Google Play Services Gets Improved Mobile Ads And Multiplayer Support, Google+ Sharing And Preview Of Drive API

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Google today started rolling out the latest version of its Google Play services for Android. Just like earlier updates, version 4.1 brings a number of incremental changes to the company’s service for integrating Google services into mobile apps. The rollout is currently in process and should land on all Android devices worldwide within the next few days.

Today’s update brings support for turn-based multiplayer games to Play services, for example. With this, developers can easily build asynchronous games with up to eight participants. Every time a player takes a turn, the data is uploaded to Google’s servers and shared with the other players. Google has integrated this service with its tools for matching players with others, too.

Also new in this update is improved support for Google+ sharing. This, the company says, will make it “even easier for users to share with the right people from your app.” As part of this update, users will be able to get auto-complete support and suggested recipients for all Gmail contacts, device contacts and people on Google+.

Developers can now also use Play services to access Google Drive through a new API that’s now in preview. With this, they can read and write files in Drive. Users will be able to work on these files offline, and changes will be synced automatically.

For developers who use Google’s ad products, this new version introduces full support for DoubleClick for Publishers, DoubleClick Ad Exchange and Search Ads for Mobile Apps. What’s most interesting for advertisers, though, is that publishers can now also use a new location API to give Google access to a user’s location when requesting ads. Location-based ads are likely to perform better than generic ads, after all, though users have generally been a bit nervous about sharing this data with advertisers given the potential privacy ramifications.

One other feature most users will likely appreciate is improved battery life. While Google isn’t sharing any details about this, the company said that anybody who has Google Location Reporting turned on should see longer battery life after this update, though whether that means less than 1 percent more (likely) or 10 percent more (very unlikely) remains to be seen.