Play Games' turn-based multiplayer capabilities were only shut down a few days ago, but Google is adding a set of new social features to the app instead. As we already suspected due to some strings found in Play Games' source code, a server-side update has brought a new social section with a friends list to the app, making it easier to compare your achievements and which games you play.
Left: Old Profile tab. Middle: New Social section with friends list. Right: Friend profile.
When you first open the app after you've got the update, you'll see the Profile tab has been replaced with Social. When you tap it, you'll be taken to an onboarding experience that asks you for your preferred privacy settings. You can choose from three options to define who can see your game activity on your profile: Only you, friends, or everyone. In the next step, it's possible to give games access to your friend list so you can easily play them with your peers.
The onboarding process when you first open the Social tab.
Once everything's set up, you can invite friends via a link or select one of the suggestions shown inside the Friends tab. When you tap one of your contacts in the list, you'll see a comparison between your levels and which games they've played last. Games you both have are shown in an extra section. All entries come with download or play links, depending on whether or not you've got them on your phone.
The new social features have already rolled out widely as a server-side update. If you haven't received them yet, you'll have to wait for a bit, or you might need a newer release of the app, which you can get on the Play Store or over at APK Mirror.