During its latest APK Insights exploration, 9to5Google has discovered several strings of code in the Android app for Google’s cloud gaming platform (v4.6) that could hint at possible or upcoming features. Today, we’re going to have a look at what was found, and then I’ll give you some thoughts on what I think it all means.
First, references to something called “Device Motion” are strewn throughout the updated code. Basically, this looks to be some sort of motion control scheme that would allow gamers to indicate specific gamepad inputs just by moving their device. The built-in gyroscope would detect these motions (Let’s pretend shaking the device, flicking it with your wrist, or tilting it, for example) and then convert them to actual input to allow the game to be played.
There is a reference to ‘get:tiltAngle’, and several mentions of “SensorToGamepad” are listed, so we’ll have to wait to see how this actually turns out. 9to5Google uses a racing game as an example for such a control scheme, and I’m inclined to agree. It’s hard to imagine shaking or dipping your screen to shoot in an FPS game or tilting it for an RPG would be effective since that would mean that your visual focus of the on-screen elements would be broken.
Next, the touch gamepad that was introduced last year is getting a visual redesign. Apparently, new icons exist for gamepad pairing and the on-screen touch inputs are less outlined or fancy. As you can see below, (both images are credited to 9to5Google) the new choices on the right are more transparent, though significantly less appealing on screen. However, once implemented, they will likely may make for a more visually accessible layout and design, specifically if they get in the way less thanks to that aforementioned transparency.
Other mentions in the APK Insights include references to “Broadcaster” and “Spectators”, which probably means that Google is looking at ways to let gamers either view Stadia live streams right from the app or to improve live streaming as a host. Lastly, there are code strings referring to something called “enterprise game IDs”, and while we don’t yet know what these are, it’s likely that they’re going to end up being Stadia handles that game studios or publishers can hand out to their employees for testing and development on the platform.
Stadia was recently featured on the homepage of the Games section of the Google Play Store, and many of the Store’s game splash features have copied Stadia’s zooming technique that appears when you boot up a cloud title. The use of separate image layers for the background, middle ground, and even the foreground as well as for the game’s logo all zooming in at different speeds creates an awesome parallax effect that was previously unique to Stadia at Google.
All of this is to say that the Stadia team is hard at work to improve and grow the service and their influence is spreading throughout the company and its design teams. I can’t wait to see what they cook up next, and I hope anything that comes with these updates will also effect change across other Google services with time.