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Google’s Awareness API lets devs build context aware apps that intelligently respond to situations


Update 6/27: The Google Awareness API is now available to all developers as part of Play Services 9.2. Using seven types of context, apps can intelligently react to what users are doing. The Snapshot API lets developers request information about the user’s current context, while the Fence API lets an app react to changes in a user’s context.

Google worked closely with several partners, including real estate site Trulia to suggest open houses and SuperPlayer Music to suggest music to match the mood. New developer documentation provides more details on how to implement.

With Assistant, Google wants to build technology that is conversational and helpful. Many of the company’s services are being updated to be more useful and Google wants third-party apps to be the same. With the new Awareness API, developers will be able to build apps that intelligently react to a user’s current situation.

During an I/O session, Google gave many examples of what a context aware app could do. The most alluring example involves an alarm app that can adjust when to wake you up based on what time you slept and when your next calendar appointment is. Another example involves a weather app that will Cast the day’s forecast to a nearby television as you walk by it in the morning.

Developers would be able to build these functions into apps by having access to the various sensors on a modern smartphone. The Awareness API exposes seven different types of context — time, location, place, activity, beacons, headphones, weather — to developers. With this context, apps can make inferences about a user’s current situation and react accordingly with a convenient and appropriate feature.

While developers have long had access to all this sensor information, the Awareness API is easier to implement and does more of the work, processes raw signals with advanced algorithms for improved accuracy, and automatically manages impact on battery life and data usage.

Developers can sign up now to get an early access preview of the Awareness API. While features like these are very cool, it will ultimately be up to developers to create and implement such features.

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