Google has added an advanced local multiplayer gaming feature to Android.
Multiplayer gaming on smartphones is a curiously remote, isolated experience. Considering we all carry them around with us, it's perhaps surprising that our main interaction with other real players in the mobile games we play is via a highscore table.
When we do hook up with other players, it's either through turn-based play or remote competition over a Wi-Fi network. Local multiplayer gaming is possible through a shared Wi-Fi connection, but it's rarely utilised.
Now Google has taken a step towards making local multiplayer gaming more intuitive and appealing. The latest version of Google Play Games, Android's gaming framework, has added the ability for players to locate other nearby players.
"Through games that support Play Games multiplayer, players can now invite others nearby into the same game when starting a multiplayer session, creating more local competitive and cooperative experiences," explains the Android Developers website.
It sounds a little like Nintendo's StreetPass feature, which allows 3DS gamers to share game data with other players they pass in the street.
Whether Android game developers will take full advantage of this feature remains to be seen, of course. At present, the state of gaming on the Google Play Store is much healthier then it once was, but the vast majority of games that turn up on it are made with iOS as the lead platform.
While this remains the case, it's doubtful whether many developers will exploit the Android platform's latest unique feature to its full potential.
Read More: Android 5.0 Lollipop - What's new?