What is Google Mobile Services? How Does it Works? What Are the Function?

Google Mobile Services or GMS is an open-source API software on Android phones integrated with the operating system. Know more about it

What are Google Mobile Services
What are Google Mobile Services

Android software is a complex design with kernels, apps, environments, and APIs. The common API used in the Android system is open source.

This open-source API enables the device manufacturer to modify or tweak the Android OS as per the requirements.

The open-source component of Android is the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). GMS, on the other hand, lives on top of AOSP and provides much of the nice-to-have functionality you may have come to expect from modern-day Android.

Besides unlike other AOSPs Google Mobile Services(GMS) is not an open source and it requires a free Google license to device manufacturers or OEMs.

So what are Google Mobile Services and why the GSM is an essential part of Android phones nowadays?

What Are Google Mobile Services (GMS)?

What Are Google Mobile Services (GMS)

Google Mobile Services or GMS is the bundle of applications and APIs(Application Programming Interfaces) for Android device manufacturers like Samsung and others allowing them to use Google products and services on their Android phones and tablets.

Manufacturers need to obtain a free GMS license from Google to implement the GMS-API so that they can integrate the apps and services developed by Google on their Android devices.

In a nutshell, GMS is an API integration of Google Apps on Android devices like Smartphones and tablets to use the Google services and applications developed by Google LLC.

GMS is not part of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), which means device manufacturers need to be licensed to pre-install the GMS bundle on devices.

GMS licensing

GMS licensing

The Android device manufacturer can only use these services as pre-installed or integrated with the stock OS when they have a valid GMS license.

Android phone manufacturers need to obtain a free GMS license from Google to integrate the Google apps( Gmail, YouTube, Chrome and Hangout), Google Services(Google Play store and Google Play Protect)  and Google Cloud Services(GDrive, Google Photos, Maps) etc.

The GMS license is free but it requires a minimum time duration of 6-12 months to obtain from Google.

To receive certification, manufacturers should contact Google, fill out the proper forms and follow procedures surrounding compatibility with GMS applications.

Compatibility tests can be completed through the Android compatibility test suite, called CTS Verifier, or through the Google GMS Test Suite.

These types of tests will verify aspects such as compliance, performance quality, experience, and display resolution.

Read Also: Using Android task manager to control background processes.

Although there are several other AOSPs but the GSM is on the top that makes your Android device a true Android. As we know Android phones are nothing without Google products and applications.

Also, a lack of Google license prohibits your Android from downloading or updating apps and you need to sideload the apps.

Besides there are several other benefits of Google Mobile Service AOSP.

What Are The Benefits of GMS

As discussed above, without a valid GMS license it is not possible to download or update the app on Android device from Google Play Store.

Here are the other benefits of GMS on Android

support for over-the-air updates: 

With GMS certification, Android devices can get the latest firmware update directly from Google Relese globally. Android devices like Samsung also allow an OTA update. Samsung users have access to the OTA update using the CSC Code.

Access To Google Apps Under GMS:

One of the great benefits of the GMS is an Android certified by GMS can use lots of apps on Google Universe. You simply cannot imagine an Android phone without apps like YouTube, Gmail, Maps,

Malware Protection From Play Protect:

Google’s Google Play Protect is a malware protection system that helps your Android to combat potential malware, virus or Keylooger without bothering about antivirus or internet security apps.

Monthly security patch updates:

An Android device using the GMS certification is eligible to receive the frequent security patch that plays a vital role in the safety of device privacy.

Use APIs Like Google Maps:

This is probably the biggest trait of a GMS-certified device. Smartphones play a vital role in daily commuters. Without a GMS license, it is not possible to use Google Maps on Android. Now, it is next to impossible to live without a map now a day.

Disadvantages of GMS-Certified Devices

It may sound weird but yes you read it right, there are a few of the disadvantages of using a (Google Mobile Services)GMS licensed android you must know about.

  • Devices are subject to Google’s Privacy and Terms of Use
  • Pre-loaded apps use up available RAM and ROM
  • Uncertain support for non-standard Android devices
  • No support for Android versions other than 9 or 10
  • Logistical limits to rapid deployment, staging, and provisioning
  • Limitations on-device policy and security configurations (like Google Play Protect)

What is the Google Mobile Services Core?

GMS Core is a part of Android that’s not free and open-source software but is used by apps that want to connect to and use Google’s services.

It works as a set of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that allow developers to use things like Google Maps to show a location or Google Drive to store data like game progress or use Google Sign-in.

What is AOSP?

The Android Open Source Project(AOSP) is an open-source source Android code that is used to manufacture an Android operation system.

Manufacturers use these codes to develop Android operating systems for their Android devices. They are also free to alter the codes to create a customized System UI and features using the AOSP.

Google developed the source code and made it available online – releasing Android to the world in 2008.

The Android operating system is open-source, which means it is free to download and change. This decision allowed Android to proliferate and become the world’s dominant mobile operating system.

Do all Android devices include GMS?

Yes, all the modern Android phone includes the GMS. Without a valid GMS certification Android devices are not allowed to use essential services like the Google Play store, Google Services and Google Maps.

You can still, side-load apps on a non-GMS Android using ADB or using the APK files. But in order to use the core service from Google it is required to have GMS certification.

Other Popular AOSP(Google GMS Alternatives)

There are several Android OS that do not use the GMS as a core. Here is a list of a few of them. The list may include distributions that come pre-installed on a device (stock ROM) or modifications of them. Only builds considered official are listed.

NameDeveloperLast updatedOpen sourceAndroid version
AliOSAlibaba Cloud2018Kernel only
AOKPTeam Kang2020Yes9
Baidu YiBaidu, Inc.2015Kernel onlyUn­known
BharOSIIT Madras2023YesUn­known
CalyxOSCalyx Institute2022Yes12
ColorOSOPPO2023Kernel only13
CopperheadOSCopperhead Security2022Kernel only12
crDroidcrDroid team2023Yes13
CyanogenModCyanogenMod Open-Source Community, Cyanogen Inc2016Yes7.1.1
DivestOSTad (SkewedZeppelin)
2022
Yes
12
operating systeme Foundation2022Partial
12
Emteria.OS
emteria GmbH2022Kernel only13
EMUIHuawei Technologies Co., Ltd.2022No12
Fire OSAmazon.com, Inc.2021-09-25Partial9
GrapheneOS
GrapheneOS team
2022-12-27
Yes
6.0.1
Indus OSTeam Indus OS?Kernel only7
iodéOS
iodé technologies
2022
Partial
12
Kali NetHunterOffensive Security
2022-08-09Yes
5.1.1
LeWa OSLewa Technology?Kernel only
5.1.1
LineageOSLineageOS community2023Yes13
MagicOSHonor2023No13
MIUIXiaomi Corporation2022Partial (Now Kernel only, last Release 2 November 2022)13
OmniROMOmniROM community2020Yes11
One UISamsung Electronics Co., Ltd.2023Kernel only13
OxygenOSOnePlus2022Partial13
Paranoid AndroidParanoid Android Team2022Yes13
Realme UIRealme2023Kernel only13
ReplicantDenis Carikli, Paul Kocialkowski2019Yes6
Resurrection Remix OSResurrection Remix Team2020Yes10
Shift OS
SHIFT GmbH
?
Yes

SlimRoms
SlimRoms Team2018Yes
7.1
Smartisan OS
Smartisan
2020Partial
10

AOSP vs GMS What is the differnce?

Is Google Mobile Services essential?

Many Android users don’t use a host of Google Mobile Services applications – Google Chrome, Gmail, and Google Play Music are popular applications with popular alternatives.

However, the Google Play Store is the gateway to more than 2 million applications and Google Play Services provides Google’s high-accuracy location services, which is the GPS data that provides mapping data to applications from the Google Play Store.

That means non-Google Mobile Services devices can’t download applications from the Google Play Store and miss mapping services from Google.

What apps use GMS?

What are Google Mobile Services Apps

GMS includes the following apps and services

  • Gmail
  • Google Maps
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Play Store
  • Google Search
  • YouTube
  • Google Drive
  • Google Chrome
  • Google Photos
  • Google Duo
  • Google Assistant
  • Google Video

GMS certification is required for the Google Play Services APIs, including APIs for: Google Maps. Google Pay.

How to check if Google Mobile Services is enabled on device or not?

You can simply check for the Google Play services on your Android to verify if Google Mobile Services is enabled on your device or not. The presence of active Play services is the signal that the GMS is enabled on your Android.

Can you use Android without Google services?

Yes, you can use Android without GMS as it’s a perfect functional operating system. Also, you can use most of the features and do most of the things you’d expect it to do without Google Mobile Services.

Countries like China are officially banned from using the GMS core and there are Android phones in China as we all know.

So what’s the experience like without GMS? Well, it’s not very convenient if you’re used to Google’s ecosystem. On Amazon devices, you’re stuck with the apps available on the Amazon App Store.

Sideloading is an option, but third-party apps might not work properly or outright refuse to open in some cases. This is often because apps heavily rely on the device’s GMS backbone.

Can you install Google services by yourself?

Android devices usually come pre-installed with GMS directly from the manufacturer. However, there are some instances where this does not hold true.

If you own a Kindle Fire HD tablet, for example, you might want to install Google mobile services. Doing so allows you to gain access to the Play Store and other Google apps.

Unfortunately, there’s no universal answer to this question. The installation process for GMS varies in complexity because of the simple fact that each manufacturer’s software is different.

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Author

  • I am George, the mind behind Fixyourandroid.com. My mission with this platform is to offer clear, practical insights into smart devices, VR, and Android technology.

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