What are Non-GMS Mobile Devices?

Exploring the Divide: GMS-Based vs. Non-GMS Mobile Devices for App Developers

Introduction: Mobile app development is a rapidly evolving field, and as developers, staying informed about the intricacies of the devices we build for is crucial. In this article, we delve into a topic that often goes unnoticed by consumers but significantly impacts our work: the difference between GMS-based and non-GMS mobile devices. We'll also explore the cybersecurity implications that developers should consider.

Section 1: Understanding GMS-Based Mobile Devices When we talk about GMS (Google Mobile Services), we're referring to a suite of Google services and applications that come pre-installed on Android devices. These services include Google Play Store, Gmail, Google Maps, and more. For app developers, GMS-based devices offer several advantages:

  • App Distribution: GMS devices come with Google Play Store, the primary app distribution platform for Android. This gives developers access to a vast user base.
  • Familiarity: Users are accustomed to GMS apps, making it easier to gain trust and user adoption.

From a cybersecurity perspective, GMS-based devices benefit from Google's security measures, including regular security updates and malware scanning on apps distributed through the Play Store.

Section 2: Non-GMS Mobile Devices: An Alternative Approach Non-GMS mobile devices, on the other hand, opt for an alternative and more open approach. Manufacturers of these devices don't include Google services and instead provide their own or third-party app stores and services. This approach is often driven by concerns about Google's control and privacy implications. From a developer's viewpoint, non-GMS devices bring some unique considerations:

  • App Ecosystem: Non-GMS devices have their own app ecosystems, which can be smaller and less familiar to users, but also can offer more flexibility and work globally in regions where GMS services are not available (e.g. China).
  • Privacy: Users who choose non-GMS devices may prioritize privacy and be wary of data collection by Google. Users may also find apps that are not available through the PlayStore.

Cybersecurity-wise, non-GMS devices may not benefit from Google's security measures and may have varying levels of security, however Approov's solutions work seamlessly across all devices including non-GMS devices, GMS devices and iOS devices.

Section 3: Key Differences Between GMS and Non-GMS Mobile Devices Let's dive deeper into the differences that app developers need to be aware of:

  • App Availability: GMS-based devices have access to the full range of apps on the Google Play Store, while non-GMS devices rely on third party app stores and/or side-loading of apps.
  • User Experience: Users of non-GMS devices may experience differences in app functionality and compatibility.
  • Privacy and Data Handling: Privacy-conscious users may lean towards non-GMS devices due to concerns about Google's extensive data collection practices.

From a cybersecurity perspective, app developers should consider the implications of developing for both ecosystems, including all potential security challenges on non-GMS devices.

Section 4: Considerations for App Developers As experienced mobile app developers, there are specific factors to consider:

  • Target Audience: Identify your target audience and their device preferences. Also realize that especially with regard to API security, you are only as strong as your weakest link. If your defenses are lower against non-GMS devices, than this can be the selected vulnerability for a data breach. 
  • App Compatibility: Ensure your app functions optimally on both GMS and non-GMS devices.
  • Cybersecurity: Implement robust security measures, especially for non-GMS devices that may lack Google's security infrastructure.

Section 5: The Future of GMS and Non-GMS Devices The mobile device landscape is continually evolving:

  • Regulatory Changes: Keep an eye on regulatory changes that may impact the availability and usage of GMS on Android devices.
  • Market Trends: Monitor market trends as users' preferences and concerns evolve.

Conclusion: In the world of mobile app development, understanding the differences between GMS-based and non-GMS mobile devices is essential. It affects app distribution, user experience, and cybersecurity considerations. As app developers, our goal is to create high-quality, secure apps that cater to diverse user preferences, and being informed about the nuances of GMS and non-GMS devices is a crucial part of that mission. Stay adaptable, stay secure, and keep building great apps for all.