Google Play services 4.3 has now been rolled out to the world, and it contains a number of features you can use to improve your apps. Specifically, this version adds some new members to the Google Play services family: Google Analytics API, Tag Manager, and the Address API. We’ve also made some great enhancements to the existing APIs; everything to make sure you stay on top of the app game out there.
Here are the highlights of the 4.3 release.
Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager
The Analytics API and Google Tag Manager has existed for Android for some time as standalone technologies, but with this release we are incorporating them as first class citizens in Google Play services. Those of you that are used to the API will find it very similar to previous versions, and if you have not used it before we strongly encourage you to take a look at it.
Google Analytics allows you to get detailed statistics on how you app is being used by your users, for example what functionality of your app is being used the most, or which activity triggers users to convert from an advertised version of an app to paid one. Google Tag Manager lets you change characteristics of your app on-the-fly, for example colors, without having to push an update from Google Play.
Google Play Games services Update
The furious speed of innovation in Android mobile gaming has not slowed down and neither have we when it comes to packing the Google Play Game services API with features.
With this release, we are introducing game gifts, which allows players to send virtual in-game requests to anyone in their Google+ circles or through player search. Using this feature, the player can send a 'wish' request to ask another player for an in-game item or benefit, or a 'gift' request to grant an item or benefit to another player.
This is a great way for a game to be more engaging by increasing cross player collaboration and social connections. We are therefore glad to add this functionality as an inherent part of the Games API, it is an much-wanted extension to the multi-player functionality included a couple of releases ago. For more information, see: Unlocking the power of Google for your games.
The Google Drive for Android API was just recently added as a member of the Google Play services API family. This release adds a number of important features:
- Pinning - You can now pin files that should be kept up to date locally, ensuring that it is available when the user is offline. This is great for users that need to use your app with limited or no connectivity
- App Folders - An app often needs to create files which are not visible to the user, for example to store temporary files in a photo editor. This can now be done using App Folders, a feature is analogous to Application Data Folders in the Google Drive API
- Change Notifications - You can now register a callback to receive notifications when a file or folder is changed. This mean you no longer need to query Drive continuously to check if the data has changed, just put a change notification on it
In addition to the above, we've also added the ability to access a number of new metadata fields.
This release will also includes a new Address API, which allows developers to request access to addresses for example to fill out a delivery address form. The kicker is the convenience for the user; a user interface component is presented where they select the desired address, and bang, the entire form is filled out. Developers have been relying on Location data which works very well, but this API shall cater for cases where the Location data is either not accurate or the user actually wants to use a different address than their current physical location. This should sound great to anyone who has done any online shopping during the last decade or so.
That’s it for this time. Now go to work and incorporate these new features to make your apps even better!
And stay tuned for future updates.
For the release video, please see:
DevBytes: Google Play Services 4.3
For details on the APIs, please see:
Google Tag Manager
Google Play Games services Gifts
Google Drive Android API - Change Events
Google Drive Android API - Pinning
Google Drive Android API - App Folder