Android malware isn't as big of a concern as some mainstream media reports would have you believe, but it is enough of an issue that Google started beefing up its security a few years ago. There's the "Bouncer" server-side scanning that checks apps before they go live, and your device runs app verification as new packages are installed. Now Google is about to patch a hole in the local app scanning by making it run continuously.
The recent release of Google Play Services 4.2 brought with it some exciting additions like the official Cast API and significantly improved support for Google Drive. One of the lesser publicized additions is the official launch of GoogleApiClient, a new component intended to simplify setting up and managing connections to Google's assorted API endpoints. Additionally, there is now support for queuing up read-only queries and a choice of executing calls synchronously or asynchronously.
The Google Cast SDK is only just escaping its confines as a developer preview, so it’s not surprising to see a few bugs turning up in some odd places. A couple of simple, but potentially telling glitches started appearing after Google Play Services 4.2 began rolling out a few days ago. This latest update is causing the list of Cast targets to fill with incompatible DLNA-enabled devices and duplicate Chromecasts.
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.