Google Play Services Updated to v4.4 with new APIs and features

Google Play services is receiving a global update to v4.4 with a bunch of new features an APIs to help developers keep making awesome apps and games. There are major enhancements to Google Maps Android API with introduction of Street View, plus new features like Location API, extended Game Services and new APIs for Mobile Ads and Google Wallet.

The update seems mostly about giving developers more options to feature enhance their apps, and nothing that a normal user could take advantage of.

Anyway, below is a brief summary of all the new features and APIs introduce with Google Play services v4.4 (from Android developers blog):

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.

Also there are a few new permissions the Google Play services app now asks for:

Google Play service v4.4 new permissions
  • Directly call phone numbers
  • Read your text messages (SMS or MMS)
  • Receive text messages (SMS)
  • Read call log
  • Disable your screen lock
  • Change network connectivity
  • Retrieve running apps
  • Send sticky broadcast

Grab the Google Play services APK v4.4 from the link below and install it on your Anroid device just like you’d install any other APK file.

Need help installing APK files? Follow our noob-proof guide on → How to install APK files on Android.

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Shivam is our resident designer and web developer who also enjoys writing. He loves to meditate, drive on the freeways and hunt for snipers during his Call Of Duty playtime. Email: shivam@theandroidsoul.com