Google Play Services 7.8 brings barcode reader, face detection, and improved cloud messaging

Android apps will soon be able to more easily detect facial expressions and read barcodes thanks to an update to Google Play Services.

Google announced on its Android Developers Blog it’s wrapped up the rollout of Play Services 7.8, which packs in a lot of developer tools.

Why this matters: Google Play Services is the main engine behind features that developers can build into their Android apps. This way even if you don’t have the latest build of Android, your device will still be able to tap into the latest goodies. Expect it to be a while before any of these new capabilities show up in apps, as developers need build and test using the new tools.

If you checked out the video, you’ll see that Android apps will be able to use a new Face Detection API that can analyze particular orientations of one’s face. Google stresses it’s not facial recognition—it’s more akin to being able to recognize if the device is looking at a face and spotting multiple orientations, not using your face to determine your identity.

Another API allows an app to access a wide range of 1D and 2D barcode standards. Developers had to jump through a large number of hoops in order to avoid kicking you out of the app to install a scanner under previous APIs. This could be a great enhancement for shopping comparison apps that let you scan a barcode to pull up a price or other details about a product.

Google also touted improvements to its Google Cloud Messaging API, which is what developers tap into for sending you instant notifications. Developers will be able to put a rush on certain notifications so they arrive faster, or allow an app to generate a notification based on your location. 

Also, the Nearby API is now live in Play Services 7.8, which adds in multi-screen and multi-player gaming and the ability for a group of users to collaborate over a virtual whiteboard.


Derek Walter

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