Google updates Play services with Mobile Ads, geofencing, Google+, and API improvements, but drops Froyo support

Google updates Play services with Mobile Ads, geofencing, Google+, and API improvements, but drops Froyo ...

In addition to the Nexus 5 and Android 4.4 KitKat, Google today also updated Google Play Services to version 4.0. The new release includes the Google Mobile Ads SDK, and also makes improvements to geofencing, Google+, and Google Wallet Instant Buy APIs.

More importantly, Google Play Services 4.0 drops support for Android 2.2 (Froyo). Google notes that over 97 percent of devices that use Google Play are now running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) or higher, so killing off Froyo makes sense.

Google says the move allows it to offer Android developers more powerful APIs “in the future.” At the same time, these new APIs will not be available on devices running Android 2.2.

While Google Play services 4.0 is slowly rolling out to Android devices around the world, developers can download the latest Google Play services SDK right now. Google is hoping to give them a head start in developing with the new APIs using the new Android 4.4 (KitKat) emulator.

The new Google Mobile Ads SDK in Google Play services helps provide “seamless improvements” to end users. That means bug fixes are pushed automatically to users without developers having to do anything.

Google says the Maps and Geofencing APIs that launched in Google Play services 3.1 have been updated to improve overall battery efficiency and responsiveness. The Maps API further enhances map customization features, letting developers specify marker opacity, fade-in effects, visibility of 3D buildings, and change ground overlay images.

Apps that use Google+ Sign-In will be updated with a simplified sign-in consent dialog. Google Wallet Instant Buy APIs are now available to everyone (within a sandbox) with a simplified API that streamlines the buy-flow and reduces integration time.

Last but not least, the update contains a new anonymous identifier for advertising purposes (to be used in place of Android ID). That’s for developers; users have gained new settings to reset this identifier or opt out of interest-based ads for Google Play apps.

Top Image Credit: Kimihiro Hoshino/Getty Images

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