Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Why I think Google Play Services was a good idea, executed very poorly

It's been a while since I've really said anything here on Techman's World that's really in depth on Android. However, lying around in bed at night, I decided to take a look at Google Play Services again.


First, here's some backstory. As some folks on IRC might know, I run an older Android 2.3 device. I've been using that for a little over a year now, and it was perfect and suited my needs until around 1-2 months ago. That's when the age of the device (including the version of Android) started to show.

Google Play Services was something introduced by Google a few months ago, to address some problems they've been having on Android. It's now how you get push notifications, and it's also how most apps interact with Google APIs now. It has its benefits, and it has its bad points.

The Problem

The reason why I think Google really messed up with Play services because,
  1. The size of it has increasingly jumped as they have shoved more and more of their APIs into the package in each update. It used to be ~1mb, then 5, then 10, then 20, and now ~35mb.
  2. Errors across the globe. One of the main reasons why Google executed this poorly is because of the Play store itself. Remember those occasional errors when installing apps? Well, imagine that happening in this scenario, where if you can't get this installed, most Google apps will refuse to work, and many others will "break".
  3. They don't take older devices into account. Play Services continues to expand in size, and users are forced to use it. Older devices (such as mine) simply do not have space for something like this. We aren't going to make our phones useless by uninstalling apps and replacing it with something that really doesn't do much for the end user.
  4. Without this, you lose push notifications because Google phased out C2DM for new applications.

The Reviews

Some people will disagree with my reasons; I actually expect that. However, before you are quick to jump and put something in the comments, let's take a look at some of the reviews. They basically highlight my points above, but the opinions are in greater numbers. Here is just 6 of the many reviews that all basically say the same thing.

What you see are just 6 reviews. There's plenty more to see on the Play store.


Now that I've gotten my point across, I have an idea for Google Play Services. Instead of having everything bundled in one package, why not offer "split up" packages as well? Google wants to put all of their APIs in Play services, but it doesn't mean that every single app uses every single API. How about you install only the dependencies you need specifically for you? It can be done.

To be honest, the most important thing I see from Google Play Services, which was its original purpose: GCM (Google Cloud Messaging). I think that push notifications should be separate from everything else, because that alone is very important.

Another solution is to perhaps find ways to decrease the size of Google Play Services when installed, or allow portions (or all of it) to be moved to the SD card. To be honest, most lower-end devices can install a lot of apps if they could be installed on the SD card. I understand the developmental reasons for not allowing Google Play Services to be installed on a SD card.


Whether you all want to take my opinions and suggestions seriously or not, one things for sure: Google isn't listening to the reviews/feedback. I think this is really terrible on their part, but everyone knows that their priority is not on older devices.