Apps

Can you get most of your favorite apps on new Huawei smartphones?

Operative word being ‘most’

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The short answer is “yes.” But there’s certainly so much more that goes into it.

By now it’s no secret that there’s something missing from Huawei’s latest flagships that we’ve all been accustomed to using. Even so, your Mate 30 or P40 still has plenty of “smart” in that smartphone. That goes beyond what you’ll find on the AppGallery.

If you hang around a lot of tech pages or blogs, you’d know exactly what’s missing. People are quick to point that out whenever stories about Huawei’s new phones come up.

You would have also probably noticed all the sponsored articles on the matter. To be clear, this particular article isn’t. The rest of the team is working on those because we gotta keep the lights on. For today, this here is more of an honest, and hopefully helpful take on the matter.

Some of their communication strategy which involves highlighting the number of apps available and how it’s now the third largest App Store, I think, is a little misguided. But that’s a conversation for another day. For now, I’ll try to answer some questions that some friends and GadgetMatch followers have asked.

What can you find on AppGallery?

A lot, it turns out. When the Huawei Mate 30 series first came out, the app selection was looking a little lean. Fast forward to a few months later and the apps you’ve come to know and love are all starting to slowly be available.

In the Philippines you already have Viber, WeChat, Lazada, SnapChat and some pretty useful ones like GCash, PayMaya, SHAREit, and Canva among others.

In Singapore, transportation and ride-hailing apps like ComfortDelgro, TADA and RYDE have already made their way to the AppGallery.

You can also find links to your favorite apps that aren’t available for direct download on AppGallery. Say for example, WhatsApp. Here’s how you can get it.

Step 1: Search Whatsapp official link in the AppGallery.

Step 2: Click on the selection that says Official download link from Whatsapp to open the link.

Step 3: Once directed to the Whatsapp official website, click download now and installation will take place immediately.

What about apps that are NOT on AppGallery?

Fun fact: There’s a wishlist section on the AppGallery where you can let Huawei know what apps you desperately want to be available. Just make sure your App Gallery is updated so you can find it.

Huawei is pouring a lot of resources to make sure ALL the apps are available on the App Gallery. They’re not there yet. However, with the company being aggressive, the growth is promising.

If you really need to get your hands on certain apps there’s a workaround. There are third-party app stores that you can get to through the phone’s browser. Sites and apps like APKPure and APKMonk provide you access to apps that may not yet be present on the App Gallery.

Personally, I’ve opted to go the APKPure route. If you’re worried about updates, APKPure actually handles that for you. Since installing some apps, I’ve consistently gotten updates that cover both new features and additional security.

Is the AppGallery secure? 

In a previous article, Huawei confidently told us, “We do not touch data. That’s a policy from top-down.” They also pointed out how they have never been caught doing anything with users’ data — that’s something that can’t be said from the likes of Google or Facebook.

Huawei also sent us a presser on how secure the App Gallery is. It talked about a four-layer threat detection. It detects malicious in-app behaviour, including activities such as eavesdropping on users, monitoring users, and taking screenshots or screen recordings without authorization. You can find more details here.

In a lot of ways, it’s similar to Google’s Play Protect and the security layers on Apple’s App Store. It’s likely not perfect, but it’s there and it will detect and deter malicious software.

Now on the US government’s accusations of Huawei working in tandem with the Chinese government to spy on its users, the company has adamantly denied this. For its part, the US hasn’t been able to provide any substantial proof to back its claim. Remember, burden of proof lies on the accuser.

The Chinese government itself is a whole other socio-political issue altogether. Until a solid link is established, Huawei probably knows about you just as much what phone makers like Apple and Samsung do. Which I would argue is much less than the amount of personal data available to the likes of Facebook or Google.

Missing Google 

Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) is far from complete. It’s missing certain essentials — one in particular is a reliable maps app. You would still have to go to the browser and search for Google Maps for something that’s actually usable.

For many Google apps, that’s your workaround. Look for it from the browser and create a shortcut on your homescreen. If this is something you can live with, well and good. But it’s hardly an ideal setup.

I rely on several Google services that have no alternatives — a lot of which are actually present even on iPhones. Two in particular are Google Cast and Google Photos. Don’t get me started with Huawei Cloud. It just isn’t the same.

Cast is fine, I imagine not a lot of people will use it. But there’s no alternative to the features and convenience of Google Photos. Unlimited photo backup with access to nearly every other device. That, to me, is irreplaceable.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place

As a regular user, I honestly am not sure what the right move here is. I would love to see HMS take-off. If they can find a way to have their services perform in a manner similar or close to what we get from GMS, that’s great. However, I’m not even sure if that’s possible.

If you’ve seen our Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro video, the retail box comes with a tagline saying “with easy access to the Google apps you use most.” Our sources say this won’t be unique to Xiaomi. We should expect new Android phones to have this tagline on retail boxes as well.

That’s a clear flex from the US Government, striking some sort of agreement with Google to have Android phone makers include this tagline. Huawei is unfairly put in a disadvantageous position. Their only fault? Being a company from China.

Huawei needs to continue selling phones so they can keep pouring resources into building up HMS. If you’re going to listen to “global” (Western, really) reviewers alone, they will tell you that they “can’t recommend” at least the Mate 30 and the P40 series because of what’s missing. That’s not entirely wrong.

However, if you’re the type who can live with some of the compromises for now, by all means, get the new Huawei flagships. Help them get HMS up to speed. Because at the rate things are going, Huawei being able to stand on its own is more likely to happen than the US letting Google work with them.

You can put GMS on the new Huawei phones. It can be quite cumbersome and isn’t a method I personally recommend, so I’m not going to tell you how. If you want to find out for yourself, you can always Google it.

Apps

Next Android update is Android 12.1, not Android 13, rumor says

Just a minor update

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One of the highlights of the year is a new Android update. Like clockwork, Google updates the biggest mobile operating system in the world. It’s gotten so popular that the entire industry speculates on the codename each update is attached with even if the company stopped doing them years ago. The hype is there. However, Android users might have to taper their expectations next year. Instead of Android 13, Google might launch Android 12.1 next year.

Reported by XDA Developers, the rumor speculates that next year’s Android update will just be a minor one of the upcoming Android 12 this year. According to one of the publication’s recognized developers, Google attached an “sc-v2” tag for the next Android update, instead of “T” for “Tiramisu,” the internal codename for Android 13. For those who still follow the internal codenames for Android, “sc” refers to Snow Cone, the internal codename for Android 12. As such, it’s natural to assume that the next update is just Android 12.1, rather than Android 13.

It’s been a while since Google released minor updates in lieu of major updates. However, it’s no surprise. Android 12 is already a big update, relative to the past few updates. The update features a revamped design called Material You. Google can believably improve the new update more before launching a major one.

SEE ALSO: Android 12 is Snow Cone

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Apps

Google starts rolling out Material You apps

More coming this month

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There is no one more excited for Google’s upcoming products than Google itself. Though the company hasn’t officially launched its products yet, Google has persistently teased everything in the weeks and months leading to their debuts. Now, the company is slowly rolling out Material You apps ahead of the Android 12 launch.

Material You refers to Android’s design revamp for the upcoming Android 12 update. An evolution of Google’s smooth Material Design, the new design personalizes the user interface and the phone’s apps according to the user’s preferences. Android 12 is all about customization.

Of course, since the update also affects apps, Google is also rolling out apps that reflect the new design. Despite the lack of Android 12, the new apps are coming out ahead of time. Officially announced by Google’s Workspace blog, Google Drive will start the new push with its rollout starting today. After Drive, Google Meet will come out on September 19, and Google Calendar will launch on September 20. Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets have already rolled out a week ago.

The new apps will feature new navigation bars, floating action buttons, and a new font called Google Sans. The new font will make readability easier for smaller font sizes.

Android 12 is set to launch soon. Additionally, Google is already launching teasers for the upcoming Pixel 6 series featuring the new, in-house Tensor chipset.

SEE ALSO: Android 12 will make Chrome more colorful

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Spotify launches new recommendation feature, Enhance

Personalize per playlist

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Adding new songs to your Spotify playlist can be quite a monumental task. Trying to grab songs from a recommended playlist might not always mix and match well with a personal playlist’s mood. Spotify is improving recommendations with an all-new feature rolling out today: Spotify Enhance.

Launching in several countries all over the world, Enhance will automatically add songs which fits a playlist’s mood. Users who have the feature can toggle the feature on every playlist. The recommended song will then pop up in the playlist’s songs. Likewise, users can toggle the feature off to get rid of the recommended songs.

However, rather than dumping the recommendations at the start or at the end of a playlist, Spotify will sprinkle them after every two songs, providing a healthy balance between old and new songs. The feature will add only 30 songs at a time.

Additionally, these songs aren’t officially added to the playlist yet. If a user finds a song they like, they can link a plus icon beside the song. Added songs will be in the playlist permanently.

The feature will come only to Premium subscribers. Likewise, not every country will have the feature at first. Spotify hopes to roll out the feature for more countries in the coming weeks and months.

SEE ALSO: 3 eargasmic podcasts to listen to on Spotify’s Music+Talk

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