Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Huawei is building a "better Android" without Google, here's how


So a lot has been said about the US ban on Huawei and how it has negatively affected the company making it impossible to use GMS Android. Many of us do rely on GMS in our everyday life to the point where it practically impossible to use a smartphone without it. You may know that Android is an open-source OS which means Huawei can still ship devices with Android but that is not what most of us depend on, instead, we depend on something called GMS.

What is GMS?

GMS stands for Google Mobile Services and that is essentially what allows you to have access to every app made and controlled by Google. Apps like Gmail and Google maps all rely on GMS to function. Not only Google apps rely on this but other third-party apps do as well. Take the Uber app, for instance, the makers of this app could not build their own map from the ground up because it is a massive undertaking that would take a decent amount of time and resources. So to make things simple, they use data pulled from Google maps with the help of Google Mobile Services. 

This is why the ban on Huawei is such a big deal because not only are you losing access to Google apps, but also any third-party app that takes advantage of GMS. Huawei is still making devices and selling a lot as well. The managed to beat Samsung to the number one smartphone maker In the world just recently but that can not last for long without GMS or some sort of viable alternative, and Huawei knows that. That is why they are working tirelessly on something that could replace GMS on Huawei phones called HMS.What is HMS?



Huawei Mobile Services is an alternative to Google mobile Services made for Huawei devices. This functions similarly to GMS but could be even better which is fascinating. Huawei wants to create its own ecosystem which will come with many benefits. Why do I say this? Have you noticed that iOS devices handle certain apps like Instagram and Twitter better than even the top-end Android flagships do? Have you ever wondered why? For instance, taking an Instagram picture with your iOS device will look a lot better than when you use your Android device even though the Android device may have better camera specs. Use the same Android device’s native camera app to take a picture, and it will look amazing.

But why though? 

There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, Apple builds most, if not every core part of their device. This allows for a level of synergy that Android competitors can not much. This allows Apple to make sure that every line of code written takes advantage of every little piece of hardware resource available. Samsung by comparison, have their processors built by Qualcomm, their cloud storage handled by Microsoft while using software made by Google. Three different companies producing different aspects of the phone leads to a lack of synergy and control that would allow for true optimization. 

Secondly, Apple just makes fewer devices. This makes it easier for developers to optimize apps for these few devices resulting in a better and more feature-packed experience. For context, Apple releases at most four devices a year while upwards of 500 Android devices are released every year. Developers are unable to tailor their apps to work on Android devices just as well due to numerous Android-powered devices released each year from different companies. There also isn't a system to build once to fit all types of android devices but Huawei has this system. Therefore Huawei can entice developers to tailor apps to Huawei devices only, giving them additional functionality similar to that of ios devices. 

This level of cohesion between hardware and software that Apple has is what Huawei is trying to build with HMS. We know already know they build their own processors called Kirin, so having software on top which they also control will give then the same amount of control Apple has on their devices. This will allow developers to make apps specifically for Huawei devices and be placed on Huawei's own app store called the Huawei App Gallery. This has already shown promise as Huawei has stated that their HMS Android is 60% more efficient than the GMS Android we are used to.



Even if you do not fancy Huawei devices, you should still be rooting for their success since it will bring competition which is good for the industry as a whole. This is a massive undertaking that will take a lot of resources but if anyone can do it, it will be Huawei. They have started pumping a lot of money to get developers to port their apps onto the Huawei store as well as implement the core HMS features into these apps. So far about 1.4 Million developers are developing for the App Gallery and there are about 55,000 apps with these core HMS features built-in. For instance, certain third-party camera apps found on the App Galery have the ability to make use of the telephoto and ultra-wide lenses if available, as well as use Huawei's AI chip for the processing which isn't possible on other Android devices. 

Though these are impressive numbers, there are still a number of important apps that you won't find on the App Gallery right now. So as Huawei does their best to get all our favourite apps on the App Gallery, there are ways to use a Huawei device just fine as well as some things we can do to help Huawei. We will talk about that in the next piece.

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