For over a few hours on Monday, several Google services came crashing to a halt. Users all over the world were unable to send messages via Hangouts, engage in video chats, or check Google Voice. Some people trying to create spreadsheets with Sheets were met with 502 errors, and people taking advantage of the multi-player aspect of Google Play Games were also affected. All of this apparently resulted from an oops during a routine hardware maintenance event where the company miscalculated available capacity.
Astronomers can identify distant galaxies beyond the reach of our telescopes by the light they emit, focusing around other galaxies and stars closer to us. The developers of popular iOS game God of Light use some of the same (if somewhat exaggerated) gravitational properties of photons to craft an addictive and endearing puzzler. Observe:
In God of Light, you're a benevolent space being called Shiny, and the description is pretty apt.
There are definitely a few features lacking in the way paid content is handled in Google Play – gift codes and free-to-paid app transition, for starters. According Google's GDC announcement, the company isn't addressing those issues in particular, but some other features are coming to Google Play in the form of some new developer options and support for in-game gifts.
Today the Google Play Games app has made the big jump from version 1.1 to 1.5, and there are quite a few new features tucked away inside that may cause you to hit its icon in your app tray a little bit more often. Let's dive in.
The previous version allowed you to join multiplayer games from within the app, but the latest update introduces the ability to view invitations as well.
Were you excited to hear the Google Play is getting an expanded list of game categories? Well curb your enthusiasm - the switch to the expanded list was tentatively scheduled for "February," but as one reader noticed, the new categories haven't been implemented yet. The relevant Play Store support page has been modified, and now it says that the change will come sometime "around March."
Switching from the old list of just six categories to an expanded 17 (which contain the original six plus more specific sub-genres) would be a boon to both Android users and developers.
You don't have to spend much time on the Play Store to see that games are a big part of the service and the platform. Google has already done a lot to highlight gaming with Play Store categories and landing page promotions, but starting in February, developers and end users will have roughly three times as many categories to browse through. The new game categories are as follows:
- Role Playing
That's seventeen categories, up from the previous six (Arcade & Action, Brain & Puzzle, Cards & Casino, Casual, Racing, and Sports Games).
Gaming on Android right now is booming, but it's still less than ideal. It's an attractive proposition to play games to go using a device you're already going to have with you, but very few of us keep our phones for as long as we would hold on to a Nintendo 3DS or even an old Game Boy. Sooner than later, we'll be upgrading to a new phone, but before that even happens, many of us will also pick up a new tablet that, if you're reading this blog, will likely ship with Android.
In the realm of nerdy Easter Eggs, the Konami Code is a long-time favorite. It shows up in various games and websites, offering a bit of nostalgia each time. Leave it to Google to have a little fun with the Konami Code on Android. Just a few swipes, and you've unlocked a secret achievement in the new Google Play Games app.
In the Google Play Games app, simply swipe the following directions: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right.
Google Play Games has done wonders to tie game scores and achievements to our Google+ profiles and show us who's kicking the most butt in any particular title. Yet information has thus far been scattered across individual apps and Google+, limiting the value of the experience. Today Google is rolling out a standalone app consolidating all of this content in one place.
The new app can display achievements unlocked in individual games, those that a player has yet to unlock, and leaderboards for every different map within a specific game.
You might not have noticed, but a fresh version of Google Play Services started silently rolling out a few days ago. Google I/O came and went without an Android version bump because Google wanted to send a message: Google Play Services is the single most important APK on your device. It was recently used to roll out Google Play Games, cloud app data storage, and the fused location provider.