Google's Play services platform is responsible for many of the more magical features we've come to expect on our various types of devices. The latest changelog highlights some of the latest additions and improvements. Most of these are immediately relevant to developers that have to work with these APIs. There are also a few things users will want to know about and maybe even ask their favorite developers to implement.

Before getting into the additions, there is a note that Nearby Notifications have been temporarily disabled due to a bug that could cause them to remain visible long after a proximity beacon was well out of range. The base system of Nearby is still fully functional, so detection and operation with beacons still works, and the Physical Web notifications can still show up. Google says the notifications will return in a subsequent update, but there's no ETA yet.

Highlights from the Google Play services 9.6 release.

  • Ads
    • Added the collection of Active View traffic measurement data for DoubleClick Campaign Manager advertisers whose ads render in apps that use the Google Mobile Ads SDK.
  • CastCast API v3.2 provides improved functionality to app developers in the following areas:
    • When playing ads, the appearance of the seek bar has been improved, and the background poster image is blurred.
    • Added the ability to customize the style of mini controllers.
    • Added the ImageHints class, which provides hints to the ImagePicker object about the type and size of image to select for display in the UI.
    • To learn more about this version, see Cast SDK v3.3.
  • Fit
    • Fit now includes a Goals API that allows your app to read fitness goals created by users of the Google Fit Android app.
  • Google Sign-in
    • Added the ability for users to fill in phone numbers associated with their account with a single tap in apps that use the Credentials API.
  • Nearby
  • Firebase

As far as improvements to the Play services SDK, one of the more interesting additions is the new Goals API for Google Fit, allowing developers to access user-defined goals. At this time, this is a read-only API, so it's likely to see use by motivational and data tracking apps. Back in June, the Google Fit v1.57 update enabled a much wider range of goals and support for multiple simultaneous goals.

The Credentials API, part of Google Sign-in, also has a new trick up its sleeve. Users will now be able to make a single tap to auto-fill phone numbers in apps that request account access. This can save time with sign-up steps, verification procedures, and just about anything else that requires a phone number. Again, apps must make a request to get the phone number, so it's not given automatically.

App developers can check out the individual release notes for each of the APIs linked above.