New API will simplify Google Drive integration with Android apps, says Google

The Google Drive Android API lets apps combine local and cloud-based storage

Google wants more developers to integrate their Android apps with its storage service Drive, and has released a new API that aims to make it easier.

While Drive integration on Android was possible in the past, the new API offers developers better performance and more features, Google developer advocate Magnus Hyttsten said in a blog post on Thursday.

The native, Java-based Drive Android API is still under development, but developers can now test a preview version that's included in Play Services 4.1.

The API includes the ability to temporarily use storage on the device if it is not connected to a network. The upshot for developers is that they don't have to worry about failed API calls when the phone is offline or experiencing network connectivity problems, according to Hyttsten. Data stored locally will then be automatically transferred to Drive by Android's sync scheduler when connectivity is reestablished.

The API also includes Android user interface components and specialized functionality for interacting with files stored on Drive.

Smartphones and tablets running Android 2.3, also known as Gingerbread, or later versions of the operating system are all compatible with the Drive Android API. The addition of the API will have little effect on the total size of an app, Hyttsten said.

Applications compiled using the preview version will continue to work on devices using future versions of Play services. However, changes to the interface are expected in future releases, which means that developers have to rewrite their apps to take of that.

Online storage is a crowded field, and Google isn't the only company that wants to make its service more useful by opening the door for third party app integration. For example, competitor Dropbox offers a number of APIs for developers of Android apps, as well as other platforms. The ability to save files from third party Android or iOS apps to Dropbox is coming soon, according to Dropbox's website.

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