Most modified versions of Android like TouchWiz or Sense do the same basic things, just with a few tweaks here and there. JIDE's Remix OS is a more complete transformation of Android aimed at making it more of a desktop OS. It's an interesting approach, but the company just took a major step back with its Remix Mini micro-computer by removing Google apps. Perhaps more troubling, they won't explain why.
Here's the statement posted by JIDE on its support site.
As part of this update to Remix OS on Remix Mini, Google applications (www.android.com/gms) will be removed from the device.
If you choose to skip the update, you will continue with your current Remix OS experience, which includes Google applications. However, you will not be able to receive any future updates or bug fixes OTA.
The reason this update removes Google applications, is to ensure a consistent experience across all Android devices for all apps. We are committed to bringing you the ultimate Android experience, and will continue to dedicate our resources to do this.
The Remix Mini is a small ARM-powered computer that plugs into a monitor and runs Remix OS. It sells for $90 with 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM. The Remix OS ROM for devices like the Nexus 9 ships without Google Play services, but that's to be expected. Google doesn't certify software, just devices with the software. The Mini originally shipped with Google Mobile Services. OEMs are supposed to pass their devices through the compatibility test suite (CTS) at Google to get authorization to ship Google services.
The claim that JIDE is removing GMS to "ensure a consistent experience" sounds like utter nonsense to me. It seems more likely that JIDE shipped with GMS expecting to get Google's okay, and that didn't happen. It does not bode well for the future of Remix OS on devices.
Owners of the Remix Mini who choose not to update will get to keep their Google apps, but they won't get future updates. There are ways to sideload Google services after the update, but you really shouldn't need to do that.
JIDE has confirmed that Google is responsible for the removal of Google apps. Traditional tablet devices that ship with Remix OS can still have GMS, but there were issues with the Mini's implementation. Google asked the company to remove GMS until those issues were addressed.
- Carlos Parga