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

WhatsApp delays roll-out of new privacy policy until May

Signal and Telegram are trending instead

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Photo by Dimitri Karastelev on Unsplash

WhatsApp rolled out a new privacy policy that clearly specifies how the instant messaging app will leverage your data for monetization. But the new privacy policy is on hold.

WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, has announced that it will delay enforcing its new privacy terms from February 8 to May 15. In the blog post, the company says that none of its privacy-focused features are changing.

“We’re also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp. We’ll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15,” the statement said.

It faced massive backlash as users are worried about their personal data. When the privacy policy changes went public last week, the response from the public was downright brutal. Alternative apps like Telegram and Signal started trending worldwide as users started joining it in hopes of ditching WhatsApp.

Even though WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, Facebook will still fetch some crucial information like your transactions, location, and other behavioral data from linked Instagram profile. And, we all know Facebook has a nasty reputation as far as personal data management is concerned. What makes it even more outrageous is that the policy is leave or take, and there’s no third option.

In the wording used, WhatsApp says the new privacy policy will change how it partners with Facebook to “offer integrations” and that businesses can use Facebook services to manage WhatsApp chats. It said that hat all private messages between friends and family members will remain end-to-end encrypted.

According to a CNBC report, India’s technology ministry also asked WhatsApp to withdraw planned changes to its privacy policy that has drawn widespread backlash.

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Apps

Ultrahuman is an all-in-one fitness app

Workout, meditate and sleep soundly

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Staying physically and mentally fit is extra challenging during a pandemic, but it’s become essential now more than ever. Ultrahuman is a fitness app launched that offers a very convenient platform that targets the three main health points: physical exercise, meditation and sleep. It helps you stay fit from the moment you wake up until you go to bed!

This newest app, which debuted on CES 2021, features different content per category. It includes home workouts and yoga programs from world-class athletes and professional trainers to focus on your physical strength. You can choose from various workouts — from running and yoga to weightlifting and HIIT. The app is designed for all fitness levels.

With the app’s biofeedback technology, you can also track your heart rate and calories burned in real-time.

There’s also content focusing on mindfulness, including guided meditations, bedtime stories, calming meditation music, nature and sleep sounds, breathing exercises, among others. Manage stress and anxiety better by improving your mental health and sleeping patterns with the help of this series.

You can also listen to “brain music”, a section where you can find songs curated by “neuro-musicians” that aids focus, sleep and productivity.

Ultrahuman also partnered with UCLA, Mindsize, and Unified Mindfulness to bring the best of mind science and technology together.

The app is available on iOS and Android, and is already rolled out across 50+ countries globally. It’s been recognized by Apple as one of the top apps they love. Apple Watch users can also integrate their app to track their health progress real-time.

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Apps

Prepare your meals through your phone, fridge using Samsung SmartThings

The kitchen, simplified

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With everything going on in the world, it’s no surprise that people are spending more time in the kitchen and looking out for new recipes.

The good news? Samsung has just the thing to get it sorted quickly and easily. They’re bringing in Family Hub features into mobile users through the SmartThings app.

Samsung’s SmartThings Cooking service helps bring all of your Samsung kitchen appliances together. How? It lets you search, plan, purchase, and meal prep seamlessly through your phone or fridge through the SmartThings app.

On top of that, it recommends customized recipes based on your taste and preferences while considering ingredients available to you. You can scroll through recipe collections when you’re undecided or quickly zero-in on meals that suit your cravings.

SmartThings Cooking, powered by Whisk, is accessible through Samsung’s SmartThings. If you’ve got the Family Hub in your smart kitchen arsenal, there’s no need to fret.

The fridge keeps tabs of what you have and don’t, adding missing ingredients directly to your online grocery cart for at-home deliveries. Not to mention, you can shop through Walmart, Kroger, Instacart, and Amazon Fresh, using the Whisk network.

With SmartThings added to the Family Hub smart fridge, you get to enjoy all the cool features and more! You get to access your other smart kitchen gadgets through widgets on the screen, prioritize most used apps, and feature family photos, notes, and recipes.

And, if cooking is what you’re worried about, Samsung has you covered for even that. SmartThings guides you through easy cooking steps and lets you control cooking modes, temperatures, and time settings with one touch. Leaving you with little room for error.

So, with all that in mind, was it really a surprise to see Samsung’s Family Hub win its sixth consecutive CES Innovation Award this year? For us, not quite.

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