Google Play Services 5.0 rolls out, prepping Android devices for Wear

Google Play Services arrives for 99 percent of Android devices.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

The latest version of Google Play Services, Google's partial answer to Android OS version fragmentation, has rolled out to all devices running Android 2.3 Gingerbread through to 4.4 KitKat.

Android diehards might have already have a light fever over what's coming in Android L, but an equally important update rolled out yesterday to nearly all Android devices — 99.02 percent to be precise — that connect to the Google Play app store.

Google Play Services (GPS) arrived in 2012 to unify APIs for Google services such as Maps that developers can tap into with their own apps, offering both Google and developers a way to patch apps regardless of the OS version they run on and without relying on carrier or device support.

While many of the new features were announced at Google's I/O event last month, the update's arrival on devices is an important one for Google's Wear initiative since the first devices running on the platform are slated to ship in the next week.

Developers will have access to three main Wear APIs that let apps sync data, exchange control messages, and transfer assets between apps on a compatible phone and Wear device.

While GPS is rolling out to nearly all Android phones, Wear is designed for Android 4.3 and up. Google has published a web page where users can check compatibility through the browser on their device.

GPS 5.0 also brings improved analytics capabilities for ecommerce sites to measure marketing and merchandising strategies, and its updated app indexing API, which makes an app searchable like a web page.

"Integrating with the App Indexing API allows the Google Search app to serve up your app’s history to users as instant Search suggestions, providing fast and easy access to inner pages in your app. The deep links reported using the App Indexing API are also used by Google to index your app’s content and surface them as deep links to Google search result," Google explained.

Google Wallet also gains a 'Save to Wallet' button support for offers that are saved in the app. Coupled with location-specific in-store notifications, the feature is meant to get more people redeeming the offers at the checkout.

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