While it’s now been a little over a year since Huawei was blacklisted by the United States, its software progress has been a miracle. It would be a lie to say that a smartphone sold by the Chinese brand is as complete and easy to use as a competing device, but we can only be impressed by the efforts made by the manufacturer to develop its own ecosystem. Between the Mate 30 Pro released at the end of 2019, which failed to run a large number of Android applications, and the Mate 40 Pro of late 2020, it’s day and night. In particular, the brand has redesigned its AppGallery application store to finally make it more practical … even if it means taking a little inspiration from the competition.
AppGallery: a clone of the App Store
In recent months, we have been very cruel to the AppGallery. It must be said that aesthetically, this store is light years away from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Its navigation was crammed with ads and catastrophic 3D effects, the translations were often missed (we still have not digested the Uber half Spanish-half Mandarin) and the menus of the application very complicated to understand. In short, the user experience was really not up to a company that wants to create an app store that can compete with those of Apple and Google.
Officially, Huawei never really took criticism. However, the brand decided to start from scratch (which makes us think that it always knew that its store was not up to par) with an AppGallery worthy … of Apple. And for good reason, it is simply an almost exact copy of the App Store. The home screen now offers articles written by a team of local editorial writers to explore applications. Software and games are separated into different tabs and the whole interface has been simplified. It’s beautiful, if not original. At least, old iOS users won’t be disappointed.
According to Huawei, 80% of the most popular apps on the market are now on the AppGallery. Too bad that all the big American developers, like Facebook or Google, are missing, which once again makes the user experience frustrating. Huawei still suggests using web-apps instead but it’s obviously not as good. Overall, we remain disappointed with the AppGallery. The facade has changed, the catalog still has its shortcomings. Many applications are not there.
Of course, the search engine Petal Search from Huawei is always there to offer assistance. Now accessible from the home screen of the brand’s smartphones, it has the difficult task of replacing Google. It notably uses Qwant to help you do research but can also install applications by exploring sites like APKPure. There is always the issue of updates since, without a store, an app cannot update itself automatically. Petal Search moreover earns an equivalent to Google Lens to search for content from an app photo from a QR Code (an equivalent to Apple’s AppClip).
Petal Maps, finally an integrated mapping software
Available in beta today, Petal Maps has for mission to replace Google maps on Huawei smartphones. Shipped without mapping software until today, Chinese devices will soon be able to launch routes again in more than 140 countries. Its interface leaves something to be desired, but at least Huawei is trying something. Use of the mark Petal rather than Huawei suggests that the mapping software has important ambitions and really intends to develop in the future. The name of Huawei, banned in some countries, would have been a drag.
Huawei has not yet traveled the entire planet, the data of Petal Maps comes from third-party services like TomTom with which it has made an agreement. The brand promises that the traffic information is live.
Little by little, and while waiting for HarmonyOS to completely replace Android, Huawei is improving its ecosystem. Note also the upcoming arrival of a store Huawei books to buy books on their Huawei device.
Our next test of Mate 40 Pro just unveiled will tell you if the brand has won its bet.