Google makes way for wearables with Play Services update

New APIs make it easier it to communicate with apps running on Android-based wearables.

Google has released a new version of Play Services that opens the door to more smartwatch apps and cooler games.

Play Services is a set of features used to integrate apps with Google's services. Version 5.0 is now rolled out to devices worldwide, and it includes a number of APIs (application programming interfaces) that developers can use to improve their apps, Google said in a blog post on Wednesday.

The company has been working hard to convince developers to customize their apps to integrate with Android Wear-based smartwatches such as the G Watch from LG Electronics, Motorola's Moto 360 and the Gear Live from Samsung Electronics.

That work continues in Play Services 5.0 with APIs that make it easier to communicate with apps running on Android-based wearables. Developers can take advantage of persistent storage that's automatically synchronized, and a low-latency messaging interface.

Google has also added two new features for game developers. "Saved Games" is an improved way of saving a player's progress to the cloud for use across different devices. A player can start a game on an Android phone and continue on a tablet, web browser, or iOS device. The new service allows developers to tag each saved game with a screen snapshot showing where the player had got to.

Google wants game developers to migrate from the existing Cloud Save service to the new Saved Games service as soon as possible, it said.

Developers can also send game activity data to the new Quests service whenever a player "successfully wins a level, kills an alien, or saves a rare black sheep," Google said. That data can in turn be used to build time-based challenges within a game, for example.

More information about Play Services 5.0, including developer guides and API references, can be found on the Google developer website.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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