Mobile gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry, yet apart from providing new APIs and services for game developers, Google hasn’t added many user-facing gaming features to Android itself. That is until Android 12, which is set for release later this fall. When Android 12 rolls out, it’ll bring with it a new Game Dashboard feature. This dashboard provides quick access to useful tools like a screen recorder, FPS monitor, and more, and it also has a widget showing achievement and leaderboard data from Google Play Games. Google previewed the Game Dashboard and its Play Games widget at the Google for Games Developer Summit earlier this year, and it’s now starting to roll out.
Version 2021.07.28550 of the Google Play Games app is rolling out now via the Play Store, and after installing it on my Pixel 3 XL running Android 12 Beta 4, the Google Play Games widget finally populated in the Game Dashboard whenever I loaded up a game that supports Play Games. SpongeBob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated, for example, showed me how many achievements I’ve completed. If a game has leaderboards, the number of them is shown here as well.
Tapping on the widget opens another page that shows your username on Play Games, your Google Account’s email address, and cards leading to the achievements, leaderboards, and the profile & privacy settings pages in Play Games. The achievements card shows the last achievement you unlocked, and I’m presuming the leaderboards card also previews more information (I’m not on any leaderboards so I can’t tell.) Tapping on either the achievements or leaderboards card will surface more information about the available achievements and leaderboards without opening the full Play Games app, making the Game Dashboard a convenient way to check your progress/status in-game.
When Google announced the Game Dashboard feature last month, they stated it will be available on “select devices” running Android 12 later this year. They also stated that it won’t be available in beta releases, but as we’ve found out, that isn’t entirely true. For the past few releases, it’s been possible to access the Game Dashboard by going to Settings > Notifications > Do Not Disturb > Schedules. Tapping on the cog icon next to the “Gaming” schedule leads you to the “Game settings” page, which contains a global toggle for the Game Dashboard and the “Do Not Disturb for games feature”. This “Game settings” page will also be accessible from Settings > Apps at launch. In Beta 4, the floating game overlay started to show up for people whenever they launched a properly categorized game, making it possible for users to access the Game Dashboard from within a game.
With the addition of Google Play Games integration, the Game Dashboard is nearly feature-complete. All that’s missing now is game optimization settings, but that relies on apps supporting the new Game Mode APIs in Android 12. Once that happens, we’ll be able to select a performance profile on a per-game basis.