One of the ways Google keeps Android fresh on a regular basis is by updating Google Play Services on handsets. This approach helps reduce fragmentation because it brings new features to both new and old Android phones without a full software update. And Google is doing that again, rolling out version 7 of Google Play Services to phones this week.
In a post on the Google Android Developer blog, the company outlined a few of the improvements that you’ll see with Google Play Services 7.0, provided developers take advantage of them. Here are a few new tidbits you’ll see soon in [company]Google[/company] Android apps.
There’s a new location check, for example, with apps that use your proximity. Before this update, an app would check to see what locations settings you chose, i.e.: Wi-Fi, cellular networks, and/or GPS. If you wanted to change that in-app, you really couldn’t. Instead, to enable finer location controls, the app would boot you to the Android settings for you to make the changes. With Google Play Services 7.0, this can be done in-app for a better experience.
Also included with the update are several new Google Fit APIs. These are broken out from what used to be a single API for all sensor data to track movement, exercise and the like. The end benefit may not be visually apparent, but Google says that using the individual sensor APIs for Google Fit will significantly reduce memory usage, which keeps your phone moving along.
Lastly, Google Play Services adds support for gamers. Specifically, developers can use the new Nearby Connections API to turn smartphones and tablets into second-screen gaming controllers for games on a TV.
Again, all of these APIs, as well as others, in Google Play Services 7.0 will be available on phones running Android 2.3 or better, which is nearly the entire user base for Google Android phones. There’s no reason an old phone can’t have new features.