Huawei launched an upgrade to its foldable smartphone on Monday, putting on offer for overseas users its proprietary ecosystem to replace the Google app and services it has been banned from.
Why it matters: In launching its self-developed app ecosystem to users outside of its home turf, the Chinese tech giant is ratcheting up its competition with Google in the Android service market. It has stepped up efforts to lure users and developers to switch to its alternative to the Google Mobile Services (GMS) framework, which it lost access to in May.
- The world’s second-largest smartphone maker has repeatedly said that it will not abandon the Android mobile operating system, which runs on most of its smartphones. But without Google, it has to develop alternative offerings for its phones.
- The company’s in-house replacement, known as Huawei Mobile Services (HMS), provides mobile applications corresponding to Google offerings such as the Play store, YouTube, and Google Maps.
Details: Huawei launched the Mate XS in an event live-streamed from Barcelona. The new model is an upgrade of the Mate X phone that it showcased last year which features a flexible screen that can fold into a 6.6-inch smartphone and unfold into an 8-inch tablet.
- The Mate XS improves upon its successor with a more durable screen and hinge mechanism, Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business group, said on Monday.
- The EUR 2,499 (around $2,714) device runs the HMS core which provides apps through Huawei’s App Gallery, said Yu.
- The new model will come with a feature akin to WeChat’s mini program. The feature, known as Quick App, will allow users to load apps in second without downloading them from the app stores, according to Yu.
- The company also announced a $1 billion subsidy scheme to boost its global developer program. “We welcome every developer worldwide to join HMS,” said Yu.
Context: Google has banned Huawei from using GMS on new phones as a result of a US trade ban imposed in May.
- Citing security reasons, Google on Saturday warned users against loading its apps through unofficial channels to new Huawei devices made available to the public after the trade blacklist.
- Huawei has teamed up with Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo to form an alternative to Google’s Play store to distribute Android apps to users outside China.
- Last month, Huawei released a new version of HMS, adding capabilities such as Quick Response (QR) code extraction, near-field communication (NFC), and identity authentication.