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Google Eyes Apple-Like Certification Program for Smartphone Accessories

Google, which is poised to debut its latest Pixel phone later this week, may also unveil a certification program for partners that make accessories for Google products.

Such a program will probably resemble Apple’s “Made for i” (or MFi) certification, according to tech news site, 9to5Google, citing unnamed sources.

Major tech companies create product certifications as a seal of approval for third-party companies that manufacture add-ons like smart phone chargers, charging cables, and earbuds. Google (GOOGL) could also use such a program to list “approved” add-ons for augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) gear or cameras.

Hardware, is clearly growing in importance for Google (GOOG) following its recent decision to acquire HTC’s phone business for $1.1 billion.

Finding the right add-ons for Android devices has become a big enough issue that Benson Leung, a Google staff engineer, has compiled his own “Benson-approved” list” of cables and other gear.

Google could also use the program to make sure that new products work well with Google Assistant voice services.

Related: Google Pushes Corporate Perks in Chromebooks

Analyst Nick McQuire of London-based research firm CCS Insight, says a “Made for Google” program would illustrate Google’s “rising ambitions in hardware following the HTC buy.”

If Google wants to take on iPhone with its Pixel devices, accessories will become more important, he said. Would-be buyers want a selection of accessories that work well with their smart phones and a “Made for Google” label could reassure them.

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The expected Oct. 4 debut of the Google Pixel 2 smart phone comes just weeks after Apple’s iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus launch extravaganza. Google could not be reached for comment on this story.