Huawei without Google: Everything is replaceable

in the first part Huawei without Google: what are we really losing? I showed a pleasingly long list of apps that continued to run without any issues when switching to a non-Google Honor smartphone (in the course of the Honor 9X Pro test). Some, however, caused problems in the operation. I’ll show you how I fixed it here.

Applications that I had to replace with a web application

  • base camp 3
  • Bring!
  • eBay
  • meeting places
  • (Hangouts) Get together

If apps don’t start at all, it’s often due to stubbornly scheduled Google services. You can just continue to use some of them as a web application. This can be done without any problem with…

With others, on the other hand, you have to cheat. Because some websites recognize that you open them with a smartphone. Then, they suggest you to download the app from Play Store. Don’t let that put you off.

huawei where google web apps

eBay (not classified!) and Basecamp 3 offer excellent web applications. On the other hand, Google (see Hangouts, right) will intimidate you. / © NextPit

In the pre-installed browser, you can search for individual URLs (such as https://hangouts.google.com) to always open in the desktop version. Services then begin as usual. Unfortunately, operating the desktop website on a smartphone is extremely complicated due to small fonts and buttons. Also, you will not receive any notification. they actually exist web notifications, but Huawei’s browser didn’t want to allow them. After all: with the Hangouts video chat app meet Both the camera and the microphone worked perfectly.

huawei where google desktop apps

You can also download desktop apps (Bring! on the left, Meet on the right) to your smartphone. But that’s more of a temporary fix than a workaround. / © NextPit

You can place links to web applications on the home screen. So it looks like you actually installed the app. Unfortunately, the standard browser opens a new tab every time. The Firefox browser (available as “Fennec” on F-Droid) solves this much more elegantly by loading web applications on their own instances and thus avoiding such duplication. Now I only use Twitter in this way.

Google doesn’t want it

a meeting places I have to say that the move in is a disaster for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, Hangouts will be shutting down soon, so the pain is limited. However, I would have liked a third party client. It was in the works in the form of HangupsDroid, but was discontinued a year ago. Then it is no longer possible to log in. The workaround explained above with the Hangouts web app only works with the desktop mode hack. You will no longer receive notifications of new messages.

Alternatives to known applications

  • Google Assistant 🠺 Alexa (Amazon Store), AntennaPod (F-Droid)
  • Google Calendar 🠺 Business Calendar 2 (AppGallery)
  • Google Maps 🠺 Maps.me (App Gallery)
  • Gmail 🠺 Email (pre-installed)
  • Joey 🠺 Reddit (Pure APK)
  • Threema 🠺 Threema (new purchase on Threema.ch)

the google assistant I used to mainly listen to news podcasts (“Ok Google, play news”). Alexa can do the same thing, so I tried her app. However, this shows significant issues with the Honor 9X Pro. Sometimes playback freezes, sometimes streams won’t load, other times I can’t resume a stream after pausing it. In no case can I control playback and jump to a certain point in the stream. A real podcast player was needed. F-Droid’s AntennaPod is the perfect replacement. I am very happy for this new discovery.

podcast player google amazon antennapod

Only AntennaPod can truly replace Google Assistant’s podcast player. / © NextPit

Alexa, on the other hand, is a good replacement for smart home control if you previously relied on Google. Of course, for reasons of data protection, it is more advisable to use open source solutions such as hass.io or OpenHAB. However, its voice control is not that well developed.

the google calendar Fortunately we can replace it with the Business Calendar 2 developed in Berlin. There you sign in with your Google account (two-step confirmation is no problem) and within seconds all your appointments are synced, in both directions of course: if you create an appointment, your colleagues will receive it too.

Actually, Google Calendar is not a team player

If you depend on Google Calendar as an online service for professional reasons, you should consider another provider. Because Google doesn’t use the CalDAV calendar standard (or the CardDAV contacts standard) by default. This severely limits the selection of compatible calendar apps and creates a kind of vendor lock-in.

google maps I mainly use it for biking. Maps.me proved to be a viable replacement, but there are other alternatives. Here Maps is probably more interesting for motorists. I have not noticed much of Huawei’s alleged cooperation with TomTom. That will probably come later.

That original google maps it is available on APKPure and surprisingly it works perfectly. You just can’t sign in and there is a warning from Google Play when determining your location. However, you can ignore them and continue with a good localization.

gmail I was able to set it up in the pre-installed email app with no problem. Two-step verification wasn’t a hindrance either, as is often the case with Google sign-in in third-party apps. The app only loads a few dozen emails per mailbox. I was still able to search for older emails because the app displays a “Search Server” button below empty search results. That worked surprisingly well.

Apps and features you will miss

From the list of sample apps mentioned in the first part, I couldn’t replace the following:

So you would have to look for a replacement for the time tracking app or find another solution.

The notification system is broken.

I also lost a lot of functionality. Almost all notifications went silent. Just the occasional email and, with much delay, new Telegram messages made my smartphone vibrate. Otherwise there was silence. eBay auctions went by, Slack messages went unanswered, and Google Calendar appointments went off without me; until someone called me upset.

However, this is also due to EMUI’s aggressive power management. Therefore, all background activity of applications is prevented; and it is precisely this that is responsible for managing notifications. Without Google’s Firebase, or Huawei’s equivalent, as the middleman, each app would have to ask its headquarters individually if there was anything new. However, since this consumes a lot of power, Huawei’s software kills such processes; much to the chagrin of those who seek his attention.

Therefore, Huawei should quickly set up a core system that puts an end to this usability deficit. Ideally, it is 1:1 compatible with Google’s Firebase interface, so app developers don’t have to customize apps at all. If such an application is installed on a Huawei smartphone, it automatically accesses HMS. Energy is saved, messages arrive quickly, everyone is happy. Bonus Objective: This new system is open source, decentralized, and subject to public oversight.

Missing Google Cast

If you have a FireTV Stick, Chromecast, or Cast-enabled speakers, you won’t find a Cast button in streaming apps on non-Google phones. This is annoying insofar as some WiFi speakers can be connected to each other particularly easily as a multi-room system via Google Cast. At best, you could replace those speakers with Alexa-enabled ones.

There’s the LocalCast app (AppGallery), which, as the name suggests, lets you send local broadcasts from your smartphone to Google Cast recipients. The app also attempts to redirect webcasts to broadcast recipients through the share menu, URL input, and browser in the app. However, the simple one-button streaming feature in streaming apps like Netflix can’t replace this.

Contactless payment is not yet available

Huawei should take care of a partnership for contactless payments as soon as possible. I see Wirecard and PayPal as possible partners, but I’m glad they surprise me. Google Pay has a big advantage thanks to extensive banking integration plus a PayPal trick. Mountain View fought hard for it in neophobic Germany. If Huawei wants to catch up here, the Chinese would have to make the banks an offer they can’t refuse.

Many apps out of sample

In a separate article, I had already tested the user experience with an intentionally ungoogled smartphone. Car sharing apps in particular, many games, and some streaming apps only worked with cheats. In a third part of this series, he would have to find out if the MicroG framework alleviates Google’s dependency on those apps and if I can install Google apps on the Honor 9X Pro after the fact. That would be the boss fight of this item trilogy, so to speak.

conclusion

In the first article, I ended with the words “everything works somehow. And it tends to get easier.” in fact, the fight against old habits is associated with various new joyful discoveries and aha experiences. However, I am curious by profession and particularly stubborn in the field of smartphones.

I can understand if someone doesn’t want to muster this stubbornness for a device that’s supposed to make life easier. So I hope even more that the advice in this series of articles will help you and lower the threshold a little. If you have any further questions or suggestions, please use the comment function.