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Google Play Services 8.1 SDK is ready, brings Maps ambient mode and other new tools

Derek Walter | Sept. 28, 2015
Developers have a lot more to play with, such as app invites, permissions, and a player stats API.

150817 google marshmallow 01
A statue of Google's Android Marshmallow operating system sits on the Google campus in Mountain View on August 17, 2015. Credit: Martyn Williams

The Google Play Services 8.1 APK is now ready for developers, who can put many new features to use like ambient maps mode and app invites.

Google’s Magnus Hyttsten took to YouTube for another zany video that outlines the new tricks. While Play Services 8.1 has been rolling out for a while, Google typically gives more details about what’s new when the rollout is complete and all the new APIs are ready.

With Ambient Mode, Google Maps will be able to render in a simple, low-color version on your Android Wear watch, much like some ambient watch faces.

The app invites tool will allow you to tap into your Google contacts to invite others to check out the app via email or SMS. Developers will need to enable this before you see it in any of the Android apps on your device.

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Invite friends to check out that cool, new app you’ve been playing with. Credit: Android Developers Blog

Play Games lets developers personalize the gaming experience a bit more. For example, you may see a welcome back message and reward when returning to a game that you’ve ignored for a while.

The impact on you: Android updates may take forever, but new features actually roll out pretty quickly thanks to Google Play Services. If you’re not up-to-speed on a lot of the technical details, the takeaway is that Play Services gives developers new tools whenever Google updates it, so they don’t need to wait for new versions of Android to slow through the ecosystem.


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