Whoa. Whoa. I just read a couple of Facebook posts from Jide Technology’s Remix OS that say that their latest update to the Remix Mini Android PCs will disable access to Google Mobile Services. What this means is that Google Play, and all Google’s own apps will no longer come installed by default on new Remix Minis, and they will be removed from old ones if their owners install the update.
This means that what I imagine to be most of the Remix Mini user base, muggles, are now stuck between a rock and a hard place: (learn/try to) side-load Google Play Services, or get stuck in update limbo forever, and lose access to bug fixes, performance improvements and other future updates. Well, it’s either those two, or they have to download apps from 3rd party (read: dodgy) app stores.
The Beijing-based company’s first Facebook post chalked it up to ensuring a consistent experience across all Android devices for all apps, which is as vague as they come, but they clarified the situation a few hours later. Apparently, the issue here is that fact that they cannot guarantee a consistent user experience yet, across all screen sizes (you know, since the Remix Mini PC works like a TV box).
Remember that pretty much the only concern I raised about the Remix Mini PC in my review, was the (in)consistency when you try to port mobile-first apps to the desktop paradigm. I reached out to Jide’s Emerging Markets Manager, Tawanda Mahere, and he said that Google noticed that some apps aren’t translating to the desktop paradigm as well as they should, and asked that they take a rain check on Google Mobile Services, until they can ensure a consistent user experience. Obviously, devices with traditional form factors like the tablets running Remix OS will not be negatively affected by this update.
“Google keeps a close eye on what we are doing,” Tawanda said, “we like to think we are leading the way for the Android PC experience, and they noticed there have been some instances where specific apps haven’t performed quite as they should. The reason being that the Remix Mini, and Remix OS, presents a new way to experience Android, across a variety of screen sizes, display types, and with keyboard and mouse input that the apps may not have originally been developed for”.
If you ask me, this is just one of the birth pangs anyone experiences when creating an entirely different product, like Jide Technology is doing. Tawanda says they are “working closely with Google and putting a good deal of our resources into reaching a point when we can pre-load GMS on Remix devices”, and so, my fingers are crossed.
For now, Tawanda’s told me that resellers will be able to side-load Google Play as a value-added service for the less tech savvy amongst us. If you’d like to get your hands dirty though, here’s a quick guide to side-loading GMS.
Go break something.