Google finally let the curtain fall on the long-anticipated Nearby API that enables detection and easy connection with other devices in close proximity. The new API was announced with Play services v7.8, but the SDK won't be released until that version has gone into wide release, which will happen in about two weeks. This gives Google a chance to identify some of the bugs that may have slipped through during development, and collect feedback from a larger set of devices in the real world. Of course, we've also got links to download the apk if you don't feel like waiting.
Like most updates to Play services, there's not all that much to see on the user-facing side. However, the Google Settings app received a few changes worth noting. To begin with, there is a new group of account management categories including: Sign-in & security, Personal info & privacy, and Account preferences. With the sole exception of Activity Controls under Personal info & privacy, every single option in each category is just a link to a web page on Google. These don't provide anything we couldn't already get to with a web browser, but they offer a faster and more convenient way to make changes right from a phone. Even though they may be useful, it feels awkward to switch from the native app to Chrome.
The other addition to Google Settings is a grayed-out placeholder for Nearby. It's a bit unfair to call it a placeholder because it will become active when Google flips a switch in a couple of weeks. Nevertheless, it's going to lead to the configuration screen for all of your Nearby needs. As for what that screen will contain... Well, there will be an APK Teardown shortly (probably tomorrow morning) with more details on this and plenty of other things. In the meantime, there's a download link below if you'd like to jump the line and install the latest Play services apk before Google rolls it out to your hardware.
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.
To figure out the right version of Google Play services for your Android device, go to Settings -> Apps -> Google Play services, and look at the last 3 numbers in the parentheses. You'll see something like -XYZ where:
* X defines Android version:
- 0 for Android <5.0
- 4 and 7 for Android >=5.0
- 8 for Android TV
* Y defines CPU architecture:
- 1 for armeabi
- 3 for armeabi-v7a
- 4 for arm64-v8a
- 7 for x86
* Z defines DPI:
- 0 for universal
- 2 for 160
- 4 for 240
- 6 for 320
- 8 for 480
- It seems that -7YZ builds became -4YZ with Google Play services 6.5. If you were on -7YZ before, you should now install -4YZ.
- Looks like -8YZ builds are for Android TV.
- -014 for Android <5.0 armeabi CPU 240 DPI device
- -438 for Android 5.0+ armeabi-v7a CPU 480 DPI device
- -876 for Android TV x86 CPU 320 DPI device