Yandex.Kit gives Android vendors a free substitute for Google apps and services
While Android itself is a free, open-source operating system that can be used by any company and individual commercially, the Google apps and services we see bundled on popular devices do not share the same philosophy. Handsets have to be approved by the search giant in order to use the bread and butter of the Android world, which, among other things, includes access to the coveted Play store, and the Gmail and YouTube apps.
Because Google apps and services are not part of Android, we see lots of devices that are sold across the globe without them. Those come from lesser-known vendors, and may be available in anywhere from supermarkets to retail stores in emerging markets. To give those vendors a fighting chance against more popular rivals and increase its reach, Russian tech giant Yandex has announced Yandex.Kit, an Android suite that offers the company's own apps and services as a viable substitute for Google's own offerings on the platform.
Yandex is not new to the Android world as the company has already developed a number of solutions for the OS, including Yandex.Maps, Yandex.Mail, Yandex.Disk, Yandex.Store, Yandex.Shell and Yandex.Browser (the names are self-explanatory). Combined, they are what Yandex calls "a full-fledged Android 'ecosystem'".
Yandex.Kit is meant to be used "fee-free", and customized by Android vendors to their liking. The companies that wish to bundle it in Russia can use the full-fledged suite, which has 15 apps, while those that target other international markets only get Yandex.Shell UI, Yandex.Browser and Yandex.Store. In case you were wondering, the app store has over 100,000 offerings on tap.
Yandex is also giving Android vendors that choose to employ its suite the option to use the Yandex branding on their handsets, filling the gap left by the lack of a Google branding. Basically, Yandex is fighting the search giant on the latter's domain (Android). This option will be available in Russia, in order "to piggyback on the existing customer affinity for one of the most recognizable and strong brands in this country".
Judging by the information provided for Yandex.Kit (check the link in the second paragraph for the whole rundown on each component), the suite can successfully substitute Google's apps and services, as it mimics the latter's behavior and benefits.
Explay and Huawei will be the first Android vendors to showcase their devices with Yandex.Kit, at Mobile World Congress which is held in Barcelona later this month, according to Yandex. The handsets are set to reach the Russian market in March.