Now that Google is through with its biggest developer conference of the year, it's time to deliver a few updates and fulfill some of the promises made during the event. Some of that is happening through an update to Play services. Google posted the release notes for the update and it includes a lot of additions, both big and small, and a few deprecations.

For the non-developers in the crowd, most of this stuff isn't going to matter all that much, but there is one new feature that might catch their interest. A new API will allow apps to perform SMS verifications without accessing the SMS history. It's probably not a big change for users, and developers will still have to implement some changes to their app and server code before it can be used, but it means there will be fewer apps with an excuse to poke around in your SMS messages.

There are quite a few changes to the different APIs provided by Play services, and developers should definitely check out the full list here. Here are a few particularly interesting things worth highlighting:

  • SmsRetriever API is the SMS verification API mentioned above. It allows apps to listen for incoming SMS messages intended for them without asking users for permission to read all of their messages. This means phone number verifications can be entirely seamless with no authorization dialogs or manual steps to copy a code from a text message. It works by giving a unique hash to apps so they can pass it back to the developer's server. That hash should then be sent via SMS to the user's phone and parsed by Play services. Once a message with the hash is identified, it will be passed directly to the primary app.
  • The RemoteMediaPlayer class has been deprecated from the Cast API. If you're using the Cast SDK v2, there is a guide available for migrating to Cast SDK v3.
  • As we were told during I/O, all developers are now free to build Instant Apps. Details can be found here.
  • Significant additions to Nearby and SafetyNet APIs, including reCAPTCHA, and some handy new classes for working with the Fused Location Provider and Awareness capabilities.

If you haven't already done it, go to the SDK Manager in Android Studio or the one included with the Android SDK and update the Google repository to get started with the latest APIs.