What is a mobile device without apps?
The common joke over the last decade has been that “there is an app for everything”. While that is kind of true, for our brothers and sisters living in China, it’s always been an issue accessing the same app stores to download apps as we do. That has mainly got to do with the country’s strict laws. As a result, companies have always found ways of making sure their Android devices are just as well-served app-wise as the rest of us who have the luxury of the Google Play Store.
For Huawei, the need to make sure users of its various devices have ready access to apps (among other commercial reasons, of course) is what led to the development of its own in-house mobile application store. However, that store (link) has been limited to its Chinese home turf, something that the company, now a global powerhouse when it comes to mobile technologies, is hoping to change with the release of its latest device, the Huawei P20.
According to Huawei, the app store, named AppGallery, will come pre-installed on its 2018 flagship device. Huawei App Gallery is expected to be made available to older devices starting in the second quarter of the year and, subsequently, it will be a constant feature on all new devices from Huawei and its budget sub-brand, Honor.
This latest move crowns a journey that has taken 3 years. It is back in 2015 when Huawei started aggressively pushing something new, the Huawei ID, on new devices as part of the extensive customizations it makes to Android with its in-house Emotion user interface (EMUI). For users to access the apps and games that AppGallery will be offering, they will need to sign up with their Huawei IDs.
Huawei has the lofty ambition of one day being the biggest smartphone vendor in the world. Already, it is the world’s third largest maker of smartphones and the second biggest maker of Android-powered devices. Fierce rival Samsung, which sits at the head of both tables, has had a similar approach since its early days, with a Samsung app store (currently known as Galaxy Apps) that is tied to a user’s Samsung account.
Other device makers like HTC have since abandoned blanket efforts to build apps and services that are, visually, just duplicates of existing products provided by Google and preloaded on their devices as part of the Google Play Services certification terms.
There’s a pointer on GSMArena that when you allow sideloading of apps on your existing Huawei device and then head over to wap2.hispace.hicloud.com via the browser on your device, you should be able to get AppGallery. I tried that and it did not work. I guess I’ll have to wait till deep into Q2, then.