Aiming to become the Google of Russia, Yandex has announced the release of Yandex.Kit, practically its version of Google mobile services. This kit packages up all of the apps and services that Yandex offers into one neat bundle that manufacturers can then slap on their Android devices that have not undergone Google’s certification process.
Android might be a free and open source operating system, but the final product that commonly lands in users’ hands is not just the pure Android platform found on the Android Open Source Project or AOSP. More often than not, expecially in the case of certified devices, the user experience is completed by a number of Google apps and services, like Google Play Store, Gmail, Maps, and more. These components, which comprise the so-called Google Mobile Services, are not included in AOSP, leaving smaller device manufacturers to scramble for sometimes less than par alternatives.
Now Yandex is offering an entire Android ecosystem that comes complete with almost everything that Google also offers. Bundled with the Yandex.Kit firmware are apps such as Yandex.Maps and Yandex.Mail, Yandex.Browser access to Yandex’s own search engine, and, of course, its very own Yandex.Store. It also has the fancy 3D Yandex.Shell homescreen launcher.
Probably one of the best things about Yandex.Kit is that it is being offered for free with no certifications required. Yandex is even allowing manufacturers to rebrand the components under their own names, though it recommends using what it believes to be a more recognizable Yandex brand. Huawei and Explay are expected to showcase smartphones bearing Yandex.Kit at MWC 2014 next week.