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

Twitter adds draft, schedule tweets on the web

Sending tweets just got more flexible

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Photo by Yucel Moran on Unsplash

Sending tweets just got more flexible. Twitter is now adding an option for users to draft a tweet which they can continue later. Plus, there is now an option to schedule when a tweet should be posted.

Users don’t have to do anything to take advantage of these new features. Twitter has enabled these features just recently to everyone after experimenting with them in November.

For users who want to draft a tweet, they simply have to click “X” on the tweet window. A prompt to save the tweet will appear. Clicking “Save” will send the tweet to the “Unsent Tweet” where users can see a list of their drafted tweets.

It is important to note that drafted tweets will sync only on the web version of Twitter. There’s no option yet to see web version drafted tweets on the mobile app.

Meanwhile, those who wanted to schedule their tweets can do so by clicking on the new calendar icon on the bottom left of the tweet window. By doing so, a schedule option will appear, and users can change the date and time of the tweet’s post schedule.

Twitter Support prepared a little video for those who prefer to watch these new features in action:

These new features are surely a welcome addition to the platform. Perhaps, users who wanted to clarify their thoughts first before tweeting should greatly benefit from this feature. Now, if only Twitter would give its users an option to edit tweets. It’s still a pipe dream, but with new changes being introduced to the platform, it’s not impossible.

Source: The Verge

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Apps

Microsoft adds new spellcheck system for Chrome on Windows

Embracing an open-source ecosystem

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There’s no error in the headline, Microsoft is indeed helping Google’s Chrome browser work better thanks to a new spellcheck system. This move will not just help Chrome though, it’ll also enable Edge browser with improved spellcheck. Getting too confusing? Here’s a simple explanation.

The Chromium project is a free and open-source repository, just like Android. Anyone can use it, edit it, or build upon it. Google’s Chrome browser is based on this project, and so is Microsoft’s Edge. Other browsers utilizing this backend technology are Torch, Brave, Amazon Silk, and many more.

How is Microsoft helping Google? It’s bringing a new spell checker on Windows 8.1 and newer for all Chromium browsers.  Until now, Chromium browsers were leveraging open-source proofing tools for spell checking. By collaborating directly with Google’s Chromium engineers, Microsoft has enabled Windows Spellcheck for all Chromium browsers.

The new Windows Spellcheck will support URLs, acronyms, email addresses, additional languages along with various dialects, and a shared custom dictionary. The new system replaces Microsoft’s Hunspell Spellcheck tool.

The update is among more than 1,900 such changes Microsoft has contributed to the browser’s project. The new spell checker is live on Edge with version 83.

While this announcement may not seem to be very exciting, it underlines an essential change in Microsoft’s strategy. The software company has a notorious reputation of being against open-source. However, it has radically changed its position in the last handful of years. After the fall of Windows Mobile, it was a clear lesson that the future is about embracing an open eco-system instead of a partial one.

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Apps

IGTV will soon have ads and share revenue with creators

Can it take on YouTube?

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There’s some good news as well as bad news. How you perceive it, depends on your role. If you’re a content creator on IGTV, Instagram will share ad revenues with you. And, if you’re an IGTV viewer, the bad news is you’ll have to watch that ad, just like YouTube.

Facebook-owned Instagram has announced it’ll start serving IGTV with ads and share the revenue with influencers who create content for the platform. Instagram already has ads embedded while scrolling posts or sifting through stories. We expected the roll-out to happen in the near future considering Facebook’s reputation with ads and hunger for user data.

Instagram will share at least 55 percent of the revenue from these ads with creators. This should encourage users to upload more content on the platform and the strategy is a proven one today. Google’s YouTube has created a thriving community of YouTubers who’ve become a millionaire thanks to their regular content push and subscriber base.

It’s testing IGTV ads with a handful of U.S. based creators and advertisers and plans to expand that slowly in the coming months. Furthermore, creators can also charge for virtual badges that shall be visible during Instagram Live.

Currently, the most sought monetization method for influencers is to directly cut deals with brands. But this removes Instagram from the equation completely. Instead, it has already rolled out features like Shopping, and Live Shopping to keep the user within the app and complete the transaction.

IGTV was launched in June 2018 as a spinoff of Instagram where users can watch longer videos made for mobile devices. Viewers access IGTV videos directly through Instagram or the stand-alone IGTV app.

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