Google has launched a new Google Play services platform that is designed to help developers integrate other Google services like Google+ into their apps. The services platform is a combination of a client that developers include in their app and a services component that runs on Android devices.
The services portion is delivered through the Google Play store, so developers don’t have to wait for carriers to get around to updating their Android versions in order to take advantage of updates to the platform. As new devices are introduced, they’ll have the platform as a part of their stock Android version, but they will still get updates via Google itself.
Updating the platform via Google Play, rather than packaging it with system images, gives Google the ability to iterate the platform more quickly, without having to wait for OEMs to get around to supporting the latest version of Android.
In short, this lets Google push updates to its products’ Android APIs on the fly, keeping them up to date. This update only supports Android 2.2 and up, but that’s the majority of devices anyway.
This should help developers to give their apps access to Google’s ecosystem on a separate, faster track than the main system updates. Initially, the services platform includes oAuth 2.0, Google+’s sign-in and +1 button, but will doubtless be expanded in the future.
Google’s Tim Bray calls this a ‘first step’ and there’s definitely a lot more to be done to allow developers more freedom to support Google integration without being beholden to the slow and archaic OEM approval process. But this should help in some basic ways.
Services is rolling out and should arrive on all Android 2.2 and up devices soon. For more information on integration and how OAuth is being handled, check out this developer post.
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