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Google Play Services 4.4 Rolling Out With Running/Walking Recognition, Other Goodies

Google announced that Google Play services 4.4 have begun rolling out worldwide, today. The jump from 4.3 to 4.4 introduces a handful of useful tools for developers, like the ability to embed Street View imagery in apps,  detect activities like running or walking, and display in-app promo ads. There are indoor map API add-ons, minor changes in Games Services (dealing with Game Gifts), and a reduction in the work involved to place a “Buy With Google” button in an app.

You can find the full list of detailed changes below and at the source link.

The rollout has already started, but it will likely take some time to complete. And by the way, Google noted in today’s release that Google I/O will be here next month. Things should get even more exciting then. 

Google Maps Android API

Starting with a much anticipated announcement for the Google Maps Android API: Introducing Street View. You can now embed Street View imagery into an activity enabling your users to explore the world through panoramic 360-degree views. Programmatically control the zoom and orientation (tilt and bearing) of the Street View camera, and animate the camera movements over a given duration. Here is an example of what you can do with the API, where the user navigates forward one step:

We’ve also added more features to the Indoor Maps feature of the API. You can turn the default floor picker off – useful if you want to build your own. You can also detect when a new building comes into focus, and find the currently-active building and floor. Great if you want to show custom markup for the active level, for example.

Activity Recognition

And while we are on the topic of maps, let’s turn to some news in the Location API. For those of you that have used this API, you may have seen the ability already there to detect if the device is in a vehicle, on a bicycle, on foot, still, or tilting.

In this release, two new activity detectors have been added: Running, and Walking. So a great opportunity to expand your app to be even more responsive to your users. And for you that have not worked with this capability earlier, we hardly need to tell the cool things you can do with it. Just imagine combining this capability with features in Maps, Games Services, and other parts of Location..

Games Services Update

In the 4.3 release we introduced Game Gifts, which allows you to request gifts or wishes. And although there are no external API changes this time, the default requests sending UI has been extended to now allow the user to select multiple Game Gifts recipients. For your games this means more collaboration and social engagement between your players.

Mobile Ads

For Mobile Ads, we’ve added new APIs for publishers to display in-app promo ads, which enables users to purchase advertised items directly. We’re offering app developers control of targeting specific user segments with ads, for example offering high-value users an ad for product A, or new users with an ad for product B, etc.

With these extensions, users can conveniently purchase in-app items that interest them, advertisers can reach consumers, and your app connects the dots; a win-win-win in other words.

Wallet Fragments

For the Instant Buy API, we’ve now reduced the work involved to place a Buy With Google button in an app. The WalletFragment API introduced in this release makes it extremely easy to integrate Google Wallet Instant Buy with an existing app. Just configure these fragments and add them to your app.

Via:  Google Developers
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  • Daniel Traynor
  • Arronsammy

    I knew something was going ahead out of sight, my Play administrations application bounced a couple of position up on the battery percent utilization graph goo.gl/JGTh9o

  • Nayners
    • EvanTheGamer

      Good lookin’ out.

  • crazed_z06

    I wish Google would focus on battery life

    • Tyler

      Just imagine if we had the efficency that iOS has with the iPhone’s 1400mAh battery. Almost all android phones would get a significant jump in battery life.

      • crazed_z06

        Yup.. It might sound blasphemous, but I’m about at my wit’s end fighting with Android battery issues. Been doing this since the Droid X.

        I might have to go with the iphone 6.

        • romdude

          Turned my android to a glorified feature phone with optional smartness. Turn on power saying mode. Use appopps to deny apps that were causing wakelocks or disable them and use their browser version. With light use and lux auto brightness, I get about 20 to 30 percent drain per day with my HTC one m7. Light usage includes phone calls, some pics, messages and occasional music or browsing.

        • michael arazan

          My friend has to charge his iphone at least twice a day

        • JRomeo

          Half the iPhone users I know use one of those battery extending cases on their iPhone. its not much more different.

    • David Nguyen

      KK 4.4 is not enough? I get outstanding battery life on my Note 3 on top of my phone being a Note 3.

      • crazed_z06

        Well Im on Verizon, so no KK now…

        If I turn on Google Now and everything, NLP Wakelocks and such go crazy. Cant even use all the features on the phone without Google Services burning through battery.

  • Peter Milano

    APK link please!!!!

    • grumpyfuzz

      Check out Android police, they have one.

  • Dt Bell

    I still have maps 7.7 on my N5, no updates yet.
    Yet as I speak @ 5:32 PM 05/07/2014 the 8.0 update rolls into the 518 area code,

    • Ryuuie

      Not really.

      Google updates via device, not area code. You just got lucky.

      It’s more like science. 😛

      • Dt Bell

        ; )

  • Awaz

    I hope it fixes the battery draining problem in HTC one m7!

    • ReturnOfTheMack

      Depends if Google Play Services is causing your battery issues. I don’t have that problem with my M7 at all though.

    • romdude

      Look at my post above. Now just twenty to thirty percent drain power day on light use. I use the same phone. Location should be on battery saving mode too.

  • grumpyfuzz

    Fix the NLP Collector Wake locks? :]

    • coolsilver

      Especially since they have two more ways to constantly poll for data.

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    • cmbeid

      I do not see many people complaining about that. But the three Nexus 5’s that I have had all had that issue.

      • grumpyfuzz

        See this on my Nexus 5 as well. It’s really annoying, and should be fixed already

    • JRomeo

      I have a Nexus5………….. but I do not know what a “NLP Collector Wake Lock” is. What is that? and how would I know if i have that same issue on my Nexus 5?

  • Jason Kahn

    I knew something was going on in the background, my Play services app jumped a few position up on the battery percent usage chart

  • EvanTheGamer


    Now about the “Game Gifts”…I remember hearing something about that awhile ago, but didn’t really look much into it. What does that mean exactly? Are users able to gift games to other users or is that completely different than what I’m thinking? If anyone cares to fill me in, I’d be grateful. 🙂

    • cadtek91

      I’m thinking it’s for “in-game” gifts?

      • EvanTheGamer

        Yeah, it is. Just updated my comment.

        That’s cool and all, but we really need a way to buy games and send them to other people.

  • BoFiS

    No link to an APK for the impatient among us? 😉

    • EvanTheGamer

      Bet someone will have an .APK for Google Game Services 4.4 ready for our updating pleasure in a matter of minutes. The great Android community is pretty darn speedy that way, let me tell you.

      • Kevin

        You mean the Android Police community?

        • Jake

          No, he didn’t.

          • EvanTheGamer

            Just meant in general, really. But the XDA Android Developers community is really the best modding community out there, I’d have to say.

        • EvanTheGamer

          EDIT: Whoops. Just realized why you said that. Just read grumpyfuzz’s comment above. Doh! haha.

          If I meant any Android community, it would be the XDA Android Developers community. But I imagine anyone with the know how and already has the latest version of Google Game Services can pull the .APK and post it up here.

    • ReturnOfTheMack

      Google Play services apk’s are devices specific so that probably won’t happen.

      • grumpyfuzz

        Android police has one 😛