Huawei’s Honor explains how AppGallery does justice to its non-Google smartphone, Honor 9X Pro

Speaking to HT Tech, Honor says that Indians might not face a massive change or feel they are missing out on something since it has onboarded 95% of India’s top 150 applications to the AppGallery.

But since there are no Google apps on Honor 9X Pro, it might be possible to sideload certain
But since there are no Google apps on Honor 9X Pro, it might be possible to sideload certain (Robin Sinha\Hindustan Times)

Huawei's Honor 9X Pro is a really big deal for the company. It's not just another smartphone in the market but more of a 'make it or break it' handset for the Chinese tech giant. Why? That's because it is Huawei's first 'non-Google' phone to launch in India. Yes, that means you won't get Gmail, Google Photos, Google Maps, Play Store or any other Google service that you usually see on Android phones these days.

And let's face it, we saw this coming considering how China and the US have locked horns over sharing tech and services with one another, which in this case means everything related to Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Netflix and more. Huawei however, has come up with a solution in the form of its AppGallery and this will be one of the key factors that will determine this smartphone's success or failure in 2020.

Speaking to HT Tech, Honor says that Indians might not face a massive change or feel they are missing out on something since it has onboarded 95% of India's top 150 applications to the AppGallery. Huawei's AppGallery is platform from where users can download apps - just like Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store. These include communication apps like Airtel, Truecaller to MapMyIndia and entertainment apps such as Hungama Play, MX Player and others. And since most of us now use e-commerce apps, you get PayTM, Zomato, Groffers, Flipkart, Zara, HDFC and others on the list as well.

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Some apps included in AppGallery.
Some apps included in AppGallery. (Honor)

The firm even has Aarogya Setu in its AppGallery. "We have already on-boarded Government of India's Aarogya Setu App a few weeks back and have already received good downloads so far. It was not really difficult to make the app compatible for Honor 9X Pro. The app is independent of any platform and offers an open source access to companies to on-board it on their platforms. The aim is to ensure mass penetration and get more and more people to use it," said Honor to HT Tech.

But since there are no Google apps on Honor 9X Pro, it might be possible to sideload certain Google applications. This is possible, but Honor of course, recommends not to do that. When asked about it, Honor replied "Through the AppGallery, we aim to give users a new experience and recommend them to use Honor provided apps that come preinstalled on the smartphone or are available on the AppGallery."

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Although the company says that apps in AppGallery are safe to download and are tested, a major question here is whether the app marketplace has something like 'Google Play Protect' to keep things in check. Turns out, Honor is banking on its own tech called 'Safety Detect' that provides SysIntegrity, AppsCheck, URLCheck, and UserDetect functions to make sure the app you see in AppGallery is safe.

"AppGallery has a full-cycle security and protection system, including developer real-name verification, four-step review process, download and installation protection as well as a prevention mechanism for secure app operation," Honor explained.

And this comes in addition to what the company calls a 'Trusted Execution Environment (TEE)' that acts as another layer of security outside the open Android environment to protect user data. The user data we are talking about here includes fingerprint data, face recognition data or keys.

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So, while the security is in place, the ultimate question remains. How much of a difference will it make in real life use? Huawei says that it has you covered with all the key apps in its AppGallery. Here's a list of some essential apps and the alternatives that you get:

Google Maps - Mapmyindia,

Gmail - Stock email app that lets you connect with Gmail account.

Chrome browser - Inbuilt browser.

YouTube - Available through web version.

Netflix - In talks with the streaming firm.

WhatsApp - From the website.

Facebook - From the website.

Instagram - Already available

That said, although WhatsApp can be downloaded from the website, where does it back-up the data? Usually in Android phones, the WhatsApp data is backed up on Google Drive. So how is Huawei going to pull this off?

Honor says that since WhatsApp uses cloud service for backup, it has "nothing to do with a smartphone, hence there is no challenge faced by the brand. As soon as you install WhatsApp and run it, the app will prompt you to back up your data from drive like you normally do."

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Like we said before, Honor 9X Pro is the company's first 'non-Google' phone in India so this is an experimental (also risky) move. The only way up for Honor right now is to quickly onboard as many essential apps as possible. However, at the same time Honor is taking it as an opportunity to make customers more aware about the AppGallery and how they can still get work done without using Google applications and services.

"Through Honor 9X Pro we want to educate our consumers about the AppGallery which has already established itself as one of the world's top 3 app marketplaces," says Honor adding that they will be bringing in more devices with the AppGallery to India soon.