Most of us don't want to think of Android without Google Play services. There's a good reason for that, without all of the tools Google offers, we would miss out on features like push notifications, integrated maps, and even newer things like Google Fit. Developers keep asking for more and Google is answering that call. With the latest release of Google Play services, new features are coming to Fit, Maps, Drive, And Wallet. Also, when the SDK lands, it will finally answer the single most common complaint from developers: that the GMS library is just too damn big.

GMS - Release Blog Nacho - Map Toolbar

Maps will receive the lion's share of new features with Play services v6.5. To begin with, applications making use of maps will now include two convenient buttons in the lower-right corner that will instantly take the user to the Google Maps app for directions and turn-by-turn navigation to the currently selected address. Developers are free to disable these buttons if they prefer to offer a more customized interface. Another handy addition will come in the form of a new "lite mode" map which is designed to be smaller and less interactive. These simplified maps are intended to be used more like thumbnails, allowing several to comfortably fit on a screen at once. To round things off, developers are finally gaining the ability to send users directly into the Google Maps application and immediately initiate a search, turn by turn navigation, or Street View.

The additions to most of the other individual properties aren't particularly flashy with this release. The Google Fit API is getting improved support for predefined activities, Google Wallet will receive a brand new 'Donate with Google' button for making quick donations, and Drive is gaining better control over file syncing and setting custom properties. While these changes are going to make things easier on developers, most of them aren't going to be very visible to end users.

Google's final announcement may actually have the greatest impact of all. With the latest release, the GMS library will be broken up into individual parts for each major set of APIs. This will finally alleviate the stress of including the full library, which weighs in at almost exactly 1 MB after it's compiled into an app. For example, an app that only requires push messaging will be able to do so while only increasing its footprint by about 75KB. While most users with current, high-end devices probably don't notice the burden, this is great for older and budget-oriented hardware. This change will also go a long way towards reducing memory usage and download size. Oh yeah, and this should cut a minute or two off of compile times. Hallelujah!

The new version of Google Play services has already started rolling out to devices, but these features aren't going to be available to developers until the SDK is released in about a week. There are some other treats in this version for users, but we'll talk about that in another post. Hit the link below if you'd like to pick up the apk before it rolls out to your device automatically. Don't forget to pick up the correct version for your device.

Download

The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.

Version: 6.5.85 (1589008)

  • APK Mirror (Be sure the 3-digit number at the end matches the version on your device. If you're running lollipop, pick a -7XX version.)

Source: Android Developers (Blog, Google+)