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Google's Russian rival offers free alternative apps and services on Android

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Android is famed for being an open-source operating system. Well, kind of. Anyone can cruise and caress Android's code thanks to the AOSP, but if you want a package complete with Google's services -- like the Play store, Mail, Maps and better-than-basic apps for messaging, imaging, etc. -- then you have to pay the piper. Yandex is to Russia as Google is to most other places, in that it's the country's most popular search engine, has its own browser and provides email and cloud storage services, among others. And now, with the launch of Yandex.Kit, it also has an alternative to the bits of Android only a licence'll get you.

Available to those making devices for the Russian market, Yandex.Kit comprises 15 apps from browser, mapping, store and email clients to a launcher and dialer. (There's a slimmed-down version of the firmware for outside Russia, too). Most importantly, it's totally free, and has already attracted the likes of Huawei and local manufacturer Explay. Chinese firm Xiaomi forgoes Google's wares in its Android-based MIUI OS due to censorship issues. Here, however, Yandex is intentionally wedging itself between Android and Google to erode any reliance on the latter's ecosystem in Russia. The fact it allies you to Yandex instead being pure coincidence, of course.

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