We don't hear too much about Play Games anymore, which may seem pretty obvious since the updates have been very slow lately and Google recently announced plans to shutter some of the features that weren't seeing much adoption. However, a new version began rolling out today, and it makes a surprisingly large jump straight from v3.9 to v5.2. Don't get too excited for big changes, though; this update appears to be focused on upkeep and incorporating some of the features added with Android Marshmallow and Nougat, not any major new additions.
Unofficial Changelog: (the stuff we found)
- Adaptive icons (Android O)
- Notification channels (Android O)
- Data backup (Android 6.0+)
- Smaller apk
- Minimum support level changed to
Both the adaptive icons and use of the Data Backup API are only really visible through the lens of a teardown, and frankly, there's not much to say about them. Simply put, Play Games is now caught up on both of those for the respective OS versions in which they were introduced.
The single most significant enhancement is the addition of a half dozen notification channels. For users on Android O, it's now possible to control the priority and options of notifications from Play Games, including: multiplayer notifications, invitations from unknown players, gifts and requests, quests, level-up notifications, and gameplay video recordings.
The app resources have also been cleaned up significantly, reducing the total size by about 15%. And finally, it might not come as much of a surprise after Gingerbread support was dropped from Google Play services earlier this year, but the new version of Play Games (based on the one variant we have so far) makes it look like the minimum API level may have been raised to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Seeing as Gingerbread accounts for less than 1% of the devices still in use, that's probably not going to impact very many people anymore. Besides, the old version should continue working for those that are using it.
The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.