Game developers integrating with Google Play Games have seen a lot of improvements since the service was launched a year and a half ago at Google I/O 2013. There have been a lot of refinements to the experience for both players and developers, and new tools have made many of the tedious and time consuming chores much easier. Google has just launched a new Play Games Publishing API inspired by a similar interface that was added to the Play Store earlier this year.
The foldable cardboard VR kits Google gave away at I/O 2014 weren't just a one-off stunt. Today, in its developers blog, Google had some big announcements for the home-brewed virtual reality viewer.
First up, Google has grouped a handful of Cardboard-compatible apps into their own collection on the Play Store. The Cardboard app itself has also received an update, with the ability to discover cardboard apps on the Play Store, and launch them directly from the viewer.
Most of us don't want to think of Android without Google Play services. There's a good reason for that, without all of the tools Google offers, we would miss out on features like push notifications, integrated maps, and even newer things like Google Fit. Developers keep asking for more and Google is answering that call. With the latest release of Google Play services, new features are coming to Fit, Maps, Drive, And Wallet.
Developers have a lot to look forward to with the latest release of Android, but not everything requires Lollipop to run. With the official release of the SDK for API Level 21, Google also included an updated version of the AppCompat Support Library, which contains back-ported versions of UI controls and other features for use on older versions of the OS. Some of the new libraries were first available with the L Preview SDK, but just about everything has received an update, and there are some additions for the official release.
On Wednesday, Google teased developers and enthusiasts by officially announcing Lollipop, but chose to delay the release of anything substantial for another two days. Well, we've waited for the obligatory 48 hours, and the SDK is finally available, just in time for the weekend. (Yay?) Developers can finally abandon the interim SDK and move on to the real thing. There's no more pretending 'L' counts as an API Level, Android 5.0 is officially numbered 21.
Developers won't have to put up with that junky "preview" SDK much longer. In just two days (October 17th) the final Android 5.0 SDK will be available for download in the SDK manager.
Excitement over products like the Ouya, nVidia's Shield line, and even numerous gamepads proves that gaming on Android has entered the mainstream. Developers have been jumping at the opportunity to build games that work across many of the different operating systems; and thanks to the Cross-Platform SDK, they're able to integrate most of the Play Games services into their products on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Until now, this SDK has lagged behind the SDKs for Android and iOS on one specific feature: real-time multiplayer support.
At Google I/O, we heard a little bit about Google Fit - Google's renewed effort at quantified, managed health data. We heard that multiple partners had signed on and got a taste of what Google Fit would be able to accomplish, but beyond that details were a little hazy.
We were however told a preview SDK would be made available in "coming weeks," (a dreaded phrase to any Google user) and today that promise has been fulfilled.
Google I/O was pretty amazing this year, right? We got the deets on Material design, a preview version of Android L, the formal release of Android Wear, the first manifestations of Android TV and Android Auto, and plenty of other bits and pieces. However, all of that content and all of those developer sessions can take forever to absorb, and professional developers just don't have time for that. Now that all of the videos have been posted, I've combed through every last one to narrow the list down to just the sessions that absolutely can't be missed.