Last Updated: March 25th, 2014

An update to Google Play Services is now being released to devices worldwide. This release will be more of interest to developers than end users, but there is actually quite a lot here. In addition to some updates to Play Games services and the Drive API, Google has brought Analytics, Tag Manger, and a new Address API into the fold as well.


Google Play Games

The big story here is the addition of game gifts. This basically allows players to send requests to other friends for help, items, etc. and also allows you to gift these things to other players. This should go a long way toward making games more interactive and engaging, and is undoubtedly a welcome addition to the multiplayer functionality that already exists in the Games API.

Google Drive

The Drive API was added to Play Services a few releases back and this update provides some additional functionality such as pinning files for offline use, creating folders, and getting change notifications so that apps can be notified when a file or folder is modified.

New APIs

In addition to all these updates, some new APIs have been brought into Google Play Services and should make developers' lives easier. These include:

  • Google Analytics, which allows the tracking of an enormous amount of metrics regarding app usage.
  • Google Tag Manager, which lets developers change some aspects of their app on the fly without having to release a full update to the Play Store.
  • Address API, which provides the ability for apps to access addresses you've already stored in your location settings, like home and work. These addresses could be used in a variety of ways, such as automatically populating a form.

Since the initial introduction of Play Services, Google has proven that they're serious about bringing access to all of their services under one central umbrella and this update just continues that trend. With the exception of the game gifting functionality, there probably isn't much here that users will see direct benefit from, at least not right away. Over time, though, developers will no-doubt use these APIs to provide a better user experience, and that's always a good thing.

Source: Android Developers Blog

Shawn De Cesari
Shawn is a web developer by day and XDA's resident archivist for Nexus and Google Play Edition device OTA updates by night. When not immersing himself in code or Android, he can be found hunting down antique signs, taking road trips, listening to music, or playing video games. His daily drivers are a Nexus 6 and an iPhone 6 Plus.
  • AbbyZFresh

    That was quick from what was announced earlier. At least Google doesn't waste time when things are ready. On iOS we would have to wait til iOS version xxx.1 in a couple months to a year to get things done.

    Now let's see if developers can be just as quick to implement the APIs into their apps.

  • Daniel Traynor


    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Shawn De Cesari

      Not yet, unfortunately. Once we get it, we'll be sure to pass it along.

      • Jack

        Doesn't the APK vary slightly among devices now?

        • Alexander Terry

          i don't think so, it might be different from gingerbread to ics to jellybean to kitkat.

          • Spasillium

            I think he means the last 3 numbers of the releases, which are based on what PPI your device is. For example:

            30 for devices of all PPIs
            32 for 160 PPI
            34 for 240 PPI
            36 for 320 PPI
            38 for 480 PPI
            70 for x86 devices

          • squiddy20

            Which to me doesn't make sense because (as I understand it) the image resources for all of those resolutions (except maybe the x86 devices) should be in 1 apk. I mean, that's why there's the MDPI, XHDPI, XXHDPI, etc. Right?

          • Ribs

            squiddy20: indeed... but I'd imagine they are trying to keep the apk size down... The majority of reviews on the play store for play services were complaining about the size it took up on the phone last time I looked (which was about a month ago).

          • Benjamin S.
        • Simon Belmont

          Yes. It does.

          It varies by the screen resolution. The different versions of the APK offer higher resolution resources for higher resolution screens.

        • Brendan

          Not really. Or at least not enough to make a difference for most devices.

      • http://www.yethz.com/ yethz

        Is this the update being talking about? (Attached screenshot from my Nexus 4)

        • http://www.LOVEanon.org/ Michael Oghia (Ogie)

          1. No.

          2. Why do you have a Windows key on your Nexus 4??

          • http://www.yethz.com/ yethz

            Just for a change ;)
            Got bored with the stock one...

          • http://www.LOVEanon.org/ Michael Oghia (Ogie)

            Fair enough :)

  • Steve Secor

    Thanks for breaking it down Shawn.

  • http://www.twitter.com/italofigueired Italo Figueiredo

    "Google Tag Manager"... It's not dangerous? Bad developers can do changes on the apps that affect negatively the users, or not?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Shawn De Cesari

      Tag manager is more for doing visual changes, I believe. Things like changing colors or text, that kind of thing. I don't think you can use it to do anything substantial on the back end of your app, and certainly not anything that would require additional app permissions.

      • http://www.twitter.com/italofigueired Italo Figueiredo


  • xHabeasCorpusx

    Oh god game gifts. The number 1 thing you hate about Facebook is now coming to your phone.

    • My name is….

      I couldnt agree more.
      At least on Facebook, you get to block invitations per game, so after a while noone is really bothering you.
      Lets hope here we will see somthing similar.

    • Guest

      Huh? Did I miss something? Where does it say "request gifts" or "invite friends"?

      • Martheen Cahya Paulo

        "basically allows players to send requests to other friends for help, items, etc"

    • Fabian Pineda

      But shouldn't the Play Games framework allow you to request only to players who actually play the game rather than randomly to anyone?

  • Druzeljubljiv lik

    I hope for better battery life in every new update for Google Play Services...

    • primalxconvoy

      I just disabled it and haven't looked back since. Battery is so much better!

      • http://twitter.com/anishbhalerao Anish Bhalerao

        You know what? Just put the damn thing into Airplane mode. Battery will work 7-8 days! Or just switch it off! Battery will work 200 days!
        What's the point of disabling everything that "makes" the smartphone?

        I cannot follow why people just disable core services of an OS, and then rejoice about battery!

        • WORPspeed

          Tell em to get a feature phone instead, I heard those 1990 Nokia's are still in indestructible condition

        • deano

          haha spot on

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Shawn De Cesari

          You, sir, win the Internets for the day.

        • Cheeseball

          When the "core services" of a smartphone OS drain more battery than it should, then that means it needs to be optimized.

          It shouldn't be on all the time, only when another app calls it or if other background services depend on it (e.g. uploading through Google Drive).

      • smithy

        of course your battery's better....your phones not doing anything

  • CrazyPaladin

    Game gifts...For a moment I thought you can buy a game as gift and send to your friend, just like steam

    • Sruly J

      That would be great. I'd finally have a use for money earned from doing the surveys for Google. Until now I've only been able to transfer funds through customer support

    • Ixil

      Exactly what I thought

  • http://www.emuparadise.me/roms-isos-games.php Apple is a patent troll

    But no improvement to the battery drain?

    • Defenestratus

      Since updating to kitkat on my note3, I haven't had the random Play Services battery drain.

      YMMV ofc.

  • Outrager

    I wonder if this fixes the Location Settings bug on the Nexus 4.
    If I turn it off then on again I can't get any location data at all until I reboot.

  • Stanley Chan

    Link for the apk?

  • primalxconvoy

    Isn't this dependent on that silly little Google Minus thing? If so then I'm not interested.

  • http://scribblepeople.net Mike

    gifts is an UNwelcome addition to Google+, it will be nice if the prizes and gifts are worth it

  • bambou51

    It will also fix crash/ANR issues related to Google Admob... finally !

  • Rovex

    Great.. Finally got my phone in a state where it was recognised by the web play store, the Android device manger AND wasnt suffering extreme battey drain, and now they update Play services which will (as usual) break all 3.

  • http://fotofaktory.pl/fotografia-slubna fotofaktorx

    Nice update

  • Kostas

    "Google has brought Analytics, Tag Manger, and a new Address API into the fold as well."

    You mean Tag Manager :)

  • RockAndRock

    Yeah ! Cool ! :)

  • t.virus

    how come mine says 4.5.10? but this is 4.3 so I'm downgrading lol?

    • Mo

      That is Play Store not Play Service

  • Benjamin S.
  • Leif Millar

    Will this new version not kill my S4 battery and make it uncomfortably hot? I shouldn't have to disable major elements of an operating system to have decent battery life. As a programmer, I don't understand how in the HELL Google would release such a flawed sofware package to its massive customer base world-wide. I should be able to leave my calendar open, while allowing auto-updates to said calendar, without my battery dropping 15%/hour. I know I'm not the only person with this problem.

  • Sorin-Mihai Oprea
  • pstreck1

    Kills s4 battery in 8 hours doing nothing else. Great job Google. When was the last time you actually tested something before you released it let alone improved something based on how real customers use their stuff?

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