Let’s analyze the possibilities offered by Huawei smartphones and tablets in this first period of AppGallery, together with ways to get around their limits.
The ban suffered by Huawei by the United States of America does not allow it to use Google services, from the Play Store to the Gmail application. The Chinese house has chosen two different ways, on the one hand today offers models such as the P40 Pro, with Huawei Mobile Service and AppGallery, the proprietary store from which to download applications. On the other hand it offers “enhanced” variants of last year’s models, with slightly improved hardware and full access to Google services.
This is certainly a difficult situation for the company, but in reality it could be the right opportunity to set up alternative services to Google, finally creating a third pole in the mobile world.
We know that Huawei is working on its proprietary operating system HarmonyOS, but completing a project of that calibre will take a long time and it is not yet clear whether the Chinese company intends to make the big leap within a few years.
For the moment, Huawei must rely on the open-source version of Android for its more advanced models. We, therefore, wrote this guide to facilitate the installation and search of applications on devices that do not have Google services, increasingly present in Italy.
Who are these devices for?
The weight of the absence of Google services varies according to the type of user. An unfamiliar person in the Android world may be in difficulty in some cases, who instead know better this operating system can more easily find alternatives for downloading apps.
For such a person, buying a product from the Chinese company today could be a good deal, given that the promotions that Huawei / Honor are launching to convince users are quite tempting. To give you a concrete example, Honor 9X Pro, a smartphone with good hardware, was sold to 199 euros at launch.
Furthermore, for an enthusiast, having to carry out an initial configuration using the various stores can also be interesting to learn about the possibilities offered by the world of technology and detach oneself from the Google ecosystem, while remaining on Android. In short, the advanced user could take home intriguing devices at a lower price than usual.
However, don’t get us wrong: if you are not the user we have described, nowadays the limitations due to the absence of Google services are and they could cause inconveniences, as we will see in more detail below.
What are HMS
Huawei devices that do not have Google services (also called GMS) have the HMS (Huawei Mobile Services). Essentially, the Chinese company has created a sort of “package” of applications designed to make up for the lack of classic YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps and so on. After logging in with your Huawei ID and completing the classic initial configuration, all the applications of the Chinese giant are pre-installed on the phone, from Huawei Mobile Cloud to Huawei Browser, passing through Huawei Video, Huawei Music and Huawei Themes.
Put simply, all types of use you need are covered, at least on paper, from entertainment to interface customization. Do not underestimate the presence of Huawei Health, the application that is used to manage the smartwatches and smart bands of the Huawei / Honor group. Moreover, one of the main novelties is Huawei AppGallery, which is the app store owned by the Chinese company.
Phone Clone is an application designed for transfer data from the “old” to the new device. However, don’t expect to be able to “transport” Google services this way: it’s obviously not allowed. For the rest, in addition to the various apps, you will be able to recover phone contacts, messages, call logs, music, videos, photos, calendar and documents.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to transfer the data of the various software. This means that, for example, WhatsApp chats must be recovered in another way. However, it is an application that is easy to use and very useful to save time, which allows you not to have to go and look for the classic apps around the various stores. By the way: no matter the brand of the “old” device, Phone Clone is compatible, for example, also with iPhone.
Three stores and a bonus app: AppGallery, Amazon AppStore, APK Pure and TrovApp
The “Phone Clone method” that we have illustrated above can be very interesting even for less experienced users but, sooner or later, it will be time to have to install some new app or to have to configure one manually. In this case, the main solutions available are three: AppGallery (Huawei’s official store), Amazon AppStore (the same one found, for example, on the Fire series tablets) and APK Pure (third-party digital store well known by “geeks” “). In addition to this software, it is useful to also download the Trov app application: developed by an Italian team, it is able to provide the user with the fastest way to find a specific application.
Typically, the suggestions vary between APKs downloadable from the official website, AppGallery, Amazon AppStore, APK Pure and web apps. In short, for an initial configuration done properly, we recommend you do this: open AppGallery, install TrovApp and answer yes to its pop-up that invites you to download APK Pure (which obviously must be installed via APK). After that, connect to the official Amazon website and download and install the APK related to the AppStore.
Now you have everything you need to be able to install most applications. One note: don’t always trust TrovApp. Despite being very useful, it has happened to us several times that the app did not recommend some software that were present on the Amazon AppStore. In short, a manual search never hurts.
Huawei AppGallery is the Chinese company’s proprietary store. In the main screen there are various highlighted apps, as well as sections relating to games, gifts (which are often in-game objects), promotions and the wish list. Further down, the apps and games most appreciated by users are shown. There is also a section on preview games and the possibility of being notified of the release of a certain title coming soon. There are also some collections, such as the one related to the best role-playing games.
As for the available tabs, there is a subdivision by categories, of the rankings of the most renowned apps, a section from which to manage updates and an account settings tab. Basic functionality is present and users can leave reviews related to various applications. If you are looking for a popular application that is missing on the AppGallery, the user is sent back to the official website. In short, Huawei has done a great job considering the short time that has passed since the ban. However, there are still several things to fix, as we will see later, but for the moment we will just analyze the various stores.
If in the past you have used a tablet from the Fire range, you know how much Amazon devices do not use the Google Play Store, but the Amazon AppStore. This is the shop owned by Jeff Bezos’ company, able to offer countless applications used daily. Fire tablets are very popular and there are several people who are comfortable with this type of experience, therefore the AppStore could be a godsend for those who decide to buy, for example, a device like MatePad Pro.
For those unfamiliar with this digital store, it is divided into categories and has a more extensive selection of games than the AppGallery. By the way, you can pay through your Amazon account and use Coins, a digital currency that allows you to save a little on the purchase of apps, games and in-app items. There is also the possibility of updating the apps. The AppStore has existed for several years and is certainly a more “mature” solution than the AppGallery. It too has its limitations, but it can be very useful to install it on Huawei devices without Google services since in its catalogue there are famous applications, downloadable with a simple tap.
If Huawei AppGallery and Amazon AppStore are official solutions and therefore “controlled”, the speech becomes more complex when you enter the field of Pure APK (third-party store recommended directly by TrovApp). In fact, we are talking about an installer collector. The team behind the project claims to carry out checks on every single application loaded on the store, but obviously the controls may not be at the level of the noblest solutions.
Generally, APK Pure is considered safe, since many applications are loaded by the same developers or taken directly from the Play Store and “redistributed”. However, it is a grey area that has been debating for a long time, since several developers do not allow the “redistribution” of the APK of their apps and, in some cases, there are modded versions that are not exactly pleasant.
In short, if you are a user who cares a lot about security, maybe better not to use Pure APK and, in general, we recommend that you use it only when you can’t find apps elsewhere.
If you decide to use it, always be careful and take a look at the reviews. In any case, APK Pure is used with satisfaction by many users, since it even contains a section with the latest news and a panel dedicated to the opinions of the community. In addition, usually, there is no shortage of the most popular apps and, therefore, leaving out the “unreachable” ones we will talk about later, from here you can recover much software. By the way, APK Pure is able to manage app updates.
The applications you need
Everyone has their own habits, so analyzing all the available applications is unthinkable. However, we have tried to find a lowest common denominator among all users. What a person usually does with a tablet or smartphone, in addition to calling and taking photos? Watch multimedia content, surf the web, manage e-mail, use instant messaging applications, take a ride on social networks, etc.
Usually, some of these activities are carried out through Google services: we think, for example, of e-mail (Gmail), web browsing (Chrome), videos (YouTube), calendar (Calendar), document management/saving on the cloud (Drive), the “navigator” functionality (Maps) and reading the news (News). In short, Google services are used by people to perform myriads of activities. It is, therefore, possible to do all this without the BigG apps? The answer is almost always yes, even if you have to roll up your sleeves.
Email, calendar and browser
HMS try to give the user a good basic configuration from the beginning, mainly thanks to the pre-installed browser, the Calendar app and the email client. These are three very useful applications, which immediately guarantee the use of some basic device functions. However, forget to import your activities saved on the Google calendar: you can add events directly from the device or import a Microsoft Exchange account. This isn’t actually a big deal: just simply change the method of adding activities.
We have, therefore “solved” the question of the calendar. As for the browser and the e-mail client, we preferred to focus on Opera (it can be found directly from the AppGallery, the Huawei browser sometimes fails to correctly perform some account synchronizations) and on Microsoft Outlook (yes download from the Amazon AppStore, it has a more enjoyable interface than the basic client). Alternatively, as far as the browser is concerned, if you want to “exit” from the official stores, you can download Firefox or Microsoft Edge from APK Pure. Chrome is also usable, as long as you don’t log in with your account.
Video streaming services
In the case of streaming services, there are several limitations. YouTube is only viewable via browser for example. It is enjoyable, but obviously it is not the same as the official app (it is not possible, for example, to zoom, so the contents do not cover the whole screen). The more experienced can rely on solutions like Newpipe, downloadable from the F-Droid repository.
Among the various features available are Picture-in-picture and Zoom. Forget the use of the Google account, but for a person who simply wants to watch videos, it could be a good solution (it was also recommended by XDA Developers).
Amazon Prime Video can be easily found through the Amazon AppStore, but unfortunately, Huawei devices without Google services do not have Widewine L1 DRMs, so playback cannot take place in HD. The case of Netflix is emblematic: to make it work properly you need to download a specific APK (an “old version”, 7.49.0 build 19 34761, which is only found in some installer aggregators). For now, it works but forgets the HD content here too.
As for Disney +, you can download it from Pure APK, but there are several problems and many users are not even able to start the videos. Interesting alternatives available on the AppGallery are VVVID and RaiPlay, in addition to Huawei Video.
Instant messaging applications and video calls
The situation improves when you enter the field of instant messaging. WhatsApp allows you to download its app directly from the official website, so there are no particular problems (if not backing up the chats, which we will discuss in detail later). Telegram can instead be downloaded directly from the AppGallery, while Facebook Messenger is present in the Amazon AppStore catalogue.
As for video calls, in addition to WhatsApp, you can use Zoom (download from the official website) or Skype: Kindle Edition (present on the Amazon AppStore). Alternatively, you can point to Viber (Huawei AppGallery) and Instagram (Amazon AppStore). In short, the possibility of choice is all in all good and the main software is not lacking. Of course, other solutions are also taking hold lately: in that case, you will have to try to rely on APK Pure.
How to restore WhatsApp chats from the “old” Android to the new device
As mentioned above, Phone Clone is unable to carry the app data and therefore, by switching from the “old” Android device to the new Huawei model, you will lose all the WhatsApp chats. In fact, contrary to what happens, for example, for Telegram, Facebook’s instant messaging application can only be used on one device at a time.
Usually, switching from one Android device to another is simple: press a button and backup via Google Drive, then “recover” it by downloading it when the app is started for the first time. Too bad that Huawei’s devices cannot use the BigG service and it needs to do everything manually.
The steps to follow in this case are as follows:
1) Make a local backup on the “old” device and transfer it to the new one (inside the path Internal memory> WhatsApp> Databases, the file involved is the “db.crypt12”).
2) Install WhatsApp on the Huawei smartphone, at the end of the installation do not open the application (it is done through the official website via APK).
3) Go to the phone settings and manually give the app the permissions of Archive, Phone, Camera, Microphone, Contacts and SMS.
4) Start WhatsApp and choose to restore the backup.
If you encounter any problems during the procedure, we recommend that you refer to the guide on the official Huawei forum.
Another widespread use of mobile devices are social networks. In particular, in Italy the most used are Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok and LinkedIn. Well, the first three can be easily found through the Amazon AppStore, so there are no problems whatsoever. TikTok and Snapchat can instead be downloaded directly from the AppGallery.
The only “problem” for those who do not want to use unofficial stores is LinkedIn, since the app must be downloaded from Pure APK. We remind you, in any case, that it is always possible to connect to the official website through a browser. There are no particular problems from the point of view of social networks.
Alternatives to Google Maps
One of the most important problems is related to the “navigator” functionality. In fact, the absence of Google Maps makes itself felt. In reality, the Google app can be downloaded from Pure APK and then used without problems, but without logging in with your Google account. There are interesting alternatives, from Maps.me (AppGallery) to HERE WeGo (AppGallery), but we must admit that once you get used to the Google Maps application it is a bit of a “step back” to use these solutions. In any case, many users are comfortable with these apps. If you want advice, try HERE WeGo, an application that probably comes closest to Google Maps.
The basic functionality is there, but clearly the Mountain View company has built maps that are difficult to overcome. It is, therefore, no coincidence that Huawei ran for cover and entered into an agreement with TomTom. However, it will still take some time to see the fruits of this partnership.
People are buying more and more online and having the applications of the major e-commerce sites available is very important. Well, Amazon Shopping it is present on the AppGallery, as well as Aliexpress Shopping and Banggood. Unfortunately, e-commerce like eBay can only be used via the Web version or through the APK which can be downloaded from Pure APK.
The world of weather applications is immense. There are myriads of software that allow you to take a look at the forecasts. Already on the AppGallery, there is a good selection: just to name a few, you can download them iLMeteo, 3B Meteo and Accuweather.
This is without taking into account the pre-installed Weather application. Amazon AppStore, in this case, does not add much software: if you want a specific app, as usual, you can go to APK Pure.
Reading the news
Google News is an iconic application, which has become almost a symbol for its ease of use. However, relying on other software can be very interesting. In particular, in this initial phase of AppGallery, Huawei is pushing SQUID, a well-known application already downloaded by millions of people. It is complete with everything and also allows you to be personalized as it should be.
For the rest, always staying on the AppGallery, there are Microsoft News and the News Republic, two other popular apps. In short, in this case, you don’t even need to go to the Amazon AppStore or APK Pure. If you really can not do without Google News, of course, you can use it via a browser.
We come to one of the questions that many of you will be asking yourself: how are we doing with video games? Taking into consideration only AppGallery, not very well. In fact, the most popular games available are Fortnite, Asphalt 9: Legends, Lords Mobile, Pokémon Rumble RushGame of Thrones – Beyond the Barrier and World of Tanks Blitz MMO.
Amazon AppStore solves the situation somewhat by providing the user with the ability to download titles such as PUBG Mobile, Hearthstone, Minecraft, Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire, Candy Crush Saga, Clash of Clans and Real Racing 3. However, the absences important there are, from COD Mobile to Pokémon GO, passing through Clash Royale. To download these games you need to go for Pure APK. Once done, some games still require Google Mobile Services to work, but this varies from case to case. In short, Huawei still has a long way to go to populate its store properly in this area.
Music and radio streaming services
In an era where essentially physical records are no longer sold, streaming platforms have become the primary means used by people to listen to their favourite music. The most popular are Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and TIDAL. Well, Spotify can be downloaded from the Amazon AppStore. The Apple Music application should instead be downloaded from APK Pure. Amazon Music is available from the Jeff Bezos company AppStore. The same applies to TIDAL, which can be easily downloaded from the AppStore.
For the rest, the Chinese company recently launched its Huawei Music streaming service, accessible via an app pre-installed on its devices. Most popular songs are featured, so you might also want to check out the service. In short, the choice is not lacking in the field of music streaming. On the radio front, on the AppGallery there are the official apps of Radio 105, RTL 102.5 and Radio Italia. There are also other generic applications, so even here you shouldn’t have any particular problems.
Google Drive documents and alternatives
A shortcoming that many may feel is that of Google Drive since there are several users who use it to manage documents and files. Well, in terms of document management there is the excellent WPS Office (which by the way is pre-installed on some devices), able to read all the appropriate files, from Word documents to PDF, passing through the Excel.
As for the cloud, you may be interested in downloading Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive from the Amazon AppStore. In short, somehow even this “inconvenience” is solved. Alternatively, if you have many files on the Google service, you can access Drive from a browser.
Travel and food
It is certainly not the best time to talk about travel, but it is still applications that will come in handy. Huawei has more time here to run for cover, but in fact there are already useful software on AppGallery, such as Booking, Ryanair, Trip, Vueling and Italo Treno.
As far as food is concerned, there is little on the official stores. In fact, the Glovo, Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats apps must all be found through APK Pure, but the operation must be verified on a case-by-case basis, or the services can be accessed via the official website. In short, Huawei must certainly also work in this field.
Payments, institutions and banking apps
We come to one of the major painful keys of Huawei’s offer: payments and banking apps. As you can imagine, the possibilities, in this case, are latent. On the AppGallery essentially all the major banks’ software is missing. Going to the Amazon AppStore you will find some mobile banking apps, but unfortunately, some software doesn’t work. For example, we tried to install the Unicredit app, but there is no way to make it work (as reported by many other users). Of course, forget all the Poste Italiane apps and so on. The exception is INPS Mobile, put in plain sight by Huawei on the AppGallery.
Not even APK Pure is able to solve this problem. In short, you have to do everything through a browser. Another critical aspect is the use of NFC: the lack of Google Pay makes everything more complicated, so much so that many are predicting the arrival in Italy of the Huawei Pay service. If you want to deepen the topic, we recommend you take a look at the Huawei wallet application, which allows you to store tickets and loyalty cards. However, all contactless payment services like Samsung Pay and the like are missing, so surely this is one of the most critical aspects, which Huawei will have to resolve in the future.
App for telephone operators
Another much-discussed field is that of the official apps of the telephone operators. Huawei is running for cover, but at the moment there are very few solutions. On the App Gallery, there are the mobile config and visual secretariat apps of iliad and the one of Very Mobile is not missing. However, the apps of TIM, Vodafone, Wind Tre and so on are absent.
In short, there is still a lot to do and here the Amazon AppStore and APK Pure cannot solve the situation. Fortunately, it is possible to use the various browser services, but for some users, it may be inconvenient.
Applications for children and education
Those who are not parents often forget about it, but in reality, an important use that people make of technology is that relating to their children. The various stores allow you to download many interesting apps.
If you want quick advice, your kids will probably have a lot of fun with Minion Rush: Despicable Me (Amazon AppStore), RaiPlay Yoyo (Huawei AppGallery), Fruit Cutter (Amazon AppStore) and My Talking Tom 2 (Amazon AppStore). In any case, supervision during use is always recommended.
As for school, it will make many parents happy that the ClasseViva application is available on the AppGallery in all its versions (Students, Family and Teachers). For the uninitiated, this is an app that is used to manage the electronic register and monitor the school progress of your child, from homework to assessments, passing through the program carried out during the day.
Web app and quick app
After analyzing all the various main topics, it is time to tackle some important issues. We know, in fact, how boundless the Android world is and offers a myriad of possibilities.
In fact, there are some “hidden” methods that can allow you to use all the services a little. In this regard, it is important to make a distinction between Quick App and websites. You always go through the official website, but in the first case the end-user almost seems to be using an application and you can do everything directly from the AppGallery. It is a limited possibility, in the sense that it is only available for certain selected apps, recognizable by the presence of the “Open” button instead of “Install”.
To give you a concrete example, looking for Uber on the AppGallery will ask the user to install the Quick App. In doing so, he will be able to use a version of the service just like a common app. It will not be exactly the same, but for many, it may be enough, given that the screen is a bit “fixed” and made different from that of the browser.
However, we found some differences between the various devices: for example, we managed to install the Quick App of Mediaset Play only on a Huawei tablet and not on an Honor smartphone. In any case, Quick Apps can be added to the Home screen by going to AppGallery> Manage> Quick App Management, holding down the icon of the app involved and selecting the “Add to Home screen” item. In addition, once the second Quick App is installed, the system will invite the user to add the Quick App Center icon on the Home screen, in order to quickly start this software.
As regards, however, In Web sites, most browsers allow you to add a shortcut to a home for a particular portal. This means that you can add an icon to the Home screen to quickly open, for example, your bank’s mobile banking portal. Browsers such as Opera, Edge and Firefox all support this possibility: just connect to a site, press the menu icon and select the “Add to Home screen” item (or similar). In this case, the site will be opened as a normal page from the browser, but at least you won’t have to search for it manually every time.
The drawbacks we encountered
After analyzing the main uses and possibilities offered by the Android world, the time has come to talk about the inconveniences we have encountered, so as to give you a more precise idea of the situation.
Third-party stores may download slower than official stores. Furthermore, it is clearly not possible to use the apps purchased, for example, on the Play Store on these devices.
In some cases web apps are more uncomfortable compared to the original ones and having to do a few more taps and learning how to change your habits may not be very simple for everyone. This is without counting that certain applications are based on the Google API or are in any case designed to be published on the Play Store, therefore not having the services of the Mountain View company can prevent the use of certain software, even only partially. For example, if you try to share your location with Telegram, the messaging app asks you to install Google Maps.
To give you another concrete example, as soon as you open the Twitch app, the message ” Twitch will not work without Google Play Services, not supported by your device ” appears on the screen. However, for the moment, by skipping the message, you can still watch the streaming without too many problems. You can imagine the other problems: applications that do not update automatically, inability to put full-screen videos without going through unofficial apps, possible drawbacks with notifications, applications in which the login does not work, old versions of the APKs that may not be most supported from day to day (see Netflix), inability to see HD content and potential security issues.
In this regard, smartphones with HMS perform an automatic security check before the installation of each APK, so in reality, there is a check. However, it is clear that the official Huawei store still needs to be fixed from several points of view. For example, we did not like very much the fact that when you open AppGallery an advertisement sometimes appears for a few seconds.
In addition, some contents on the Chinese company’s store are not exactly the best (looking for “Opera”, we happened to find a browser with a similar icon and the same name, but it was not original). In short, the limits are there and it is important to make them clear, even though the Chinese company is working hard to populate its store. It is good to remember that Google took a long time to build the Play Store, while Huawei is putting up a proprietary solution at record speed. We need to give it some time.
Why you shouldn’t try installing Google services
One last tip: don’t try to install Google services. Of course, in this guide, we have described solutions that could potentially have problems in terms of security if used without common sense, but we remind you that when installing the APKs the system always performs a security check and that, remaining in the stores that we have recommended to you, the risk is greatly reduced. However, the installation of Google services on a Huawei device cannot be done through a simple APK from some store: the ban is a serious matter and you have to go through procedures specifically designed for this purpose.
Leaving aside the fact that procedures like these are destined to last a short time (in fact we have already witnessed the “closure” of some tools) or not to work in the best way (apps like Gmail could crash), they use a really controversial method.
In fact, as analyzed in detail by security expert John Wu on Medium and explained by ArsTecnica, the application that is often used to install Google services is encrypted by a Chinese company. Administrator permissions are essentially guaranteed by the user so that the app can take advantage of a backdoor. In addition, this software cannot be removed until permissions are removed from the app. In short, everything happens in spite of any basic safety rule and we can only advise you to stay away from such methods.