back to article Huawei claims its Google Play replacement is in 'top 3' app stores after Trump turns off tap to the Chocolate Factory

Huawei is boasting of some encouraging stats for its Google Play replacement after the Trump administration stopped the Mountain View giant doing business with the Chinese comms bogeyman. Last year, Huawei's worldwide handset business took a body blow in the form of the US Entity List, which cut Google off from lawfully …

  1. 41R

    They have replacement for YouTube, FB Messenger, Instagram, Whatsapp, Twitter, Snapchat, Office, Skype, Slack, Evernote, Netflix, HBO GO, Airbnb too?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just checked ... snapchat, skype, office native app are there, seems to be apps that download (and update) facebook apps (facebook/instagram/whatsapp) etc for you. Ditto YouTube. No sign of Evernote or Netflix or slack but imagine the facebook solution would work similarly. Actually Netflix works identically via chrome so the web app version might be an option for them

      1. 41R

        But those are all US apps/companies, same restrictions/sanctions applies to them, too

        1. AIBailey

          Google cannot supply the code for Google Mobile Services to Huawei in China for them to include in their phone build. There's nothing that says that a user of a Huawei phone in another country (e.g. Australia) can't use US-centric apps though.

          Netflix (to use another example) may not be able to provide code directly to Huawei, so the Netflix app can't be embedded in the phone from the factory, but again, nothing prevents a user in another country from installing the app.

          If I was to suddenly become the owner of a Huawei phone without Google, installing the Amazon App store and F-Droid would probably get me 95% of the apps that I have on my current phone. *

          *- a guess. I already have some apps that I've obtained from the two sources above, and know that a great deal of others that I've downloaded from from the Play store are available in at least one of the alternatives.

          1. teknopaul Silver badge

            Anyone know if Play Store is so deeply embeded in the OS that it cannot be installed by a user?

            1. DrXym Silver badge

              It needs a gapps package, root and a bootloader with which can stick it on there. But it's doable. That's how you install Google stuff after you've flashed a phone with LineageOS.

            2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

              I took it that genuine Google Play is proprietary software of Google, so can only be used legally by licensing it, which you probably can't. Now, for bootlegging it - sure.

              I remember seeing cheap "Android" tablets on sale quite a long time ago. At this time, it was strictly phones only, as far as Google was concerned, but still necessarily open source. My online research around purchasing found mainly people working a fiddle to put whatever Google Play was previously called at the time onto these things, or complaining bitterly that due to moving goalposts they now could not do that.

              So I bought a thing called "Samsung Galaxy Tab", not the "current" one of that name but a now unacknowledged predecessor - an Android 2.2 tablet that was "legal" because it was, in fact, a phone.

              Then IIRC there was Android 3 for pure tablets only, then Android 4 for anything. But as far as I remember, I got one update, to Android 2.3, and that didn't work well.

              I think I accidentally left it somewhere in Glasgow probably in late 2018 and someone must have helped themselves to it, but since as far as I know its charging cable is unique as well, they didn't enjoy it for long. If someone sees this... I could still be interested in getting it back. I had it cunningly enclosed in a black book cover... with a neck cord: how it looked wasn't a worry to me.

            3. alun phillips


              No, in fact Google are not distributing the play store, or other GMS services to newer Huawei devices since the trump ban

          2. DrXym Silver badge

            Yes but if that were so, Google could offer Google Apps for download to the device since it would be the user of the country who chooses to install it. Instead they appear to be explicitly warning users not to do it or attempt to sideload GApps in the way you might for LineageOS.

          3. 41R

            That's the problem - you can download and install apps (if you can find them and if they work without GMS) but Huawei can't provide them to you via Play Store, AppGallery or anything else. We are talking about sanctions breach, borderline copyright infringement, etc.

    2. Grikath

      Besides the question: "why would you even want most if not all of that stuff on your phone", the answer is "yes".

      If any of those apps even work within the Great Firewall, most chinese have no real need for them, given that they tend to use social media apps that are not "USA!, USA!" branded or maintained.

      Outside the Great Firewall, you don't need an app store, given that you only have to log in, or sometimes even simply go to, one of those sites through a mobile browser when you haven't got the app installed, and you get bombarded nagged to death forced suggested that their spyware feature-laden app can be downloaded straight from the site at the click of just One Button.

      1. 41R

        People buy phones because of apps, not the other way around

        1. teknopaul Silver badge

          Unless you include the existence of a dialer and a browser as "apps", I beg to differ.

        2. DrXym Silver badge

          Definitely for smart phones, not candy bar phones. This is self evident from all the smart phone platforms that crashed and burned due to lack of apps.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        "Outside the Great Firewall, you don't need an app store, given that you only have to log in, or sometimes even simply go to, one of those sites through a mobile browser when you haven't got the app installed, and you get bombarded nagged to death forced suggested that their spyware feature-laden app can be downloaded straight from the site at the click of just One Button."

        Almost always, this is a link to the Play store entry with a bunch of pop-ups around it. It doesn't help if the user is trying to download the app without Google Play. Of course, if the user wants to find an APK, there are a few sites willing to offer it. As long as you find the one that hasn't added some malware, that will work fine. Unless the app concerned also needs Google Play Services, in which case you will have to find clean versions of those.

        This is why it will be difficult for their international business. We can do all of that, but the general user won't (or, if they're in your family, they'll ask you to). This means that the general public who buys a Huawei device without Google's insertions will end up in this situation, and they may mention this to others considering making that purchase. Only time will tell if enough notice for this to be problematic for Huawei.

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      The more important things are things like local transport apps, banks and so on. Most people have them installed, but the same ones so they don’t make the top downloads lists.

    4. big_D Silver badge

      I just had a look at my apps, neither of my banks are there (to be expected, I suppose), Signal and Threema aren't there, although Telegram is. Firefox Klar is there, but Firefox Mobile isn't.

      Audible isn't there.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Grikath

      Re: Individual developers not allowed

      Just checked the info the App store has on that, and it's not as if they don't allow individual developers.

      It's just that they make it pretty clear ( use of services : 7.3 If You wish to use the Services in order to offer Paid Products to Users You must enter into a Merchant Service Agreement with HUAWEI.) that they only allow paid apps if you're a company. Something-something taxes.... It's not as if they're making a big secret out of it. In fact, they're terribly up-front about it, and make the neccessary information blindingly obvious to find.

      And honestly, selling apps through an app store is (international) trade, and as far as I'm aware that requires having a company in most jurisdictions. Even if it's just a one-man company. Because something-something-taxes.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Individual developers not allowed

        You can be a sole trader. Outside of the UK, that’s how most small businesses are set up.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Individual developers not allowed

          In most countries, you need to be a registered business with a registered VAT number. Registering my one-man-business with my local council was the first thing I had to do, when I started a consultancy in Germany, then obtain a tax number.

          Before I had the tax number, I couldn't buy anything or sell anything.

          Using Amazon for business, in the past we have bought stuff from which was sold through a UK firm on the marketplace that wasn't VAT registered. As a VAT invoice is required for every transaction, we had to return the goods. Since then, we have avoided UK sellers, unless they actually have a registered VAT number in their Amazon profile.

          1. Sirius Lee

            Re: Individual developers not allowed

            You are wrong and being misleading here.

            A VAT invoice is only required if a EU businesses is going to offset the VAT paid on purchases from other EU businesses against the VAT that business includes in its own sales. The only relevant consequence of buying from a business that is not VAT registered is that the buyer is not able to offset the VAT. If a business is not VAT registered it can only offer a sales invoice that does not include VAT. If you are being advised that it is not correct to buy without a VAT invoice, I recommend you get a new adviser. Or be honest and admit the reason you prefer to buy from a VAT registered company is so you can reclaim the tax.

            Since January 2019 no EU business, wherever they are located within the bloc, only need to register for VAT if their annual revenues will exceed €80,000. Businesses below this threshold are likely to be sole traders but not necessarily.

            The UK tax authority, HMRC, has always allowed UK registered companies to opt out of the VAT if the revenues of a company was below a similar revenue threshold. HMRC adopted this approach because of concerns about the burden of VAT on very small businesses. The EU Commission finally agreed and, after initially requiring VAT registration for all businesses, has adopted the UK position because the number of new small businesses in EU member states was falling. Plus the totally impractical requirement that small businesses outside the EU (read USA) had to register for VAT if a EU citizen had the silly idea of wanting to buy one of their products. It was never going to happen so small foreign businesses stopped selling in the EU.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Individual developers not allowed

              "The EU Commission finally agreed and, after initially requiring VAT registration for all businesses, has adopted the UK position"

              Wait... hang on... you mean we got our way on something in Europe?!


  3. TeeCee Gold badge

    ...preventing it from shipping handsets with Google Play pre-installed.

    There should be a conga line snaking its way around Huawei HQ while singing "Donald is my hero."

  4. IGotOut Silver badge

    "Aggressive" push out.

    I've an old Huawei it it recently got an update, the store app was part (only part?) of that update.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: "Aggressive" push out.

      My Mate 10 Pro came with the App Gallery, but it was overhauled in Q3/Q4 last year.

      The selection of apps is still fairly poor, for my needs.

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "claimed it has as many as 3,000 engineers working on it."

    3,000 engineers producing this stuff and that's only for a specific phone brand. Somehow I find that somewhat depressing.

  6. DrXym Silver badge

    Yeah right

    Anyone opening Huawei's app store is likely to be confronted with an empty larder. Soon after they'll be angrily returning their phone to shop and complaining that it doesn't have Google Play on it.

    I'm actually somewhat surprised the likes of Carphone Warehouse are trying to foist these devices onto unwitting consumers given the high number of returns they likely experience.

  7. DrBed

    Huawei App Gallery at top 3 app stores

    It was half-sarcastic (or self-ironic) statement, obviously. Directed to absurdity of Play Store "monopoly". At the same time, Mr. Wu pointed at fact that AppleStore doesn't require GMS either. But this sarcasm came from Richard Wu, not Mr. Hughes.

    What is warrying me is hypotetic situation when even mighty ElReg could not (or won't) recognise it as sarcasm. Instead, half of article is written to "debunk" that statement about HMS weight. Wait, HMS? Yes, whole article is (should be) about HUAWEI Mobile Services (and not just AppGallery that is part of), yet author did not find the reason to rmention it, nor even acronym of same. FYI: HMS is match for GMS; AppGallery for PlayStore, eventually.

    Now, it is quite realistic that "lion's share (of "nonamed ecosystem") is likely in Mainland China"; still, author forgot to mention lion's share of $billions (invested/investing in HMS), going to Germany, Sweden and other development centers worlwide.

    I suppose it has something with partiality for some iCompany that lacks foldables, 5G and losing momentum globally,

    Or is it just BoJoism spreading?

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