Google is rolling out Play Services 5.0 out to phones and tablets beginning today, bringing with it enhancements to existing services and introducing a new one for Android Wear. Of course, this is hardly as exciting as Android L, but receiving any sort of Android-related update is pretty exciting right now.
Google Play Services isn't an app, so much as underlying software that a lot of other apps rely upon. With the leap to 5.0, Google adds the necessary support for Android Wear, the Quests and Saved Games updates for Play Games, and closed-captioning on Google Cast (the media service used by Chromecast).
Here's what the latest Google Play Services includes the following:
- Services for Android wearables — Your apps can more easily communicate and sync with code running on Android wearables through an automatically synchronized, persistent data store and a reliable messaging interface.
- Play Games services — Build a great gaming experience with Quests, which allow event-based challenges for players to compete for rewards, Saved Games (a snapshot API allow synchronization of game data along with a cover-image and description), and Game Profile (providing experience points for players).
- App Indexing API — Surface deep content in your native mobile applications on Google search and drive additional user engagement.
- Google Cast — Use media tracks to enable closed-caption support for Chromecast.
- Drive — Sort query results, create offline folders, and select any mime type in the file picker by default.
- Wallet — Build a "Save to Wallet" button for offers directly into your app; use geo-fenced in-store notifications to prompt the user to show and scan digital cards. Split tender allows payment to be split between Wallet Balance and a credit/debit card in Google Wallet.
- Analytics — Get insights into the full user journey and understand how different user acquisition campaigns are performing with Enhanced Ecommerce, letting you measure product impressions, product clicks, and more.
- Mobile Ads — Use improved in-app purchase ads and integrations for the Play store in-app purchase API client.
- Dynamic Security Provider — Offers an alternative to the platform's secure networking APIs that can be updated more frequently, for faster delivery of security patches.
The most notable and interesting for the end user will likely be the introduction of Android Wear services, which allow apps to talk to wearable devices. You'll need this update before your fancy new Android Wear watch will work.
The update is rolling out now, but it can take several days before it shows up on your phone.