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.
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.
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.
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.