Everything you need to know about Google Mobile Services, AOSP, and Google Play Store app alternatives

The most popular operating system in the world is splitting into factions. There’s the open-source foundation that built the Android Empire and Google’s growing chunk of closed-source Google Mobile Services (GMS) applications that are out of reach for many Android manufacturers.

Samsung has built alternatives to essential applications like its app store and mapping services. And the Android community has worked on maintaining the robust Android community that exploded from its open-source roots with a host of alternative open-source applications.

Here’s what you need to know about Google Mobile Services and the Android Open Source Project (AOSP):

What is Google Mobile Services?

Google Mobile Services, sometimes called GMS, is a licensed pre-installed package of applications from Google that comes on authorized Android devices.

The suite of GMS applications installed on an Android device ranges from manufacturer to manufacturer; however, core Google Mobile Services applications include Google Chrome, YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, and the Google Play Store. These applications are close-sourced and only available to Google-licensed Android devices.

Google created strict requirements that manufacturers must meet to receive a Google Mobile Services license. These requirements create quantity-based barriers for small manufacturers and make it difficult to utilize non-Google Mobile Services authorized versions of Android. This limits manufacturers’ ability to customize devices and stay within the standards set by Google.

What is AOSP?

The Android Open Source Project, sometimes called AOSP, is the freely available source code needed to create a variant of the Android operating system, which is the most popular mobile operating system in the world. It is the foundation of every Android operating system today.

Google developed the source code and made it available online – releasing Android to the world in 2008. The Android operating system is open-source, which means it is free to download and change. This decision allowed Android to proliferate and become the world’s dominant mobile operating system.

AOSP source code provides the basic and essential components of any modern mobile operating system. Mobile device manufacturers – including Juniper Systems – build their unique operating systems using the tools and platforms available from the Android Open Source Project.

Is Google Mobile Services essential?

Many Android users don’t use a host of the Google Mobile Services applications – Google Chrome, Gmail, and Google Play Music are popular applications with popular alternatives.

However, the Google Play Store is the gateway to more than 2 million applications and Google Play Services provides Google’s high-accuracy location services, which is the GPS data that provides mapping data to applications from the Google Play Store.

That means non-Google Mobile Services devices can’t download applications from the Google Play Store and miss mapping services from Google.

However, many applications that aren’t available in the Google Play Store are available elsewhere. Users can download applications directly from the developer and receive major updates and changes without the developer pushing them through the Google Play Store and robust online application stores like APKPure compete with Google Play Store with a huge catelog of applications.

In addition, non-Google Mobile Services devices often cut back on bloatware, a name for big, unwanted software programs sometimes included on devices by manufacturers.

How to install third-party apps on an Android device

It’s easy to install third-party applications on an Android device; however, users should only install trusted applications from reputable developers to mitigate security risks.

First, users need to turn off the feature that blocks third-party applications.

How to enable third-party apps on Android

  1. In Settings, select Security
  2. Select the slider under Unknown Sources to Allow installation of apps from unkown sources – select OK

How to install an app on an Android device without Google Play

  1. Select the APK, or Android application package, file you want to download
  2. Once it has downloaded, go to Settings, open Storage, select Other, and Explore
  3. Select the APK file in the Download folder, a prompt should appear – select Install
  4. The app should begin installing and will appear in the applications menu

Alternatives to Google Mobile Services

There are alternatives to Google Mobile Services.

Open-source application stores and mapping services replace the Google Play Store and its Google Play Services location data. Everything else is personal preference. Spotify replaces Google Play Music. Waze replaces Google Maps. Firefox Browser replaces Google Chrome – and so on.

Juniper Systems put together a list of alternatives to Google Mobile Services applications:

Google Play Store

Google Chrome


Google Maps

Google Maps (developer alternatives)

Google Music

Google Photos

  • Built-in Gallery application

Google Drive

Google Calendar

  • Built-in Calendar application

Google Contacts

  • Built-in People application

The Android Mesa 2 Rugged Tablet and next-generation Allegro and Archer series devices from Juniper Systems will run Android AOSP. These industry-leading waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof rugged devices work on jobsites around the world.

For more information about Juniper Systems and its lineup of rugged mobile computers, handhelds, and GPS receivers, contact us here. Visit Juniper Systems online.

The Android robot is reproduced or modified from work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License.


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