With the advent of Oreo and Marshmallow, 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.
If you’re a device manufacturer planning to enter the highly profitable Android market for the very first time, you will have to prepare for the hidden costs involved in building an Android device, while meeting the stringent approval requirements of Google. 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).
Figure 1: CGMS Apps (CREDIT: http://android.com)
However, the main elephant in the room is obtaining a license for the Google Mobile Service (GMS). This 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.
All smartphone users expect these basic apps 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.
Google provides tools and technical details of the Android platform for any OEM/Company that plans to build Android-based devices to ensure that the every new device that runs on Android will be compatible with the different applications.
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.
On the surface, applying for GMS license looks fairly easy – all you have to do is fill up this contact form and apply for a license before 30 days of your planned roll-out.
Here, you have to insert necessary information e.g. how many devices does your company plan to build and ship? The inquiry form may require further information like company name, website, Android device branding, device form factor, device distribution channel, quantity, device category, countries in which your company intends to sell 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 being told, you must brace yourself for at least 4 to 5 months of methodical planning to meet all the GMS requirements.
The best part is, Google itself does not provide you the GMS license. This activity has been authorized to a 3PL.
They do independent qa 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 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 tests procedures are included in 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 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 attached target device. The intent is to reveal incompatibilities during development itself, and to ensure that the software meets compatibility throughout the development process.
Figure 2: Android CTS – (CREDIT: https://source.android.com/compatibility/cts/index.html)
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.
For more information, visit Android Partner Front End (APFE). GTS are additional tests that are required for device for GMS licensing.
OEM needs APFE account to upload CTS reports to Google and complete the validation process.
All above tests are mandatory for GMS and guarantee that the product meets the high customer and business requirements but the GMS license is provided on sole discretion of Google company.
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 help resolve any run time technical query required to obtain GMS license for the product.
Are you interested in GMS licensing for your planned Android device, contact us.