps, "Making Location Meaningful With Google Maps APIs," "Dive Into Underwater Street View" and a "Fireside Chat With the Google Maps Team." All the sessions will be available on YouTube after Google I/O.