Google has finished rolling out Google Play services 8.1 to Android devices, which brings a number of new APIs that developers can now take advantage of. It is the first release to support runtime permissions on devices running Android 6.0. and will obtain all the permissions it needs to support its APIs. As a result, your apps won’t normally need to request permissions to use them. This permissions model streamlines the app install and auto-update process, which Google first announced at Google I/O earlier this year.
To ensure users are getting enough control over which permissions are granted to their mobile devices, it’s important for Android developers to implement this new permissions model into their apps. Not only the app can declare the permissions it’s going to need, but permissions will be divided into groups based on their functionality, making the organization easier. That’s not the only new feature to come along with 8.1. With the release of the SDK for Google Play Services 8.1, developers can start playing with the new features now, which along with Marshmallow’s granular permissions includes application invites, ambient mode maps, Player Stats API for Play Games and a Nearby Status Listener.
Nearby Status Listener – It lets you build clear and simple interactions between nearby devices. When an active Nearby publish or subscribe expires, this new addition will let your app receive callbacks, which will free you from tracking the TTL and allow your app’s user interface to more accurately reflect whether or not Nearby is active. Google Nearby lets apps communicate with nearby devices, and traditionally it would hog up resources. But this update claims to improve accuracy and make it easy to enable apps across devices to talk to one another.
App Invites – This new feature allows you to implement a way for existing Android and iOS users to invite their Google contacts via SMS or email to try your app. You can customize the email invitation, including adding a custom image, and even specifying a call-to-action button text. Developers will need to enable this before you see it in any of the Android apps on your device.
Play Games Player Stats API – It lets developers to better tailor the user experience to specific segments of players. In an example, Google said that the most valuable players could be rewarded with a special welcome back message when returning to the game.
Ambient Mode Maps – It brings ambient mode support to the Google Maps Android API. This means a simplified low-color rendering of the map will be seen in Google Maps. The benefit here is a reduction in power requirements while maintaining the camera and zoom levels for the sake of context by lighting fewer pixels.
Breaking Changes – The changes made to GoogleApiClient and PendingResult, making them abstract classes, might lead to breaking changes in your code. Google says developers need to be attentive to their code to ensure it is clean.
To develop an app using the Google Play services APIs, you need to set up your project with the Google Play services SDK. To test your app when using the Google Play services SDK, you must use either:
- A compatible Android device that runs Android 2.3 or higher and includes Google Play Store.
- The Android emulator with an AVD that runs the Google APIs platform based on Android 4.2.2 or higher.
Google Play delivers service updates for users on Android 2.3 and higher through the Google Play Store app. This is the first update to Google Play services since last month, when new APIs were made available that let developers utilize face detection, barcode recognition, and facilitated Nearby Messages. Google is encouraging developers to download the revised Google Play Services SDK for the Android SDK Manager. With Android 6.0 Marshmallow perched for release, early adopters will be anxious to give the new platform a whirl.