If you are a manufacturer planning for android based devices be it a smartphone, tablet, TV, wearables, automotive or enterprise, you also must plan for the hidden cost of getting a GMS certification.
GMS stands for Google Mobile Services and refers to a pre-selected array of Google applications which pack the very essence of Google itself in its configuration – Google Search, YouTube, Gmail, Chrome, Google Plus, Google Hangouts and much more.
Without GMS certification, a device won’t be able to run any of Google proprietary applications. Apart from that, all users expect these basic applications to be available out-of-the-box (OOTB) with smooth functionality, and no crashes or failures. So, getting a GMS certification is essential in rolling out your own Android device. Here to test for application crashes and failures, the device must pass the test from the compatibility test suit (CTS). CTS is a very integral part of GMS certification process.
Android is an open-source operating system by Google for mobile devices and initially introduced for smartphones. Due to its popularity and user adoption, Android has now extended its support for other smart devices space like wearables, automotive and enterprise.
Beyond smartphones and tablets, Android is powering various devices across industry verticals. This also helps in seamlessly connecting to various devices.
Google’s Android continues to dominate the mobile OS market. Market experts predict that Android’s popularity is unlikely to slow down anytime soon. So, it isn’t hard to see why hundreds of device manufacturers globally are drawn to Android’s highly scalable eco-system, to earn their own revenue share of the lucrative pie.
One of the reasons behind its popularity is regular updates, periodic OS optimization, and developer support from Google.
GMS refers to Google’s proprietary applications which are not part of the Android Open Source Project. The devices must follow several compatibility tests and processes designed by Google to get a license for the Android device.
If you’re a device manufacturer planning to enter the highly profitable Android market for the very first time, you must meet the stringent approval requirements from Google. GMS certification is mandatory for every new android device you are planning to market.
This means meeting an ever-growing list of device-centric requirements, and continuously validating how your device measures up against Google’s Compatibility Test Suite (CTS).
Google provides tools and technical details of the Android platform for any OEM/Company that plans to build Android-based devices to ensure that every new device that runs on Android will be compatible with the different applications.
Although, before processing for GMS certification, you must acquire a GMS license, as it is a first-hand requirement for obtaining GMS certification.
GMS License (also identified as MADA) is permission acquired from Google to use their application suite in your device. It is consent from Google to use their branded application. GMS License is a non-transferable and nonexclusive license and comes with specified requirements from Google.
On the other hand, GMS certification is the confirmation received about device meeting Google’s performance requirements and all google applications are running properly.
Applying for GMS license seems fairly easy – all you have to do is fill up this contact form from Android’s website and apply for a license in advance as per your planned roll-out.
The form mentioned above asks for information that you need to provide to acquire a GMS license.
You need to provide details such as device form factor (phone, wearable, TV, etc.), brand and company information, previous experience with android devices, number of devices expected to be built, countries and channel of selling the device, Android OS version of the device etc.
After receiving all such information, Google will analyze your request, your company, and its products. If Google decides that application submitter OEM/Company/Distributer is qualified enough to be granted a GMS license, they will contact you further. It may take a long time before Google responds.
Upon successful review of the application by Google, its MADA (Mobile Application Distribution Agreement) will be sent to the OEM/company to complete the terms of the certification, and the GMS licensing process begins from here.
There are no easy answers now onwards. Some believe Google will not take you seriously if you don’t want to manufacture at least a million devices (or have them outsourced, if that’s how you wish to be price-competitive.).
A few others believe that getting a GMS license is a piece of cake if you already have a respectable business size and reputation in your geography.
Truth be told, you must brace yourself for at least 4 to 5 months of methodical planning to meet all the GMS requirements.
Google by itself does not issue the GMS license. This activity has been authorized to 3PL.
3PL is a company that is designated by Google to provide testing services for Google mobile services application. Also, your company need to have a separate signed agreement to receive such services
They do independent testing on behalf of Google, across a vast array of features and performance requirements.
They make sure that the device and the OEM respect the compatibility policy (see the Android Compatibility Definition Document), perform a series of tests (including the Android Compatibility Test Suite) and validate the Android-based product and check the compatibility for GMS licensing.
The GMS certification process consists of a set of predefined tests designed by Google to make sure that your Android-compatible device is ready for deployment with Google Apps contained in it.
The device type can be a handheld device, Android TV, wearables, or automotive. Each device type has specific hardware and software prerequisites that typically include input types (Touch, D-Pad), input device (Microphone), sensors, Connectivity (Wi-Fi, BT, BLE, GSM/LTE), Output (Speaker, Audio out ports).
Following test procedures are mandatory in the GMS certification process:
The Compatibility Test Suite (CTS) is a commercial-grade test suite provided by Google for free. The CTS represents the “mechanism” of compatibility.
The CTS test suite contains a large number of test cases (90,000+) that validate the device’s software and hardware components. The test suit can be downloaded from this link.
The CTS tests run on a desktop machine (Host) and execute the test cases directly on the attached target device. The intent is to reveal incompatibilities during development itself and to ensure that the software meets compatibility throughout the development process.
The Android Compatibility Test Suite Verifier (CTS Verifier) is an add-on to the Compatibility Test Suite (CTS). Its purpose is to check the APIs and functions that can be automated, providing tests for the APIs and functions that can’t be tested on a device without manual user input, e.g. Camera, Audio (Mic and Speaker), touchscreen, Sensors, Camera, etc.
CTS Verifier eventually confirms that the device is now compatible with a large number of Android applications.
GTS stands for Google Mobile Services Test Suite. Unlike CTS, GTS test suite can be obtained from Google once the OEM has partnered with Google through GMS licensing process and not available for public download.
GTS ensure that application from Google suite is compatible with the device being tested. During GTS tests, suite play multimedia files from Google sources and examine resolutions and bitrates.
For more information, visit Android Partner Front End (APFE). GTS are additional tests that are required for a device for GMS licensing.
OEM needs APFE account to upload CTS reports to Google and complete the validation process.
The Vendor Test Suite (VTS) automates operating system kernel testing. It provides a new set of functionalities for Android testing and helps to promote a test-driven development process.
The Vendor Test Suite provides a test framework and dashboard. Test framework provides details on how to test devices and includes, shell commands, test templates, multi-device testing, HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) testability check, and Service name aware HAL testing.
VTS Dashboard is a web-based interface viewing test results on setup, database, and user interface.
VTS suite is not available for public download as well.
All the above tests are mandatory for GMS and guarantee that the product meets high level customer and business requirements but the GMS license is provided on the sole discretion of Google.
eInfochips helps their device manufacturing customers to acquire a GMS license if requested by the customer.
Based on the area of application of the device, eInfochips can identify required tests and compatibility for GMS licensing. To expedite the licensing process, eInfochips can verify the CTS and CTS verifier test suit on the products and help in fixing any issue reported by CTS, before the product verification is executed by Google-authorized 3PL Company.
Once the customer obtains MADA from Google, eInfochips can also support in resolving any run time technical query required to obtain GMS license for the product.
Are you interested in obtaining GMS license for your planned Android device? Contact us.