Attention Android gamers: Now, what happens in Vice City on your phone doesn't have to stay in Vice City on your phone--or even on Android.
Announced Wednesday during the Google I/O keynote address, the new Google Play Games services APIs let developers include the fun features we first heard about as part of last week's leak. As anticipated, Google Play Games services packs in support for cloud-synced game progression, in-game achievements, leaderboards, and a heavy dose of Google+ integration designed to make it easier than ever to play nice with others.
Cloud-synced games work pretty much as you'd expect it to: You can start a game on one device, then pick up where you left off on another. Likewise, the addition of in-game achievements--similar to what Apple offers in iOS's Game Center--is relatively straightforward.
Speaking of Apple, the Play games services API can carry over to iOS and the Web, essentially allowing developers to create a cross-platform gaming experience if they choose to use Google's gaming APIs.
Google+ will serve as the identity backbone for games tapping in to Play Games services, and sits at the heart of its social abilities: Notifications, game invites, leaderboards and matchmaking tools will all be made available to mobile game players, and all tap into your G+ circles.
Don't have any buddies online or willing to waste time with you? Play Games can find you some friends--or at least competitors--with its baked-in auto match-making tool.
Google tried showing off the Riptide 2 game in-action, but the demo didn't quite showcase the new features in the best light.
Android vice president Hugo Barra says Google will supply all the heavy lifting on the backend, and Google's been working with a bevy of mobile game developers to offer a flood of Play Games-enabled titles today. Expect to see them in the Google Play store later, after a Play services update brings Games support to all Android devices rocking the Froyo OS (that's Android 2.2) or higher.