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Android’s new Awareness APIs can give apps amazing context-aware powers

apps are about to get smart behaviors based on the state of your phone. announced a fresh set of Awareness APIs (first announced at I/O) are now available for developers to use in the latest version of Play Services.

The Snapshot API allows an app to get information about you based on the “current context,” such as location and weather conditions. The Fence API looks for a certain set of conditions like the use of headphones or type of movement. says it’s similar to the Geofencing API, only a lot more flexible.

Google offered a few examples. One is with Trulia, which can alert you to nearby open houses—but only when the weather is good and you’re walking near a house you showed interest in. 

open house alert Developers Blog

Another example is to be found with Superplayer Music Playlists, which might offer up some tunes based on the time of day, location, and movement. Imagine getting your road trip playlist automatically as you set off on a long drive, or your workout playlist queued up right when you get to the gym.

superplayer alert Android Developers Blog

Google says the toolset also manages system resources in a more efficient manner in order to avoid battery drain or excessive use of bandwidth. It’s one of those promises that we’ll be able to verify with use over time.

If you want to dig deeper into what’s possible here, you can check out the following video of the session from Google I/O. 

Why this matters: Push alerts can be both useful and annoying. Often times the latter is from when they’re not very smart or timely. If put to use properly, the Awareness APIs may make such notifications more effective if they’re able to deliver more intelligent information. It might be a while before you see a lot of these regularly, and developers will have to tread carefully in order to not overwhelm everyone.

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