Software

Tear down reveals Google Play's possible future

Read time 1min 40sec

An array of features strikingly similar to that of Valve's Steam client seem likely to be deployed by Google in its efforts to enhance gaming popularity on Android, after being discovered through a 'tear down'.

While interrogating the new Google Play Services (v3.1.36), Ron Amadeo, of Androidpolice.com, noted an increase of 400 entries in the updated version's strings file compared to that of its predecessor (v3.0.27).

The discovery comes just before the start of the Google I/O event, which takes place in San Francisco from 15 to 17 May, where an announcement is likely to be made.

Whether the service will mirror iOS's Game Center, or strive to be more central to the experience, is not yet known, as Google has yet to confirm any of the material found by Amadeo.

After analysing the Android Package (APK) file, a variant of the Java Archive (JAR) format, Android Police writes that among its currently unimplemented services were methods like 'games.ui.client.matches.ClientInvitationListActivity' and '...LeaderboardListActivity', strongly suggesting multiplayer integration, along with leader boards, achievements and icons.

This is further suggested by evidence of a save game sync service, allowing for multiple platforms and devices to be used for play-throughs, implied by the code 'Game Data'. Amadeo believes save-syncs to be highly likely due to the file manifest including a 'games_sync_adapter'.

Also noted by Amadeo is integration with Google+ accounts, and the ability to change accounts on the fly, as well as deciding whether users want their actions to be public. Users can hide their scores, as well as see what percentile their score places them in.

He notes a definite focus on getting users back to Google+, with built-in 'boasting', challenging their circles to top their performance, such as in the likely output '"I'm playing %1$s. Can you beat my high score?%2$s"'.

Amadeo has yet to complete his APK examination, and is quick to point out it is unfinished, stating that his examining of the Google Play Services has also revealed a lot of non-gaming-related code that he doesn't understand the function of just yet.

The findings may surprise some, as Android boss Sundar Pichai told Wired earlier this week that spectators should not expect too much from Google or Android this year, as they are focusing on developer tools over hardware and software platforms for the near future.

No doubt the Google I/O 2013 event will aid in understanding the code, and what is planned for the next Google game service.

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