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Google I/O 2013: Play game services launched as Android rival to Apple's iOS GameCenter

Google has released a set of new APIs intended to boost the gaming experience on Android.

Google Play Games Services includes a new family of APIs, including cloud save, which will allow developers to sync their games across devices, from game progression to game state. If you finish a level on your Android phone, pick it up later on the tablet, Hugo Barra, vice president of product management for Android, said during his Google I/O 2013 keynote.

Developers can also incorporate leaderboards and achievements, much like Apple's GameCenter. Players can tap into public leaderboards or drill down and compete against those in their Google+ Circles. Unlike the Cupertino-based firm's offering, however, Google's version will be cross-platform, so it will work on Android, iOS, and the web.

A demo of the service was not cooperative at the Google I/O developer conference, but Barra said the features will be available in several games from today.

Gaming was just one of the updates announced today for Google Play Services. The search giant also unveiled three new location APIs.

A fused location provider, for example, is a "completely rewritten location algorithm," Barra said, so apps pick up on location faster and with more accuracy. There's also a new low-power location mode so apps don't use as much power.

With geo-fencing, meanwhile, developers can "define virtual fences around geographic areas," which trigger as people enter and exit. One app can have up to 100 geofences, Barra said.

The third API takes advantage of the fitness app craze, allowing developers to use the accelerometer and a machine-learning classifier to figure out when someone is walking, driving, or cycling. This works without turning on GPS to preserve battery.

Barra also announced an update to Google+ sign-in, which will allow for cross-platform single sign-in. If you sign into the Fancy with your Google Account, for example, and it prompts you to download the Fancy app on your Android tablet, you will already be signed into the Fancy when that app launches.

All of the announced updates will roll out via Google Play Services and will work on all Android devices running Froyo and up, Barra said.