Google Updates Play Services With Improved GPS, Google+ And Photo Sphere Integrations

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Google Play Services, the company’s client-side library for allowing Android developers to easily use Google-powered features like Maps and Google+ in their apps, got a major update today that includes a number of interesting new features. Many of these, Google notes, are meant to provide greater power savings, but the company says it has also made a number of performance improvements.

With this update, for example, developers can now use hardware-based GPS geofencing on devices that support it (including, for example, the Nexus 4). Battery consumption is one of the banes of location-based services, but Google says this technique can result in significantly lower battery usage.

gpsTo save even more battery, Google Play Services 3.2 now also allows the selection of a low-power mode for the Fused Location Provider, which manages Play Services’ location technology in the background. And a new Snapshot feature now allows developers to just display a bitmap image of the current map instead of an interactive map to improve performance and battery life.

Besides these location features, this update also brings a new and easily integrated, simplified sharing control to Play Services for developers who use Google+ sign-ins. In addition, Google says, it has “taken the opportunity to add some butter to the Google+ sign-in animation” (a reference to Project Butter – Google’s initiative to make Android’s animations a bit more fluid).

For developers who want to integrate Photo Sphere, Google has added a compass mode, so users can now view them by simply moving their phones.