If you haven’t been living under a rock and even remotely follow a little bit of technology, you would be aware of the fact that Huawei has been banned from trading with any American company since late last year. As a result, Huawei does not have permission to install any sort of Google apps or services on its smartphones. While Android is an open-source operating system, Google’s core services, more commonly known as GMS or Google Mobile Services is what’s responsible for taking care of activities like syncing your contacts and emails, letting you install apps from the Play Store, and basically run anything that involves Google’s services.
The absence of the GMS core on Huawei/Honor smartphones meant that they had to come up with their own solution in order to continue selling their smartphones. Apps are what add functionality to a smartphone and not having the Google Play Store onboard means Huawei now has to rely on its own solution – the Huawei AppGallery. While this is not a problem in China since Google Services are inherently banned in that region and consumers rely on third-party app stores like AppGallery by Huawei or GetApps by Xiaomi, it certainly poses a problem when you talk about other global markets where users are tied to Google’s services.
Honor recently launched the Honor 9X Pro in India which has a powerful CPU and an attractive design. While the specs on paper are interesting for the price, the phone does not have the GMS core and instead, runs on Huawei Mobile Services or HMS. What this means to the end consumer is no syncing of contacts through your Google ID, no cross-device sync with any other Android devices, no Google apps, and most importantly, no Play Store. One would be forced to use Huawei’s AppGallery in order to download apps or download APKs of all the required apps manually and install them one by one.
Since AppGallery would be the primary source of apps for the average joe, it only makes sense to see if all your favorite apps from the Play Store that you use on a regular basis are available on AppGallery or not and if there are workarounds using which you can install those apps that are not present. Honor claims that AppGallery has more than 90% of India’s top used apps so let’s see if that’s true. Do note that his list is applicable at the time of writing and more apps can be added later on.
Popular Apps that are Present on AppGallery
We made a list of popularly used apps and checked every single app one by one on AppGallery to see if it is available to download. We have categorized the list of the available apps based on their respective genres. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list.
Social Media and Messaging Apps
- TikTok is one of the most trending apps nowadays and if you either make or consume content on TikTok, you’re covered.
- Twitter is another social media app that’s available to download directly from AppGallery.
- Apps like Snapchat, Tinder and Hike are also available. Hike is one of the only messaging apps that are available on AppGallery officially.
Entertainment (Streaming and OTT Platforms) apps
- If you watch a lot of sports and consume Indian content, Hotstar is available to download directly from AppGallery.
- If you are a Jio subscriber, even JioTV and JioCinema are available.
- For Airtel subscribers, there’s Airtel Xstream and for Tata Sky users, the Tata Sky Mobile app can be download straight from AppGallery.
- MX Player, which has now started streaming content too is available and can be used as an offline video player too. Other streaming platforms like Sony Liv, ALTBalaji, Voot and Zee5 are also present.
- JioSaavn, Gaana and Wynk are the only available (popular) apps for music streaming on the AppGallery.
- Camscanner, one of the most popular apps for scanning documents and notes is available on the App Gallery.
- Shareit, also one of the most popular apps for file sharing is also present.
- There’s MS Office and WPS Office to open or create new documents. There’s Zoom for video calls. Unacademy and Byjus are also present if you want to learn new concepts. MS Translate is the choice of app for translating text since Google Translate is not available.
Banking and Payment
- For UPI, mobile recharge and to pay vendors or outlets, there’s BHIM, PhonePe, as well as PayTM. Even Freecharge and Mobikwik are available if you choose to use them instead.
- In terms of banking apps, SBI, Kotak, HDFC, ICICI, and Axis Bank have their official apps on AppGallery.
- Domino’s has its official app along with Zomato, Swiggy, and Dunzo.
Maps and Navigation
- If you are in India, MapmyIndia is available to download from AppGallery.
- If you are outside India, HERE WeGo is your best bet for navigation.
- Times of India has its official app on AppGallery.
- Other apps providing news include Inshorts and DailyHunt if you want news in your regional language.
- Flipkart, Snapdeal, Myntra, and Tata Cliq are some of the popular e-commerce apps that are available.
- If you want to buy or sell used goods, OLX app is present.
- For groceries and daily needs, BigBasket and Grofers are also present.
- Ola is the only app that’s available as of writing.
- Candy Crush and Asphalt 9 are the only popular games that are available on AppGallery. There are plenty of other games too, these are the only popular ones we found.
- Arogya Setu, the app that notifies you if there are any COVID-19 positive cases near you in India is also present.
- There’s PicsArt for editing pictures, CricBuzz for cricket scores.
- Truecaller, the most popular app used to identify unknown callers is also present and so is SwiftKey which is the default keyboard app now.
At the risk of being repetitive, we must mention that this is not an exhaustive list of all the apps that are present. These are some of the popular apps that we believe users would be interested in.
Apps that are Not Present on AppGallery
- All your Google apps including Google Assistant, Chrome, GMail, Google Pay, Google Drive, Google Maps, YouTube, Keep, Google Photos, Google Duo, Gboard, YouTube Music, etc. require the GMS core and Google Play Services to function and hence, all these apps will not work on the Honor 9X Pro or any smartphone without Google Services even if you sideload them by installing their APKs. While there can be workarounds to get Google Play Services to work, there are conflicting reports as to whether it actually works or not and the process itself can be complicated.
- Also, since there’s no Play Store, all your favorite social apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, LinkedIn are not present. When you search for Whatsapp and Facebook on App Gallery, it redirects you to the official APK files of both apps. Also, since there’s no GMail, you will have to use a third-party email client.
- If you watch a lot of Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, or listen to songs on Spotify, these streaming services are not present. Speaking about Amazon, the e-commerce portal’s app is also absent.
- Uber also doesn’t have its app on AppGallery along with Mi Fit and Fitbit if you’re into fitness and own any of those fitness trackers. Google Pay, one of the most popular payment apps in India will also not work.
- If we have to talk about games, PUBG, one of the most popular mobile games is not present on AppGallery and nor is COD Mobile. Even casual games like Temple Run or Subway Surfers are not present.
While you can technically sideload every single non-Google app by downloading individual APKs or by transferring them from an existing smartphone, it would be a huge hassle to update every single app by downloading their respective APKs every single time and manually installing them. Some apps may not work properly even after sideloading since they rely on Google Play Services. WhatsApp, for example, will not let you back up your chats to Google Drive since there’s no GMS. There’s also the risk of malware if you don’t download apps from trusted sources.
Huawei/Honor claims that they are roping in more and more developers to enable support for their apps on HMS and AppGallery, but only time will tell how many of those apps make their way officially. A lot of these apps have been added in the past six months or so which is rather commendable. But if you are heavily reliant on Google’s services, you are going to have a hard time using the Honor 9X Pro or any smartphone without GMS for that matter. Sadly, even if Huawei manages to get the ban reversed in the future, we are afraid that they won’t be able to bring in GMS to existing devices through an OTA update. There are some conflicting reports of people managing to sideload the entire GMS. We will be testing the same and updating this post if and when we receive the Honor 9X Pro unit for review.