Google I/O: Google Set To Build Social Features Into Games

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At its I/O developer conference Google is set to introduce social gaming features including multiplayer social gaming

Google is tying its Google+ social media services and more into its games using Google Play under wide-ranging gaming improvements and innovations that will be unveiled later this week at the annual Google I/O 2013 Developers Conference.

The news comes from a report by AndroidPolice, which claims that it obtained a copy of the latest APK, or Android application package file, used to update the Google Play app, according to the story.

Multiplayer functionality

The new APK v3.1.36 for Google Play services will bring multiplayer functionality, leaderboards, player achievements lists and more, including the ability to save games to the cloud, said the report.

“3.1 is a massive update – the strings file, for instance, has more than doubled from 300 to 700 entries,” reported AndroidPolice. “This is how Google is pushing out all the shared files for Google Play Games.”

The Google Play services app is used to update Google apps and apps from Google Play, according to Google. The new 3.1 version ties in closely with Google+, and “has tons of gaming-related activities that you can bring up”, according to the report.

“The big thing everyone asked for after our initial discovery of Play Games was a save syncing feature, and we’re happy to announce that there’s some of evidence of that in the new Play Services app,” the report said.

Android game lovers will only have a few more days before they get all the details of the Google Play app upgrades that are rumoured, because the Google I/O 2013 conference opens on 15 May and runs through 17 May in San Francisco.

Android games

Android games and everything else Android will get a lot of attention at the conference with a full range of sessions that the company hopes will continue to advance development of cool and useful new apps for the global market-leading mobile operating system.

Google, Android © Lyao Shutterstock 2012Scheduled are 34 Android sessions and three code labs, covering design, development and distribution.

Android session topics include “What’s New in Android Developer Tools”, “Practical Android Games Development”, “In-App Billing Version 3”, “Enabling Blind and Low-Vision Accessibility on Android”, “What’s New in Google Play Services”, “Android Graphics Performance”, “Taking Advantage of Android Platform Features” and “The New Android SDK Build System”.

Google has released an official Google I/O 2013 conference companion app that can be used at the conference or by online viewers to follow the goings-on. The free new app supports devices running Android 2.3+, and is optimised for phones and tablets.

Online visitors will be able to watch what’s happening at the conference through several means, according to Google. Live streaming will run on and official conference announcements will be posted live through the Google I/O home page and on the +Google Developers page.

Google Maps

Previously announced for Google I/O 2013 are a wide range of Google Maps sessions, including a special session on “Google Maps: Into the Future”, as well as a special Google Maps demo from inside a 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 sports car.

Other Maps-related sessions include “Design Principles for Maps”, “Making Location Meaningful With Google Maps APIs”, “Dive Into Underwater Street View” and a “Fireside Chat With the Google Maps Team”. All the sessions will be available on YouTube after Google I/O.

The conference will include a wide range of training sessions and code sessions each day where developers can get help with their projects, answers for code questions, and input and additional eyes on the work they are doing using Google code.

More than 120 talks, ranging from introductory topics to advanced subjects about Google Maps, Android, Google Chrome, Google+, App Engine, Google Glass and more, will be featured in the technical sessions, according to Google.

At the 2012 I/O Conference last June, Google rolled out its Glass project, the latest Android Jelly Bean operating system, the Nexus 7 tablet and the Nexus Q Media Hub. The Nexus Q was a surprise announcement that introduced an entirely new small, bowling-ball-shaped media hub for the home controlled by an Android tablet or smartphone.

Jelly Bean enhancements

Enhancements to Jelly Bean included improved performance; added search capabilities; voice typing that could be done offline; and an improved notifications interface that lets users respond to calendar reminders, emails and texts without having to open each of those applications.

In April, the Google Play store added new capabilities to allow app developers to better showcase their new apps when consumers search for them using their mobile devices in the store.

App developers can now upload screen shots of their apps running on 7-inch and 10-inch tablets so consumers can see what those apps will look like on their similar devices, which Google and the developers hope will continue to spur even more sales of innovative and useful apps in the store.

Google Play, which was created in March 2012 to combine what until then were separate sites where Android lovers could buy their favourite apps, music and ebooks, has been a huge hit. Before Google Play, users had to shop through the individual Android Market, Google Music and Google e-Bookstore sites.

By September 2012, Google Play had served up more than 25 billion downloads to app- and game-hungry Android users, reaching a significant milestone in only six months.

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Originally published on eWeek.

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