Android lead Hugo Barra just announced a number of new APIs for Android developers as part of a Google Play services update. Aside from the highly-anticipated new gaming features, Barra outlined updates to Android location-based tools, Google Cloud Messaging, and Google+ sign-ins.
There are three new location-based APIs: fused location provider gives developers a new low-power location finding mode that uses less than one percent of battery per hour, which should make GPS-enabled apps a bit less power-hungry. There's also a new geofencing feature, which Barra said was a "big ask" from developers. The last is activity recognition, which users the accelerometer to determine whether you're walking, riding a bike, and so forth — that should be a big help in adding fitness-tracking features to Android devices.
The Google+ additions builds on the new sign-in features that have been rolling out recently — the big feature is a cross-platform single sign-on with Google+. It's the same kind of account-based sign in feature found in Facebook or Twitter, but you will get automatically prompted to download and install the Android app on our tablet or phone through the Google Play store. Once you open that app, you're automatically logged in with your Google+ account.
There are also some significant updates to Google Cloud Messaging, which was announced last year. Barra said that 17 billion GCM messages are sent per day. Now, GCM is part of Google Play service, with a number of improvements. There's now a persistent connection from an app's servers, messages can now be sent "upstream" (sending data from app to servers), and GCM can sync notifications across devices — something that the crowd definitely appreciated. Overall, it's a nice set of API updates that'll help Android developers make their apps better, but we'll have to wait and see exactly how they get implemented.