Smartphone with Google services vs. Huawei smartphone without them

When we say Android, we always mean Google, it's impossible to imagine one without the other. But due to US sanctions, Huawei (and, accordingly, Honor) lost access to Google services, the companies stopped not only joint projects, but also all communication. An amazing situation has arisen when Huawei is trying to create an alternative to Google services on Android, to replace them. Since April, Huawei/Honor smartphones have appeared on the market that do not have Google services, they are replaced by Huawei Mobile Services. Ordinary buyers often do not follow the intricacies of market relations and perceive these devices as ordinary Android smartphones, which they have become accustomed to in previous years. But there are many pitfalls waiting for them, and the user experience, to put it mildly, is completely different, since many things do not work at all or work crookedly. At the end of last year, we had an article about how Huawei is replacing Google services, this was an example of Huawei Mate 30 Pro - not the most mass model, which came out in limited edition. And in many ways it was a smartphone for tech enthusiasts who could spend extra hours tweaking, trying to hack the system to put in Google services. Alternatively, they can do without them altogether. Animals & Pets in Benin City But now we are talking about the fact that such smartphones are entering the mass market and they are being used by those who are not ready for this, have no idea what to expect. In this article I will try to outline the pitfalls and differences between GMS (Google Mobile Services) and HMS (Huawei Mobile Services).

For comparison, I will take two smartphones - Huawei P40 Pro (initially there is no support for GMS) and Samsung S20 Ultra (my main device, Samsung also works most closely with Google of all manufacturers today). It is important to know that since 2020, Google has been consistently blocking all attempts to install GMS on Huawei/Honor smartphones, each method that appears turns out to be temporary. At the time of this writing, there is a way to install the Play Store on the latest Huawei models, but it is complicated and crooked (you can install applications from the store, notifications, Google Pay, and a number of additional features do not work properly). It is a question of a short time when this way of bypassing Google blocks will be closed, as well as the previous ones. In any case, this is a crutch that calls into question the security of data on a smartphone, and also does not give the full functionality of ordinary applications.

In order to appreciate how the regular Android differs from the Huawei variant, let's look at common use cases. These are the applications and services that we use every day and often do not pay attention to them.

Samsung smartphones have a Google search on the home screen by default, as well as a folder with applications from the company. Many applications are non-alternative, as well as search, we will talk about this below.

App store - where and how to download apps

It's hard to disagree that the app store is a key feature in any smartphone. HMS does not have access to the Play Store, it simply does not exist, and you will not be able to install it (even after dancing with tambourines, this will be a temporary story, Google will turn it off sooner or later). The alternative is App Gallery, it's an app store that Huawei is developing and doing it very quickly, there's no doubt about it. But even taking into account the speed that is, and the thousands of applications added, each of them has certain drawbacks. It is impossible to say that the applications we are familiar with look exactly the same in HMS as on regular Android.

The reason for these differences is banal, it is that Android is a system created by Google, and the company's services permeate it through and through. Building applications using Google's development tools is the easiest and fastest way that developers around the world rely on. Giving up these tools is a pain, and few people see any sense in it. Therefore, Huawei has to manually convince each developer that they need to rewrite applications for their HMS, and this is a titanic work. In addition, rewriting applications is not always possible, and many things simply do not work. Also, many American companies cannot work with Huawei, the sanctions are similar to those that banned this work for Google. For example, let's look at Instagram, this application is not in the App Gallery, there is only a link to the web version of the service, and when "installing" this icon appears on the desktop.

For the average user, this is a strange solution, as it has a lot of limitations. But at the same time, you can download Instagram and install using the APK file, the application will work, there will be no special restrictions in it (geotags are naughty, they show strange things, but you can drive them in with your hands - an inconvenience, but not fundamental).

Many applications use authorization from Google (or alternatively from Facebook). As you understand, this authorization is not available in HMS, it simply does not work anywhere. Therefore, for most applications, this is simply not an option. The irony is that even the SwiftKey keyboard, which is standard in HMS, has this authorization (you log in to an account on a web page). But the phrases memorized on one device, other settings are not transferred to another. It turns out that everything is a thing in itself.

Therefore, it is impossible to equate applications in HMS and GMS, they are not the same and will not become such in the foreseeable future. Moreover, we have a lot of questions related to the integration of certain standard features that are in Android and are not available in HMS.

Unlimited storage of photos in Google Drive, program archives

Google's cloud storage is the standard place to store archives of your photos and videos, you can automatically upload high-quality pictures and at the same time do not waste storage in the cloud (that is, the space will be endless). This is very convenient, and the "Disk" itself is pleasant, as it is integrated with "Google Photos", has exactly the same capabilities (keyword search, for example, you can type the word "passport", and you will immediately be shown all the photos that fall under under this description). I haven’t thought about the need to synchronize photos somewhere in the cloud for a long time, I’m not afraid to lose my smartphone or other device, all important photos are in the cloud. Also archives of settings of each device are stored here.

Huawei simply does not have any of this, you do not have the ability to save your photos in the cloud by default without any limits. Alternatively, you can install an alternative program from Yandex, but it has ads, and it is not integrated as deeply into the system as Google Drive, and other features are much worse, for example, image search.

But these are only some of the problems you will encounter, and they are not the most critical. For example, in WhatsApp, it is Google's "Disk" that is used to store archives of media and messages, there are simply no other options. And it turns out that when you change a Huawei smartphone to any device, be it Huawei / Honor or another manufacturer, you simply lose all your information, it will not work in some fabulous way.

And besides WhatsApp, there are many programs that also rely on Google's "Drive" (offhand the same Viber) to store their data and synchronize them between different devices. Huawei has not yet been able to create alternatives for this. I would venture to suggest that third-party programs will not be able to do this, since they must be integrated into the system.

For Huawei, this is also a big problem, the more they interfere with the system, the more it differs from the basic version of Android, its own errors and opportunities arise. The discrepancy between systems is growing, as a result, creating software for HMS becomes a separate task. At the first stage, Huawei can hardly afford it, so they will avoid any fundamental differences for at least 2020 and maybe the first half of 2021.

He didn't say anything at all about games and synchronization of progress in applications with a proprietary service from Google, this is also not in Huawei, for most well-known games, transferring game data from a Huawei smartphone to HMS is simply impossible.

App Notification Mechanism – Google vs. Huawei

Many people do not know or simply do not understand that Google services are not so much applications that are on your smartphone, they are what is hidden under the "hood" of the system and allows all its components to function. Third-party programs are guided by procedures written in Google, without them, some of their functions simply do not work.

It is important that programs can send notifications, otherwise such programs will be of little use, right? Every time you go into the program to find that something happened there, it's not very pleasant. Formally, there is an alternative for Google notifications, but the developer needs to rewrite the code - often this is long and expensive. In Russia, for most of its applications, Yandex wrote versions for HMS, including reworked the notification system, they work. Another Internet giant mail.ru approached the issue formally, the applications have been rewritten, but they still do not know how to work with notifications. I think that sooner or later they will do it and everything will work.

But let's think about how software from American companies, such as Skype, will work. Checking on Huawei P40 Pro showed that notifications simply do not come! You miss messages, you don't know about their existence. And it's just a kind of roulette, you will never know about it until you try it. The user experience is not very good.

The most popular browser on the planet is Chrome by Google

Historically, Chrome has been the most popular browser. In my opinion, this browser is far from perfect, but it has versatility. Once logged into your Google account, you get the synchronization of history, bookmarks, passwords and preferences across devices. For example, I have a MacBook and Windows laptops, the latter are used for tests, various smartphones. The versatility of this approach lies in the fact that I do not need to think about my data, they are always at hand. Lots of browser extensions add to its capabilities and it's a working tool for me.

For HMS-smartphone, it is possible to download the browser APK from Google, moreover, this application will be installed and will work! But you won’t be able to log in to your Google account, that is, you will be forced to look for alternatives to this browser, since its main features will not be available to you.

The only more or less lively alternative is the browser from Yandex, which has exactly the same capabilities. But this means that you will need to use it on all devices, install it separately. The number of those who use the browser from "Yandex" is quite small, among the mass user it is a small number. The transition is relatively painful, as you will need to forget all your bookmarks, passwords and just start life from scratch.

Voice functions - voice input, text transcription

Google is ahead of the planet in the quality of transcribing voices in different languages, the company's engine easily copes with dozens of languages, it can recognize another language in a phrase. And this de facto has become a kind of standard, for example, in a car, I can often ask my smartphone to search for something or type a message, and all this without the participation of hands, only with my voice. Fiction? Ordinary in our times.

HMS simply does not have voice functions, or rather, they are left over from Google. In the same keyboard, it is suggested to download the engine from Google, but it is simply not available.

You can't get voice features, an assistant. Huawei, in order to solve this problem in Russia, added the Marusya voice assistant, but its integration with the system is minimal, and the quality of the assistant itself lags behind even Alice. This is a rather poor, stripped-down solution.

And here Huawei is lagging behind Google for many years, and this issue will not be resolved quickly and painlessly. Therefore, when choosing a Huawei / Honor smartphone, you need to forget about the possibility of voice control, advanced assistants.

Payment systems - no Google Pay

For Android smartphones, Google Pay is the main payment system, on Samsung you can also use the native Samsung Pay, there is a choice of such systems. All banking applications are integrated with these systems and allow you to work with them. At the same time, HMS does not have its own payment system, which is a huge minus. In Russia, there is a third-party application "Wallet", it can be called an external crutch so that you can pay for purchases in a contactless way. Integration into the system is also not the same as in the case of the listed systems.

But at least there is an opportunity to somehow pay, quite recently this was not at all.

Google Maps is the standard for third-party apps

For Android app developers, the easiest way to add maps to your apps is to use Google Maps. It doesn’t really matter what kind of application it is, for example, it can be food delivery (“Yandex” is not taken into account, they use their cards, and this is a happy exception). Every time you try to enter the maps, they swear, as there is simply no support for them in HMS. And besides delivery services, there are many other applications, and at least the same Tinder that is used for dating.

It is also impossible to place cards separately, you simply have no alternative. And this lack of an alternative is a clear sign of HMS in its current state.

Unpredictability when installing apps from APK

Huawei is forced to survive, creating its own alternative to Google services did not come from a good life. It is impossible to test tens of thousands of applications, it is a huge layer of work, as well as contacting all the developers and convincing them to spend time and money rewriting the software. Therefore, many applications work in a strange way, it's good when they simply do not install, for example, like the Gett taxi service.

Vkusvill requires an update after installation and sends you to the Play Store, this is a very common situation, many applications take you there by default. This becomes especially ironic in the case of applications from Yandex that are installed from the App Gallery, they periodically forget where to direct the user and knock on the Google store without receiving a response!

And such examples are far from isolated, there are a lot of them, it makes no sense to describe each one.

Short conclusion: HMS is an alternative to GMS today or not

The creation of HMS did not come from a good life, but because of US sanctions that appeared unexpectedly. Huawei is investing huge efforts in HMS, trying to convince developers to write their applications for this system. Someone is strategically investing in this area, many are waiting to be paid for it, and this is a utopia, since there is clearly not enough money for everyone.

So far, HMS looks like an attempt to provide an alternative to conventional Android smartphones, to replace standard, familiar applications and services. But it is impossible to create a complete, logical and problem-free system in such a short time. If on the same Samsung smartphones you get any native service from Google, as well as all the variety of additional software without any restrictions, then on Huawei, as a rule, this is one service that is weaker than that on a smartphone with GMS. There are no alternatives in HMS today, they simply do not exist. Those applications that work do not always do it to the fullest and are noticeably weaker than they are on regular Android with Google services. Alas, this is reality, the only question is how to treat it.

It is impossible to count on the fact that Huawei will be able to solve all these problems with a jerk. This is a long, complex process and will take at least a few years. And then, provided that Android will be available in its version without GMS, as there are persistent rumors that due to the trade war, this version of Android may also stop developing and cut off Huawei from this system completely. When you read the news about the actions of the US government against Huawei, it no longer seems as fantastic as it was a few months ago.

When buying Huawei / Honor on HMS, you need to clearly and in detail understand what limitations the system has today. The ability to install the Play Store and Google services is either completely absent or very limited - Google will close all loopholes. Therefore, you should definitely not count on it. And you need to focus on how you will use your smartphone, how much you will have enough of its capabilities in such a truncated form.

For technology enthusiasts, perhaps this is a good toy to keep experimenting, to keep busy. For the mass buyer, this is definitely a complex product, which is justified only in the case of basic scenarios, when there is no need for something complicated - a messenger, a browser, some additional programs. At the same time, you need to understand that it will not work to transfer program data to another smartphone, your smartphone becomes a thing in itself, during migration you will take away only content, but not correspondence in instant messengers (Telegram is a happy exception).

A lot of US companies are not allowed to work with Huawei, so their HMS software will never be written and will not appear in the system, for some this will be a revelation, but this is how it is.

In retail, when selling smartphones on HMS, buyers should be warned that they do not support services from Google, so as not to mislead people. Often they don't. Even more often, I come across reviews that HMS is a complete alternative to Google services and there is no difference, this text itself proves that this is not so.

Given that the cost of hardware (read, Huawei / Honor smartphones) is the same as that of similar Android smartphones, you need to clearly understand what you do not get in terms of software, what restrictions await you. This is an important point when you need to be aware even before buying what is present in HMS and what is not, so that your purchase does not turn into a headache for you. You need to realistically assess your needs and what HMS has today. Reality is always important so that there are no disappointments and wasted nerves.