Google Play services powers a broad set of SDKs on Android to help you build your app, enhance privacy and security, engage users, and grow your business. These SDKs are unique in that they only require a thin client library to be included in your app, as shown in figure 1. At runtime, the client library communicates with the bulk of the SDK's implementation and footprint in Google Play services.
By providing shared, client-side implementations, Google Play services:
- Helps to optimize on-device resources, such as storage and memory, to improve app quality and your users' overall experience.
- Receives automatic updates—independent of OS, OEM, or app updates—so your users receive improvements and bug fixes more quickly.
- Powers SDKs that are backward compatible to Android 4.1 (API level 16) and are available on a variety of form factors, enabling you to reach more users with less effort.
Figure 1. Google Play services receives regular updates that contain improvements and bug fixes.
How Google Play services works
Each SDK powered by Google Play services provides a lightweight client library that contains the necessary APIs to interact with its respective service. Other APIs allow you to resolve any issues at runtime, such as missing, disabled, or out-of-date services. If you are using Android Studio 3.4 or higher and enable code shrinking, the R8 optimizer can help further reduce the footprint of each SDK and its impact on your app's package size.
Google Play services contains on-device Google services that run in the background on every Google-certified Android device.
Automatic updates to Google Play services are delivered independent of carrier, OS, or OEM system image updates. In general, devices running Android 4.1 or higher receive updates automatically, provided that these devices have Google Play services installed and sufficient storage available. This means that users receive improvements and bug fixes more quickly, and you can take advantage of the latest APIs while reaching most devices in the Android ecosystem. Devices older than Android 4.1, or devices without Google Play services installed, aren't supported.