Imagine playing a game on your Android phone or tablet with a friend who's playing the same game on an iOS device -- cross-platform support, in other words. That's the promise behind what may be the most significant new feature in a medley of enhancements coming to the gaming side of Google Play, unveiled by Google at the Game Developer's Conference this morning (the developer-focused video games show kicks off today in San Francisco and runs all this week) .
Google says the feature will bring "turn-based and real-time multiplayer capabilities to both Android and iOS," and that it's updating its Unity-related plugin to support cross-platform multiplayer. It's also rolling out a C++ SDK that'll fold in all-important achievements and leaderboards.
Other features include a new analytics tool in the Google Play Developer Console (a dashboard that helps track daily player engagement, active users, achievements and leaderboard activity), something called "game gifts" that'll let players wing in-game objects at their peers, and direct multiplayer invite support. There are new game categories as well, bringing the total to 18 and making the genre-hunt more granular (Google's FAQ has the new category list). Google says it's also tweaking its ad-focused AdMob platform to help developers devise better targeted (and therefore theoretically more alluring) in-app purchases.
For anyone not attending the relevant GDC sessions, Google says it'll live-stream them on YouTube, starting tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. ET.