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. Google can't get OEMs to update Android versions, but there's no way to stop a Play Services update - they're silent and automatic. So, whenever technically possible, that's where Google will be sticking major new features from here on out.

Play Services is now a big deal. Got it? Good. Let's dive right in.

Play Games App Browser

<string name="games_pano_cluster_label_recent_games">Recent games</string>
<string name="games_pano_cluster_label_recent_players">Players</string>
<string name="games_pano_cluster_label_sign_in_required">Sign-in required</string>
<string name="games_pano_sign_in_successful">Sign-in successful.</string>
<string name="games_pano_browse_header_invitations">Invitations</string>
<string name="games_pano_browse_header_recent_games">Recent games</string>
<string name="games_pano_browse_header_all_games">All games</string>
<string name="games_pano_browse_header_multiplayer_games">Popular Multiplayer</string>
<string name="games_pano_browse_header_featured_games">Featured games</string>
<string name="games_pano_browse_header_recent_players">Recent players</string>
<string name="games_pano_browse_header_all_players">All players</string>
<string name="games_pano_browse_header_settings">Settings</string>
<string name="games_pano_player_detail_about">About</string>
<string name="games_pano_player_detail_games">Games</string>
<string name="games_pano_settings_choose_account">Choose account</string>

Ok, so, there is this crazy new thing called "Games_pano" which will show your invitations, recent games, and have game discoverability lists like "popular multiplayer" and "featured games." Most of these are labeled with "games_pano_browse," which sounds a lot like a standalone Play Games discoverability app. I would imagine it would function similarly to Nvidia's TegraZone - half games store; half platform advertisement.

I suppose this could be something that is grafted onto an existing window, but right now, there are no layout files that use these strings. I'm really not sure if this is a standalone app or not. This one is a work in progress.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<launcher version="1">

This is the complete text of "res/xml/launcher_info.xml" - a file which is completely new to the entire internet. I'm sure Google has since picked up on this article, but at the time of writing, a search for what this type of file is for produced exactly 0 hits. So, naturally, I have no idea what this is. It mentions "launcher," but this is definitely not the normal way to make a launcher icon. I also have no idea what is up with the "content://" line. Any ideas?

Play Games Waiting Room

    <string name="games_select_players_title">Multiplayer match</string>
    <string name="games_select_players_empty">No players found.</string>
    <string name="games_select_players_cancel">CANCEL</string>
    <string name="games_select_players_auto_pick_item_label">Auto-pick player</string>
    <string name="games_select_players_auto_pick_chip_name">Auto-pick</string>
    <string name="games_select_players_no_slots_remaining">No more slots</string>
    <string name="games_select_players_no_invitable_players">"No players found. To see people here, add them to your Google+ circles."</string>
    <string name="games_waiting_room_room_status_inviting">Waiting for players</string>
    <string name="games_waiting_room_room_status_auto_matching">Waiting for auto-match</string>
    <string name="games_waiting_room_room_status_connecting">Connecting</string>
    <string name="games_waiting_room_room_status_active">Connected</string>
    <string name="games_waiting_room_menu_start_playing">Start playing</string>
    <string name="games_waiting_room_menu_leave_room">Leave room</string>
    <string name="games_waiting_room_prepare_to_play">Prepare to play</string>
    <string name="games_waiting_room_participant_status_invited">Invited</string>
    <string name="games_waiting_room_participant_status_player_joined">Invitation accepted</string>
    <string name="games_waiting_room_participant_status_automatch_joined">Joined</string>
    <string name="games_waiting_room_participant_status_declined">Invitation declined</string>
    <string name="games_waiting_room_participant_status_left">Left the room</string>

There are strings for a "Games waiting room," which presumably is an extension of the lobby stuff I found in my original Play Games discovery. This looks just like a matchmaking lobby, you wait around for people to join, there are slots for players, invite buttons, a "ready" button, and auto-matching functionality. There's now a layout file for this, so this is much further along than the Play Games browser.

Wild Speculation Bonus Round

  <string name="auth_sign_in_agreement_multi_user">By signing in, you are agreeing to the Google  [blah blah blah]</string>
    <string name="auth_sign_in_agreement_with_chrome">By signing in, you are agreeing to the Google [blah blah blah]</string>
    <string name="auth_sign_in_agreement_with_chrome_multi_user">By signing in, you are agreeing to the Google [blah blah blah]. Remember: Any other user can accept updated app permissions on your behalf. As with any computer, you should only share this tablet with people you trust. "</string>

<string name="auth_chrome_tos_title">Chrome Terms of Service</string>
<string name="auth_chrome_privacy_title">Chrome Privacy Notice</string>


Why is there Chrome stuff in here? Play Games is getting Chrome support?! It makes perfect sense for Google to bring Play Games support to Chrome, but why is this in an Android APK? Can you really "Sign in with Chrome" and use an Android app? There's no way. This has to be a mistake, or a common set of strings between the Android and an upcoming Chrome version of Play Services. Chrome can't run Android apps...

Well, this should provide plenty of fodder for discussions in the comments - have at it.