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Huawei clarifies how to use Google on future smartphones

The Huawei Y7p will be the first smartphone in South Africa from the Chinese brand to come equipped with Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) instead of Google services and apps. Photo: Supplied

The Huawei Y7p will be the first smartphone in South Africa from the Chinese brand to come equipped with Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) instead of Google services and apps. Photo: Supplied

Published Feb 20, 2020


Cape Town - Amid the effects of the continual US-China trade wars, communication technology manufacturer Huawei has attempted to clarify how users can access Google services and apps on their mobile devices. 

The Chinese electronics giant held a press meeting in Green Point on Wednesday, in which they introduced their alternative to Google Mobile Services (GMS), named Huawei Mobile Services (HMS).

In May 2019, Huawei was blacklisted by the US government to refrain from doing business with their companies. A week later, Google announced that they would be abiding by the order, which would mean that Huawei phone users would not be able to access proprietary apps and services from Google. Since then, the relationship between the two companies remains unclear owing to the ongoing trade war between the US and China.

Chief Technology Officer for the Huawei Consumer Business Group Akram Mohamed said the services must not be mistaken to be a replacement for Android operating systems, which Huawei phones currently use.

“HMS is basically an underlying platform for the Android ecosystem, it is not the operating system,” he said.

Mohamed said the loss of GMS only meant that Huawei could not make use of developer kits that were in conjunction with the services that Google offers such Gmail and Maps. For example, Huawei phone users may not be able to use the Gmail app, but instead can access their Gmail inbox and emails by plugging the account into Huawei’s email app. Another example is YouTube. Users may not be able to use the official YouTube app, but they can still access content via the browser version or with a third-party host app.

The first Huawei smartphone to feature HMS will be the Y7p, which is expected to launch in the country in the coming weeks. Current phones in use, such as the P Series range, which have proved to be local best sellers, are still and will continue to run GMS.

Similar to Google’s Play Store and the Apple's App Store, Huawei uses an application repository called AppGallery, from which users can download their favourite apps.

The company said the AppGallery has over 1.2 million apps available. A total of 11 000 of those were identified as the most popular globally with 200 of that number identified as the most popular with South Africans.

“Those 11 000 applications, international applications should cover 10 or 20 applications that are used by all consumers globally for their needs,” explained Mohamed. “We have 95 percent of those applications and then over the longer term, we’ll look at the other five percent. An then we will also be looking at unique applications.”

For example, users will be able to download WhatsApp from the AppGallery and use it as per usual, with the only difference being that cloud backups for messages will not be uploaded to Google Drive. Instead, the messages will be backed up on the device itself, with Huawei working to offer alternative cloud services.

For Instagram, users would still be able to access the app via Facebook logins but not with a Google account login details. Other popular apps such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Outlook could still be downloaded via AppGallery as well.

Despite referring to 2019 as a crisis year, Huawei is confident that they will move from being the world’s second largest mobile device manufacturer to the first within the space of two to three years. In 2019, the company sold 240 million handsets globally.


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