The Google Play Services APIs for Android

May 27, 2016 at 9:05 am 1 comment


Why Use the Google Play Services APIs?

Google Play Services (also known as Google APIs for Android) and abbreviated GPS, is a set of APIs that are delivered in the form of an app that can be updated via the Google Play Store. The reason Google provides these APIs this way is to reduce fragmentation of the Android platform. Fragmentation is a result of many different versions of Android running on devices out in the wild.

Fragmentation of Android OS Versions

The Android Developers Dashboard shows the current distribution of Android OS versions on users devices at any given time. At the time of this writing there are a significant number of devices running various versions of Marshmallow, Lollipop, KitKat, and Jellybean, and smaller numbers of devices running Ice Cream Sandwich, Gingerbread, and Froyo.


There are several reasons so many devices have not updated to more recent versions. One is that updates depend on hardware manufacturers and network operators. These companies are often slow to roll out updates and will only update devices a few times before they stop supporting them. Another reason is that older devices often can’t handle the latest version of the Android OS.

A Set of APIs that are Frequently (and Silently) Updated

Google Play Services solves the fragmentation problem by providing a way to deliver updates to important APIs without requiring an update to the whole operating system. Devices running an Android version as old as Gingerbread (Version 2.3, API level 9), or newer, will get updates to Google Play Services through the Google Play Store. These updates will generally be automatically and silently installed within days of the update being released. So old devices, will be taught new tricks; and more importantly, a large percentage of devices in the wild will be using the same version of the GPS APIs.

Functionality Provided by Google Play Services

The GPS APIs provide a wealth of functionality. Here are some of the types of functionality provided:

  • Location Awareness
  • Google Cast (Stream content to TVs and speakers)
  • Google Play Game Services
  • Google Fit
  • Google Drive
  • Voice Actions
  • Firebase APIs

These aren’t are the APIs You’re Looking forkenobi_011

In many cases you will have a choice between using an API that is part of the Android operating system or a GPS API. For example, you can use the android.location API to get location information, or you can use the Google Play Services Fused Location Provider API. The Fused Location Provider is the better choice because it will benefit from the “evergreen” updating provided by GPS and provide the best functionality and performance.

To add GPS to your Android Studio app project follow this guide: Setting Up Google Play Services

To add GPS to your Xamarin Studio or Visual Studio project, follow this guide: Introducing the Google Play Services Component for Xamarin.Android Note that you can add GPS through either NuGet or through the Xamarin Component Store.

Enjoy using GPS to enable your apps to always use the latest APIs!

Here’s a referral code to get a $20 credit when you join Google Fi! Redeem it at

Entry filed under: Android, C#, Development, Java, Mobile, Programming, Xamarin. Tags: , , , , .

Testing Location-Aware Android Apps on an Emulator Using the Android Fused Location Provider

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Create Location-Aware Android Apps | Bird's Bits  |  May 27, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    […] so it is written in C# but still uses the Fused Location Provider API which is provided by Google Play Services . My code is available on GitHub in a Xamarin Studio / Visual Studio solution: Geolocation […]


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