Around five years after its first launch, Google Play Services has become the most downloaded Android app. The app has surpassed the mark of five billion downloads on Play Store -- remarkably surpassing the total downloads of popular apps such as Chrome, Facebook and WhatsApp.
The Play Store listing shows 3.9 ratings for Play Services that emerge through over 12 million reviews. Notably, the proprietary background service app is a part of Android devices since 2012 and had hit the mark of one billion downloads in January 2014.
While the initial version of Google Play Service provided access to the Google+ APIs and OAuth 2.0, it presently enables communication with the entire Google Mobile Services stack. "This component provides core functionality like authentication to your Google services, synchronised contacts, access to all the latest user privacy settings and higher-quality, low-powered location based services," reads the official description of Play Services on the Play Store.
Alongside providing the basics, Play Services helps developers to enhance app experience on Android platform by enabling features such as offline search, immersive maps and improved graphics delivery.
Suggests billions of active Android devices
The new data rationalises the availability of billions of Android devices around the globe. Google CEO Sundar Pichai claimed at his I/O keynote earlier this year that there were more than two billion active Android devices. However, that number is likely to be grown to new levels now.
Google counts download numbers of an app through the first instance when a user installs it through the Play Store. This means that updating or installing an app after a previous uninstallation won't be considered in the Play Store stats. So in the case of Play Services, it hints something big for the Android ecosystem -- a larger existence of active Android devices.
It is also worth noting that there are several smartphones and tablets available that have no Google app -- even the absence of Play Services and Play Store. Some previous-generation BlackBerry smartphones are a great example of such hardware. Likewise, the Play Services app is not pre-installed on devices available in regions like China.
It is, therefore, hard to predict the total number of Android devices from the latest downloads.
That being said, the latest development proves success of another Google app on Android ecosystem that counters against Apple's iOS and grabs the market shareleft by Microsoft's Windows Phone.