Google has begun pushing out Google Play Services 4.4 and along with it a host of new APIs for developers to use in creating applications for Android devices. This new version of Play Services stuffs in improvements to maps, location services, game services, mobile advertisements and Google Wallet.
The Google Maps API gains a great new tool with the addition of Street View. Developers can now take imagery generated by Google Street View and add it to their own applications. Google said this even includes 360-degree panning, zooming and tilting the viewing angle. Google added more features to the Indoor Maps part of the API as well. According to Google, developers can now turn the default floor picker off, as well as detect new buildings and more easily find the active building. This will go a long way to improving apps that include the layouts of large indoor spaces such as malls or shopping centers.
Google took steps to improve how developers can take advantage of motion sensors, too. The new Location API can already detect a number of statuses, such as determining whether or not the device is in a vehicle or sitting at rest. Now the Location API can tell when a device is at running or walking speeds. Google believes this can really help with apps that make use of location and state, such as fitness apps, maps and games.
Speaking of games, Google enhanced the Games Services API to include a new user interface for sending gift requests. The Game Gifts UI now lets people request and send multiple gifts, which Google believes will help improve engagement between players.
Play Services 4.4 also adds new APIs for publishers. Specifically, the Mobile Ads API includes the ability to display an in-app promo, which Google says can be used to power instant purchases through the ad itself.
Last, Google updated the Instant Buy and WalletFragment APIs. Developers can now more easily add the Google Wallet Instant Buy button to their apps. This could spur in-app purchases as long as the user has an associated Google Wallet account.
Google Play Services represents the core of how applications interact with Android. Play Services can be used to target all Android devices running Android 2.3 Gingerbread and up. Play Services 4.4 are being rolled out to end users globally over the next few weeks. Developers can snag the new API tools directly from Google.