Google Play Services update adds location features, social media controls

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is rolling out version 3.2 of its Google Play Services development platform, highlighted by maps and location-based services enhancements as well as improved Google+ social media sharing controls.

Google Play Services offers Android developers automatic platform updates through the Play digital storefront, making it easier to integrate and distribute new features and improvements. With version 3.2, the Fused Location Provider now supports a low-power mode option when apps request location updates, as well as tools for injecting mock locations, letting developers more efficiently test apps across a range of simulated conditions.

Google Play Services 3.2 also updates Android's geofencing APIs to support hardware-based GPS geofencing on devices like the Nexus 4. "Hardware geofences consume significantly less battery, and best of all, your app will automatically take advantage of this feature on supported hardware without you having to make any changes," Google said. The update additionally touts a new Snapshot feature in the maps API letting apps capture a bitmap image of the current map in order to improve performance when an interactive map isn't necessary.

Developers using Google+ sign-in may now embed simplified sharing controls directly within their apps, simplifying the process of sharing content to the Google+ network. In addition, Google is extending the Photo Sphere viewer to add compass mode capabilities, also improving the Google Wallet Instant Buy API to boost efficiency via improved latency, a cleaner UI and improved support for loyalty and offers information.

Google Play app revenues surged 67 percent during the previous six months, far ahead of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store at 15 percent, analytics firm Distimo reported last week. "The Apple App Store was still the larger market compared to Google Play in July 2013 in terms of total revenue. However, Google Play's cut has increased significantly over the past few months," Distimo said. "While only 25 percent of the combined revenue came from Google Play in February 2013, this share went up by 8 percentage points to 33 percent in July 2013. In revenue terms the Apple App Store was still twice as large as Google Play."

For more:
- read this Android Developers Blog post

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