Google isn’t forcing manufacturers to label packaging with ‘easy access’ to apps

Xiaomi claimed it added a "With easy access to the Google apps you use most" to its packaging because Google required it

Over the last day or so, there’s been a bit of uproar over the new Xiaomi Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro boxes.

Specifically, the new phones feature branding on the packaging that says: “With easy access to the Google apps you use most.”

The phrase seems like a dig at fellow Chinese phone maker Huawei, which was using technology from firms in the U.S. On some of Huawei’s recent phones, that means it’s missing the Google Play Store and all of Google’s apps. Considering Xiaomi is also based in China, the branding comes off as a way for it to differentiate itself from Huawei and remind customers which phones have — and don’t have — Google apps.

Naturally, that sparked some ire with Huawei fans and resulted in Xiaomi clarifying the branding in a statement posted to Chinese microblogging site Weibo. In the statement, Xiaomi said Google required the new branding.

For those unfamiliar with the inner workings of Android, Google makes the operating system and also several of the apps and services that run on it, such as the Play Store. However, Android is open-source software and anyone can use it thanks to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Google’s apps aren’t part of AOSP and are instead licensed to manufacturers as part of Google Mobile Services (GMS). GMS includes apps like Google Search, Chrome, Gmail and the Play Store.

Google has a variety of stipulations that manufacturers using GMS have to agree to. For example, Google requires Android smartphones and tablets to show a ‘Powered by Android’ logo on the boot screen.

This change may not actually be required

While Xiaomi doesn’t officially sell phones in Canada, changes to GMS could impact manufacturers that do. However, the new ‘With easy access…’ branding may not be required.

Despite Xiaomi’s claim, sources familiar with Google’s GMS agreement told Android Authority that the branding is only suggested. Specifically, if manufacturers choose to add more Google apps to their phones beyond those required by GMS, Google suggests they add the ‘With easy access…’ branding to their packaging. For example, Gmail is part of the GMS suite but adding Google Keep isn’t. Google suggests manufacturers that add these additional Google apps add the branding too.

That also explains why other manufacturers haven’t added similar branding to their packaging.

Further, that stands in contrast with Xiaomi’s original statement. It’s possible that the meaning was misinterpreted when translated to English, but a new statement from the company to Android Authority makes a little more sense:

“This line on our Mi 10 series packaging box is consistent with Google’s long-standing branding guidelines, intended to help ensure consumers are properly informed of the software on the device.”

It lines up more with the GMS requirements as we understand them. That said, it could be considered fishy that Xiaomi said one thing and then said something completely different.

Regardless of the Xiaomi situation, I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see more devices with the new branding, especially from China-based manufacturers. With Huawei still selling phones, the branding is an easy way to differentiate competitors while reminding customers who has access to Google apps.

Image credit: Xiaomi

Source: Android Authority