Besides new consumer services, Google announced several new developer initiatives at Google I/O 2013, its ongoing annual developer conference at Moscone Center, San Francisco. Here is a quick lowdown on all the announcements:
Google Play Services: Google introduced several new APIs for Android developers as part of a new Google Play Services update. For the uninitiated, Google Play Services allows app developers to make use of various Google services like Google Maps and Google+ among others within their apps. Among the new APIs announced include new version of Google Maps Android API, improved Google Cloud Messaging APIs and Google+ Sign In APIs.
Google announced three new location APIs – Fused Location Provider which uses a new low power location finding mode that apparently uses less than one percent of battery per hour, Geofencing which allows developers to define virtual boundaries for a real-world geographic area and setup location-based trigger actions and Activity recognition which allows developers to use the device’s accelerometer data and machine learning to detect user activities like walking, driving and biking among others.
Google also rolled out an improved cross platform Google+ single sign on mechanism, which works similar to the Facebook and Twitter single sign on mechanisms but also prompts users to automatically download and install the Android app on their tablet and phone through Play Store. The company has introduced API tools to allow developers make cross-client authentication and authorization, particularly between Android and web apps.
Google Cloud Messaging: It introduced new features for Google Cloud Messaging like support for persistent connections from your servers, upstream messaging to send data from app to servers and the ability to sync notifications across devices i.e. if the user dismisses a notification on their Android phone, it gets dismissed on tablets and vice versa. Google claimed that 60% of the top Android apps are using Google Cloud Messaging in their apps and the company is sending around 200,000 messages every second and 17 billion messages a day. However, do note that these probably include duplicate notifications sent to an user across various Android devices.
Google Play Game Services: Google announced a new service called Google Play Game Services, which will offer social features to game developers like Cloud Save which will allow users to save player progression, game state and game progress sync across devices along with Achievements and Leaderboard features integrated with Google+ circles. These features will be available for game titles across Android, iOS and the Web.
Android devices will get an additional feature of turn-based and real-time multiplayer service with Google+ integration. Google informed that these new features have been rolled to all Android devices running on Android 2.2 and later, through an update to the Play Services app. Some of the initial game titles offering these features include World of Goo, Super Stickman Golf 2, Beach Buggy Blitz, Kingdom Rush, Eternity Warriors 2, and Osmos.
Google Play Developer Console: Google introduced five new features to Google Play developer console. These include an App translation service, which allows developers to purchase professional translations directly in the dev console, Referral tracking which lets developers see which ads have worked for them and which haven’t, Revenue Graphs which shows developers total app revenue in the last day, week and month with country-specific filters and Beta Testing & Staged Rollouts which allows developers to distribute their apps for alpha and beta testing or do staged rollouts by rolling it out to a specific percentage of the app userbase. The access is controlled by Google+ and user feedback will not be public.
It also offers app optimization tips for tablet app developers and plans to offer Google Analytics Integration later in the summer.
New Developer Tools: Google unveiled a new dedicated IDE (Integrated Developer Environment) called Android Studio for app developers who build Android apps. The IDE is currently available as an early access preview on the Android Developer website and is compatible with Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Some of the prominent features include code editing, ability to build international versions of their respective apps. Google Cloud Messaging integration is also expected soon. (Video Demo)
Google Wallet Instant Buy: Google Wallet also debuted a new Instant Buy Android API, which allows third party developers to integrate payment features into their apps to offer physical goods and services. The company claims to offer a faster checkout experience to Android users through this API, by sending the user’s billing or shipping information directly to the developer with the user’s permission. It also claims to have signed up partners like AirBnB, Booking.com, Expedia, Fancy, Priceline, Rue La La and Uber among others and is currently allowing US Android developers to sign up for the API. (Video Demo)
Google Compute Engine: Google has now extended its infrastructure as a service, Google Compute Engine to all developers. Google Compute Engine was launched by Google in limited preview in Google I/O 2012 and allows developers to run linux virtual machines (VMs) on the same infrastructure that supports Google. Google has now introduced new features like Sub-hour billing, Shared-core instances and Advanced Routing.
It has also launched Cloud Datastore, which is a fully managed and schemaless solution for storing non-relational data. Google claimed that over 3 million applications and over 300,000 unique developers are currently using Google’s Cloud Platform.