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Google’s ambitious new project has Android users asking, “Wait…what?”

Android geeks have much to be excited about in 2016.

Their smartphones are getting smarter — features like fingerprint scanners, wireless charging, and tap-to-pay are becoming commonplace.

These once-pricey perks are getting more affordable, too, as unlocked devices from low-cost manufacturers give consumers an alternative to expensive, subsidized carrier contracts.

And now Android is about to get a whole lot safer, thanks to the new Google Mobile Services certifications.

What are “Google Mobile Services”?

According to Wikipedia, Google Mobile Services are “the applications and services provided by Google in order to enhance the user’s mobile experience.”

These include:

  • Gmail
  • Chrome
  • Google+
  • Google Maps
  • YouTube
  • Google Docs
  • Google Translate
  • Waze

You’re probably familiar with the names on that list — they often come pre-installed on your Android device.

Google Mobile Services have become incredibly popular over the past few years. With over 1.4 billion Android users in 2015, demand is skyrocketing.

And manufacturers are taking note.

Though precise figures are notoriously hard to come by, a recent survey by OpenSignal found that more than 24,000 Android devices were produced by nearly 1,300 companies in 2015.

In such a big barrel, a few bad apples are inevitable.

This means that Google (and, by extension, Android) faces a serious challenge — how do you ensure security while maintaining the open-source spirit so beloved by the Android community?

Well, with a fancy new certification, of course!

Why does my phone need a “Google Mobile Services certification”?

According to Google, “The [Google Mobile Services] approval process helps ensure device quality and disallows preloaded apps that harm users, provide insufficient disclosure, or violate user privacy.”

So basically, a Google Mobile Services certification tells you three things:

  • Your phone is well-built.
  • Your phone has no malicious bloatware.
  • Your phone won’t spy on you.

What if my phone isn’t Google Mobile Services-certified?

The good news: your phone can still run Android.

The bad news: it might not run very well.

According to Google, devices that aren’t certified “cannot preload any [Google Mobile Services] apps, including Google Play”.

Non-certified devices may also be ineligible for over-the-air (OTA) software updates. If you thought waiting for Marshmallow was bad, just imagine if you were still stuck on Froyo.

Forever.

And then there’s the matter of…

Android Security Patches

Monthly security patches aren’t the sexiest feature of Google Mobile Services certification, but they might be the most important.

In the wake of catastrophic bugs like Stagefright, Google has stepped up its efforts to make the Android operating system more secure. Holding manufacturers to higher standards has become an integral part of the process. Some have complied, while others have proved more stubborn.

Google now aims to force their hand by withholding Android Security Patches from non-certified devices.

So, if you’re concerned about your online privacy and safety, you’ll probably want a Google Mobile Services-certified device.

Finding a Google Mobile Services-certified smartphone

For a full list of Google Mobile Services-certified devices, check here.

Or, check out some of the nifty Google Mobile Services-certified phones from NUU Mobile, like our stunning metal-body X4 for $169 or the new N4L for just $99.