What is GMS? The Android operating system that many users use is often referred to as open-source software. This means that the original code is available to the public and anyone can make changes to it. While this is true, the truth is that most Android phones do not use the raw and open-source versions of Android. Google Mobile Services (GMS) plays a very important role in these phones, which we will discuss in the following.
The open-source part of Android is called AOSP. Although Google’s mobile services are based on AOSP, on the other hand, they bring many of the features expected from Android phones. The main difference between the two is that GMS is not open source and Google licenses it to different companies.
Most Android phones on the market use Google mobile services. Although there are exceptions, the number is very small. So the big question is, what do Google’s mobile services do, and why are they so important?
What is GMS ?
GMS stands for Google Mobile Services and is basically a collection of applications and APIs that are installed at the system level. This means that these services are highly integrated with the operating system.
The API is also a simple shortcut for developers to use it to access various features of the phone, such as the ability to display the contents of the phone on TV or the user’s location. The main part of the Android operating system has several different APIs, but Google’s mobile services significantly increase the features provided to developers.
In addition, GMS includes a number of very useful applications that most users use regularly. Examples include the Play Store, Google Assistant, Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube, and more.
Even if you do not use any of these applications, you are likely to use GMS in a variety of situations. For example, when you buy an Android phone, by entering your Google account details, all the vital information of the previous phone, such as contact list, settings, WiFi passwords and other such things, will be transferred to the new phone without any hassle. This process is done entirely by Google’s mobile services.
How do Google’s mobile services benefit users?
Apart from the mentioned advantages, these services also play an important role in receiving minor updates and security updates. In addition, some of the benefits of these services are not visible to users, but make it easier for developers to create and develop applications.
For example, we can mention the ML Kit, which is part of Google’s mobile services. The ML Kit offers several machine learning APIs that perform the desired processing without the need for cloud space and through the phone’s chipset. A developer using these APIs both reduces application development time and increases its attractiveness.
Another cool feature is called Fast Pair, which allows the phone to automatically detect Bluetooth gadgets around it. In this regard, we can mention useful features such as Find My Device, Smart Lock, and Digital Wellbeing, which all rely on Google mobile services. Some applications also use Google services to provide notifications.
In 2019, Google launched the Mainline project with the aim of modulating the Android operating system to provide important security updates through the Play Store. Also a few years ago, the Google Play Protect service was introduced, which scans the applications installed on the phone in the background to alert users if there are any suspicious cases.
Do all Android phones have GMS ?
The vast majority of Android phones use Google’s mobile services because users expect features based on those services. Of course, there are exceptions in this regard, which we will address in the next section.
Phones that want to use these services must meet at least the criteria defined by Google. That’s why Google is conducting several tests to check the eligibility of these phones. The documentation for these tests will be updated based on newer versions of Android. These documents list the minimum requirements for handsets to receive Google mobile services, from screen resolution to privacy features.
But why is this so important to Google? Because it wants the Android user experience to be largely the same on different phones. Users who buy Android phones have certain expectations, and with these strictures, Google makes sure to provide the features expected by users. Despite these restrictions, almost all manufacturers have no choice but to use Google’s mobile services because these services have now become a standard among Android phones.
Can we use Android without Google services?
Android is a fully functional operating system without the use of Google mobile services and can do most of the things expected by users. It should be noted that almost all Android phones in the Chinese market do not have Google services, which is due to the ban on Google activity and the filtering of its services.
On the other hand, we can mention the FireOS user interface used by Amazon tablets. This user interface is based on Android but does not use Google services, and instead, Amazon has put its own App Store in this user interface. Huawei can no longer use Google’s mobile services due to US sanctions on its handsets, and for this and other reasons, their sales figures have dropped significantly.
But what is the experience of using Android without Google services? If you are used to the Google ecosystem, you will face many challenges without these services. You can only use the company’s App Store on Amazon gadgets. Although it is possible to install various applications manually, without Google services, their performance may be problematic and even some of them will not open at all in this situation. The same problems exist for Huawei phones.
For example, online taxi applications that use Google Maps for their maps will have problems without Google services. Despite all these problems, a limited number of users are in favor of using phones without Google’s mobile services due to privacy concerns. When these services do not exist on a phone, Google will not be able to use their data.
Some custom ROMs, such as CalyxOS, offer Android without Google services. Even LineageOS, which is the most popular custom ROM, allows the installation of Google applications and their use is not mandatory.
Status of other Android gadgets
The Android operating system is used in a variety of products from smartwatches and TVs to cars. So are Google mobile services available for these products? In answer to this question, we must say that gadgets based on Android TV, Android Auto, Android Go, Chrome OS, and WearOS can use these services.
The presence of Google services in all kinds of gadgets makes the work of developers much easier. Unlike Android, where companies can choose to use Google services, there is no such choice for WearOS and Android TV, and all gadgets based on them must have Google services.
Can we install Google Mobile Services manually?
Android phones usually come to users from the beginning with Google services. But as we said, some of these phones do not have Google mobile services and there is no general solution to install these services on all phones and tablets without GMS.
For example, you can easily do this on Amazon Kindle Fire series tablets. On the other hand, Xiaomi phones coming to the Chinese market usually have the Google Play services framework, in which case, you can take advantage of all the features of Google by installing only one or two applications.
But overall, there is no definitive solution in this regard. For example, in 2021, Xiaomi launched its handsets in the Chinese market for several months without the Google Play services framework, so users had to use more sophisticated solutions to install GMS. Also, as we said, Huawei phones do not have Google mobile services due to sanctions.
That’s why Huawei has developed alternative services called Huawei Mobile Services (HMS). The company has tried to replace Google applications, and we also see features such as voice assistant and cloud space. On the other hand, APIs similar to GMS have been developed so that applications do not run into problems.
All in all, installing Google Mobile Services on some phones only takes a few minutes, and on others, it will take hours. Also, even if you do, these services may not work as well as you would expect. Therefore, it is best to buy a phone with Google mobile services from the beginning.
In short, Google’s mobile services are a vital part of Android phones and tablets. Although many users are unaware of the existence of such services, behind the scenes play an important role in the appeal of Android gadget software.
Source: Android Authority