Huawei updates developer tools as split from Android deepens

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Staff manages a Huawei store in Shanghai on March 22, 2019. (Image credit: TechNode/Cassidy McDonald)

Huawei released Thursday a new version of its developer tools aimed at replacing Google’s similar offering as the world’s second-largest smartphone maker struggles to gain independence from US technology.

Why it matters: The company has stepped up efforts to create an app and mobile service ecosystem to replace Google Mobile Service, which it lost access to after a US export ban imposed in May.

  • The Shenzhen-based company’s in-house alternative, Huawei Mobile Service (HMS), provides services such as the account system, location kit, push notifications, and in-app purchases, according to its website.
  • Experts believe that with a “joint effort” from developers worldwide, Huawei could replace most Google apps and services such as Google Play, Google Maps, and Gmail with “good alternatives” on its Android phones.

Details: Huawei released HMS Core 4.0, a collection of features open to developers, adding capabilities such as Quick Response (QR) code extraction, near-field communication (NFC), and identity authentication, according to a company statement on Thursday.

  • While HMS Core is a kit for developers, HMS Apps provides mobile applications corresponding to Google offerings. They include Huawei App Gallery, a mobile wallet, Huawei Video, and a music app, according to the statement.
  • More than 1.3 million developers from the globe have registered on the GMS platform, maintaining more than 55,000 apps, the company said.

Context: Earlier this week, Huawei announced it had shipped over 240 million smartphones in 2019, a 16.5% increase compared with the previous year based on data from IDC.

  • The company is investing around $26.1 million into a benefit scheme for British and Irish developers to make apps on its HMS, it said on Wednesday in London.
  • In September, it had to launch a new 5G-compatible smartphone lineup without Google apps or access to its services in Europe.
  • The company debuted its in-house mobile operating system HarmonyOS in August, but company executives have stated that it is not an Android replacement.