Google has released a new version of Google Play Services, giving Android developers a chance to build more new features into their applications, including turn-based multiplayer support and improved battery life capabilities.
The new Version 4.1 of Google Play Services, which is already rolling out to users, was announced in a Jan. 9 post on the Android Developers Blog. Once the rollout has completed, developers will be able to download the Software Developer’s Kit through the Android SDK manager and get started with the new APIs that are included in the latest release, according to the post.
One of the key features of the new version is that it supports turn-based multiplayer games, according to Google. Another benefit of Version 4.1 is that it also includes a preliminary API for integrating Google Drive into apps, which improves battery life for all users with Google Location Reporting enabled.
By incorporating the new turn-based multiplayer capabilities, developers can build asynchronous games to play with friends and auto-matched players, supporting two to eight players per game, the post states. “When players take turns, their turn data is uploaded to Play Services and shared with other players automatically.”
Also included is an optional new “Connecting to Play Games” transition animation during player sign-in that appears before the permission dialog appears, according to the post. “This helps contextualize the permission dialog, especially in games that ask for sign in on game start.”
The developer preview of the new Google Drive API for Android will help developers begin to find ways to use Google Drive with their apps. “You can use it to easily read and write files in Google Drive so they’re available across devices and on the web. Users can work with files offline too—changes are synced with Google Drive automatically when they reconnect,” the post continues.
Under Version 4.1, the Google Mobile Ads SDK now fully supports 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, according to the post.
The latest version also provides improved integration with Google+, which makes it easier for users to share with their friends from their apps, the post states. Those improvements include better auto-complete and suggested recipients from Gmail contacts, device contacts and people on Google+.
Google Updates Google Play Services for Application Developers
Google Play Games, which is Google’s gaming platform for Android and iOS devices and for the Web, was introduced by the company earlier in early 2013. Changes are coming to the Google Play store in February 2014 that make it easier for game developers to categorize and market their game apps. New categories to be introduced, such as Simulation, Role Playing and Educational, will help customers find the games and help developers match their wares to customers who are seeking them. The new categories won’t change the settings for existing games on Google Play until the new categories go live in February.
In December 2013, Google added additional new gaming features for Android apps developers, including the ability to add realistic two-dimensional physics actions to their games for fans.
In November 2013, Google launched an inexpensive language translation service for Android developers to help them get their apps translated so they can sell them in other countries. The new service is expected to cost about $75 for a small app to about $150 for a large app for each language translation. The App Translation Service, which was previewed in May 2013 at the Google I/O developer’s conference, helps Android developers find new markets for their apps. Many app developers participated in the App Translation Service pilot program earlier this year, including the developers of “Zombie Ragdoll,” who used the service to launch their new game simultaneously in 20 languages in August 2013.
In October 2013, Google added several new developer tools to its maturing Google Play Games platform so that developers can continue to improve and grow their game apps for consumers and gaming fanatics. The upgrades included new alerts to developers for errant coding or other problems that are found in the apps they are building for consumers, as well as new features that make it easier to see and review statistics about players and their activities with the apps, right in the Google Play Developer Console. Also added was more cloud storage so that players can save their games for play at a later date using Cloud Save, which is one of the most popular features for Android game developers.
In July 2013, Google began a push to encourage Android developers to create more games for tablets to attract game players to the popular devices. To help grow that market more, Google released its new Google Play Games app, which lets game players link up with friends online so they can see what they are playing and play together.
In April 2013, Google’s Play store gained new capabilities that allow app developers to better showcase their new apps when consumers search for them using their mobile devices in the app-filled store. App developers can now upload screen shots of their apps running on 7-inch and 10-inch tablets so consumers can see what those apps will look like on their similar devices, which Google and the developers hope will continue to spur even more sales of innovative and useful apps in the store.
Google Play, which was created in March 2012 to combine what until then were separate sites where Android lovers could buy their favorite apps, music and ebooks, has been a huge hit. Before Google Play, users had to shop through the individual Android Market, Google Music and Google e-Bookstore sites.