Google Mobile Services (GMS) forms the backbone of modern-day Android and powers everything from push notifications to malware protection.
What are Google Mobile Services (GMS)?
The Android operating system that many of us use every day is known as open-source software, which means that its code is publicly available and can be modified endlessly by anyone. In fact, it runs pure open-source Android. You can thank Google Mobile Services (GMS) for this.
Simply put, the open-source component of Android is the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). GMS, on the other hand, lives on AOSP and offers many of the nice features you can expect from a modern Android.
The main difference between the two, however, is that GMS is not open source. Instead, Google selectively licenses it to device manufacturers or OEMs for free.
The vast majority of commercial Android devices sold today contain GMS in one form or another. There are a few exceptions, of course, but most of the time they are outliers. So what are Google mobile services and why do they contain so many Android devices?
What are Google or GMS mobile services?
GMS, which stands for Google Mobile Services, is essentially a suite of applications and APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that are installed at the system level, which essentially means that they are deeply integrated into the operating system. Think of APIs as shortcuts for app developers to access device-level features like streaming video to your TV over WiFi or communicating with Google’s high-precision location services.
The Android operating system alone already contains many APIs. Applications only need to call these APIs to, for example, turn on the flashlight, access the device’s cameras, or interact with the file system.
Google Mobile Services extends this core functionality with deep system integration for things like motion detection through integrated sensors, access to payment services like Google Pay and cloud storage through Play Games, among others. . The
GMS is also considered essential for another reason: it provides access to many applications that you likely use on a daily basis. These include the Play Store, Google Search (and Google Assistant), Google Maps, Gmail, Chrome and YouTube.
Even if you don’t use any of these apps, you can still benefit from GMS in a number of ways. When you first turned on your Android smartphone, you were likely signed in to your Google account. This process is entirely GMS dependent and allows for automatic syncing of your contacts, calendar and settings, including saved WiFi passwords from previous devices.
What are the advantages of GMS for Android users?
In addition to the benefits already mentioned, such as access to Google applications and services, GMS is also useful as it helps users get minor software updates and security patches. In addition, GMS contains some niche features that are not visible to end-users but are useful to application developers.
Take ML Kit, for example, which is one of Google’s mobile services. It offers a variety of on-device machine learning APIs ranging from barcode scanning to intelligent response suggestions that developers can leverage. An application can simply use the models provided by Google to reduce both development time and complexity.
A more useful feature is Fast Pair, which allows your phone to automatically detect nearby Bluetooth devices. Functions such as Find My Device, Smart Lock and Digital Wellbeing also depend on the availability of Google Mobile Services.
Some applications also depend on GMS to provide push notification functionality. The Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) service simplifies development for smaller applications and eliminates the need for individual applications for notification delivery.
GMS also helps Google to transfer software updates to your device quickly and regardless of the manufacturer. In the past, you had to wait for a full software update to get new features or security patches. This wouldn’t be a problem. Apart from the fact that most devices only receive updates in the first few years after launch.
As of 2019, Project Mainline has modularized the operating system and now enables Google to provide security and feature updates via the Play Store.