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Author Topic: Huawei Secretly Develops This Surprise New Google Solution For Millions Of Users  (Read 66 times)
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« on: March 20, 2020, 10:41:44 PM »
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The latest option for millions of Huawei users to skip past U.S. blacklist restrictions and install U.S. apps, including those from Google itself, appears to be a new “official” option from Huawei itself, one that has found a clever workaround in time for the launch of the new P40. The development has been kept secret and has only just come to light as the Chinese giant tests the capability ahead of the P40 launch.

Just a few days ago, I reported on a new Google workaround for Huawei phones released since the U.S. blacklist was put into effect last May. Last year’s Mate 30 and the imminent P40 ship without Google Mobile Services, denying the phones the apps and services that turn open-source Android into the full-fat version.

That workaround came in the form of an app that detected the lack of GMS and offered users a one-click fix, plugging the gap and restoring the devices to a full Android experience. “So easy,” one user commented. “Isn't it expected that Google will do something about this method?” Well someone did do something. The workaround ceased functioning reliably soon after garnering publicity.

“It’s fairly likely that this workaround will be shut down now it’s in the public domain,” I suggested in the article, “and Google will be asked how it’s bypassing its checks.” Google has already warned that users who choose to breach its security and licensing carry “a high risk of installing an app that has been altered or tampered with in ways that can compromise user security.” Google will neither confirm nor deny that it disabled the workaround.

Last September, at the time of the Mate 30 launch we saw various workaround options one after another. Some worked for longer than others. What was clear across all of them, though, is that they required users to adjust the settings on their phone, to install software that was neither licensed nor security screened. Not only did this require a level of technical competence, but it also introduced risk.

Now, just as last year, no sooner has one workaround been publicized and then withdrawn, so we have another one. This fix is different. It doesn’t attempt to restore GMS on a Huawei device, instead, it provides an easy-to-use interface over a bypass that looks to deliver a fix without breaking the rules.

As described by XDA-Developers, the new AppSearch app “is currently being tested in Germany, and the APK is publicly accessible on the German website for the Huawei AppGallery. The landing page for AppSearch states that the app is intended to help users install their favorite apps on Huawei smartphones equipped with Huawei Mobile Services. Huawei lists Facebook and WhatsApp as examples of applications that can be downloaded by searching in AppSearch.”

According to one tech site, “many [Huawei users] still want something ‘official’,” another site explains “this is exactly what is now being offered in connection with the launch of the P40 Lite—the Huawei AppSearch. Apps that are not yet available in the AppGallery can be searched for and installed directly.”

AppSearch works by front-ending the search and installation of apps from other app stores—not the official Play Store. Amazon, APKPure, APKMirror, and APKMonk are referenced, as well as Huawei’s own app store and any download site associated with the relevant app itself. Huawei says that “apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, Spotify and many more,” can be installed, as well as “Google apps if the app can be used without GMS.” Where a core Google app needs GMS, the user is automatically redirected to its website, says YouTube.

“It is, of course, clear that this is only an interim solution,” Huaweiblog.de says, “not comparable to what Google offers. But with this interim solution you can reach more users—this should be a solution for a very large number of users.”

Google is currently looking into this app, to check what is being claimed given it seemingly bypasses the spirit if not the letter of U.S. rules. Some in Huawei seem set to be surprised by this development—it’s certainly not well known, which is staggering given the potential for controversy with anything like this.

AppSearch caveats its methods by saying: “All content is provided by third parties. The content is the sole responsibility of the entity that makes it available.” As such, this is a user-aid not a breach of the regulations. Whether or not this is how it’s viewed we will find out in a few weeks.

There’s a lot going on in the world right now that puts the importance or lack thereof of Google’s absence from Huawei phones into context. That said, the success of the P40 will depend on solutions to the user problem. We will see when the P40 launches the extent to which these workarounds deemed okay.

The reality is that the only way Google will properly return to new Huawei phones is if the U.S. tech giant secures a Commerce Department license—it has applied— or if the Trump administration elects to soften the blacklist.

Given the disastrous response to the Mate 30 outside China, Huawei needs this new solution to work and to appeal to millions of international users. It seems that Huawei will allow its service team to help users with any setup and that the AppSearch app will be in its official AppGallery.

Updated on March 20 with confirmation this is an official Huawei app.

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