Sometimes relatively insignificant software bugs come together in what can only be described as a perfect storm, wreaking havoc and leaving the victims without recourse. Only a few days after the KitKat announcement, complaints of some rather odd behavior on Nexus devices (mostly Nexus 4s) running Android 4.3 started popping up around XDA, the Google Product Forum, and the AOSP Issue Tracker. People were waking up to find alarms failing to go off and most of their apps crashing instantly.
If you're noticing some fishy battery behavior today, and it looks like Google Play Services is the culprit, you aren't alone. Throughout the day, users have been reporting extraordinary battery use by the usually innocuous services app, accounting for up to 50% of battery usage. It would seem that, for reasons unknown, Play Services is keeping users' devices awake for incredible lengths of time. Some users report that location is disabled on their devices, ruling that out as a suspect for the increased battery drain.
There's a new Google Play Services app in town, and it includes all kinds of goodies for developers. But there's a nasty surprise waiting inside Google Play Services 4.0, at least for users on some devices: it may have disabled the Android Device Manager's permission to act as a Device Administrator. This is what allows users to access the new remote lock and device wipe features from the web... which some of them might not realize they can no longer do.
In our recent APK/website teardown, we unearthed Android's upcoming remote device lock functionality through Google Play Services, and now it has quietly gone live in the Android Device Manager. Just head to the management interface and you'll have a new Lock button. Click it, and your lost device can be secured instantly.
The functionality is incredibly robust. Even if you have your device locked with a pattern, PIN, or other method, the Device Manger will instantly override it.
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.
Sometimes, updates break things. That seems to be the case for some HTC owners who, upon receiving a silent update to the newest version of Google Play Services, are having trouble using apps that rely on location data. According to HTC phone users in this support thread, Google Now continually asks to turn Location Services on, location-dependent applications like Foursquare and WeatherBug don't function properly, and Maps is unable to lock onto a location.
The new activity recognition features introduced in the latest Google Play services update are just two days old, but SmarterApps has already released an AutomateIt update in the Play Store that takes advantage of the new functionality. The latest version touts the ability to make your phone smart enough to automate different tasks depending on if you're walking, running, biking, or driving.
The new sync adapter brought in via Wednesday's Google Play services update introduces a location reporting API, a task that previously was performed within apps themselves locally.
Remember how we told you Google Games was coming, and how it's going to pack multiplayer functionality, leaderboards, achievements, and stuff like that? That's happening. There are going to be cloud game saves too.
Fresh out of Google HQ, we've managed to score a copy of the new Google Play Services v3.1.36, which is very slowly rolling out to devices right now. For comparison, the current Play Services that most people have is v3.0.27.