What Does GMS Mean?

March 28, 2024
David Sunnyside

GMS means Google Mobile Services, which refers to a suite of proprietary Android apps and APIs that embody core Google offerings like Play Store, Google Maps, YouTube, Gmail, and more. GMS is a vital component of the Android operating system, and many people assume that Android devices come with it pre-installed. However, that’s not always the case. In fact, even flagship devices from established manufacturers like Huawei and Xiaomi don’t ship with GMS by default.

That’s because GMS isn’t open source, and it’s not a requirement for most Android devices to run. What’s more, GMS can be difficult to install on devices with modified versions of the Android OS. These modified ROMs are typically created for use by businesses that want to customize their devices or create specialized variants for different markets. These ROMs are usually not compliant with the Google recommendations laid out in CDD, which makes it harder to integrate GMS into their products.

Regardless, most Android users should expect to have GMS installed on their devices, because it provides access to Google’s apps and ensures a consistent experience across all Android devices. This includes non-handheld Android form factors like smartwatches and TVs, as well as in-car infotainment systems. In addition to providing familiar apps, GMS also helps make sure that these devices can receive minor software updates and Android security patches from Google. It also enables developers to access niche features like on-device machine learning via ML Kit, which is a collection of on-device APIs that let apps do things like barcode scanning and smart reply suggestions.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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