Moving Past GoogleApiClient

Posted by Sam Stern, Developer Programs Engineer

The release of version 11.6.0 of the Google Play services SDK moves a number of popular APIs to a new paradigm for accessing Google APIs on Android. We have reworked the APIs to reduce boilerplate, improve UX, and simplify authentication and authorization.

The primary change in this release is the introduction of new Task
and href="">GoogleApi
based APIs to replace the GoogleApiClient access pattern.

The following APIs are newly updated to eliminate the use of

  • Auth - updated the Google Sign In and Credentials APIs.
  • Drive - updated the Drive and Drive Resource APIs.
  • Fitness - updated the Ble, Config, Goals, History,
    Recording, Sensors, and Sessions APIs.
  • Games - updated the Achievements, Events, Games, Games
    Metadata, Invitations, Leaderboards, Notifications, Player Stats, Players,
    Realtime Multiplayer, Snapshots, Turn Based Multiplayer, and Videos APIs.
  • Nearby - updated the Connections and Messages

These APIs join others that made the switch in previous releases, such as the
Awareness, Cast, Places, Location, and Wallet APIs.

The Past: Using GoogleApiClient

Here is a simple Activity that demonstrates how one would access the Google
Drive API using GoogleApiClient using a previous version of the
Play services SDK:

class="prettyprint">public class MyActivity extends AppCompatActivity implements
GoogleApiClient.ConnectionCallbacks {

private static final int RC_SIGN_IN = 9001;

private GoogleApiClient mGoogleApiClient;

protected void onCreate(@Nullable Bundle savedInstanceState) {

GoogleSignInOptions options =
new GoogleSignInOptions.Builder(GoogleSignInOptions.DEFAULT_SIGN_IN)

mGoogleApiClient = new GoogleApiClient.Builder(this)
.enableAutoManage(this, this)
.addApi(Auth.GOOGLE_SIGN_IN_API, options)

// ...
// Not shown: code to handle sign in flow
// ...

public void onConnectionFailed(@NonNull ConnectionResult connectionResult) {
// GoogleApiClient connection failed, most API calls will not work...

public void onConnected(@Nullable Bundle bundle) {
// GoogleApiClient is connected, API calls should succeed...

public void onConnectionSuspended(int i) {
// ...

private void createDriveFile() {
// If this method is called before "onConnected" then the app will crash,
// so the developer has to manage multiple callbacks to make this simple
// Drive API call.
.setResultCallback(new ResultCallback<DriveApi.DriveContentsResult>() {
// ...

The code is dominated by the concept of a connection, despite using the
simplified "automanage" feature. A GoogleApiClient is only
connected when all APIs are available and the user has signed in (when APIs
require it).

This model has a number of pitfalls:

  • Any connection failure prevents use of any of the requested APIs, but using
    multiple GoogleApiClient objects is unwieldy.
  • The concept of a "connection" is inappropriately overloaded. Connection
    failures can be result from Google Play services being missing or from
    authentication issues.
  • The developer has to track the connection state, because making some calls
    before onConnected is called will result in a crash.
  • Making a simple API call can mean waiting for two callbacks. One to wait
    until the GoogleApiClient is connected and another for the API call

The Future: Using GoogleApi

Over the years the need to replace GoogleApiClient became apparent,
so we set out to completely abstract the "connection" process and make it easier
to access individual Google APIs without boilerplate.

Rather than tacking multiple APIs onto a single API client, each API now has a
purpose-built client object class that extends GoogleApi. Unlike
with GoogleApiClient there is no performance cost to creating many
client objects. Each of these client objects abstracts the connection logic,
connections are automatically managed by the SDK in a way that maximizes both
speed and efficiency.

Authenticating with GoogleSignInClient

When using GoogleApiClient, authentication was part of the
"connection" flow. Now that you no longer need to manage connections, you
should use the new GoogleSignInClient class to initiate

class="prettyprint">public class MyNewActivity extends AppCompatActivity {

private static final int RC_SIGN_IN = 9001;

private GoogleSignInClient mSignInClient;

protected void onCreate(@Nullable Bundle savedInstanceState) {

GoogleSignInOptions options =
new GoogleSignInOptions.Builder(GoogleSignInOptions.DEFAULT_SIGN_IN)

mSignInClient = GoogleSignIn.getClient(this, options);

private void signIn() {
// Launches the sign in flow, the result is returned in onActivityResult
Intent intent = mSignInClient.getSignInIntent();
startActivityForResult(intent, RC_SIGN_IN);

protected void onActivityResult(int requestCode, int resultCode, Intent data) {
super.onActivityResult(requestCode, resultCode, data);

if (requestCode == RC_SIGN_IN) {
Task<GoogleSignInAccount> task =
if (task.isSuccessful()) {
// Sign in succeeded, proceed with account
GoogleSignInAccount acct = task.getResult();
} else {
// Sign in failed, handle failure and update UI
// ...

Making Authenticated API Calls

Making API calls to authenticated APIs is now much simpler and does not require
waiting for multiple callbacks.

class="prettyprint"> private void createDriveFile() {
// Get currently signed in account (or null)
GoogleSignInAccount account = GoogleSignIn.getLastSignedInAccount(this);

// Synchronously check for necessary permissions
if (!GoogleSignIn.hasPermissions(account, Drive.SCOPE_FILE)) {
// Note: this launches a sign-in flow, however the code to detect
// the result of the sign-in flow and retry the API call is not
// shown here.
GoogleSignIn.requestPermissions(this, RC_DRIVE_PERMS,
account, Drive.SCOPE_FILE);

DriveResourceClient client = Drive.getDriveResourceClient(this, account);
.addOnCompleteListener(new OnCompleteListener<DriveContents>() {
public void onComplete(@NonNull Task<DriveContents> task) {
// ...

Before making the API call we add an inline check to make sure that we have
signed in and that the sign in process granted the scopes we require.

The call to createContents() is simple, but it's actually taking
care of a lot of complex behavior. If the connection to Play services has not
yet been established, the call is queued until there is a connection. This is in
contrast to the old behavior where calls would fail or crash if made before

In general, the new GoogleApi-based APIs have the following

  • No connection logic, calls that require a connection are queued until a
    connection is available. Connections are pooled when appropriate and torn down
    when not in use, saving battery and preventing memory leaks.
  • Sign in is completely separated from APIs that consume
    GoogleSignInAccount which makes it easier to use authenticated APIs
    throughout your app.
  • Asynchronous API calls use the new Task API rather than
    PendingResult, which allows for easier management and

These new APIs will improve your development process and enable you to make
better apps.

Next Steps

Ready to get started with the new Google Play services SDK?

Happy building!

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