The big thing is that it’s available on 98.7 percent of active Android devices. So for Google’s own services, Android fragmentation is a solved problem. I don’t see how this helps third-party developers deal with Android fragmentation, though (other than integration between their apps and Google services). Google has solved their own fragmentation problem, and that’s it.
A little shocked that John Gruber didn't know that or care to find out.
It is via Google Play Services that the new location features are provided to Android devices.