Huawei’s latest devices have no access to navigation for Google’s Play Store, instead relying on its own store, called Huawei AppGallery. This means many crucial apps aren’t available. Now, an important arrival means one area with a big gap – navigation – suddenly has enough apps to make AppGallery a potent alternative.
Huawei’s latest devices have no access to Google’s Play Store, instead relying on its own store, called Huawei AppGallery. This means many crucial apps aren’t available. Now, an important arrival means one area with a big gap – navigation – suddenly has enough apps to make AppGallery a potent alternative.
The content of the speech chimed with Huawei’s commitment to make the AppGallery a credible alternative to iOS and Android. It was primarily designed to reassure what the company described as “the millions of European customers who voluntarily choose and trust Huawei’s technology”. Why is this important? Well, if that commitment is there for Europe, then customers outside China are being strongly supported, Huawei is saying.
The AppGallery, the keynote mentioned, is now the third largest app marketplace – well, that’s hardly a surprise and there’s a pretty big gap between numbers two and three. All it really means is it’s overtaken Amazon’s app store. Peter Gauden, Head of WEU EcoSystem Marketing, contributed to the keynote and explained that more than 5,000 new apps were being added each month.
Which is more than might have been expected. Globally, there were 184 billion downloads of AppGallery apps in the first half of the year, though that’s not broken down by nation. Gauden also shared the detail that there are 33 million monthly active users of AppGallery in Europe out of 460 million worldwide.
Globally registered developers now total 1.6 million, Gauden said, which is a 76% increase over the first half of 2019.
He also said that Petal Search has proved very popular, with more than 1 million European users. Set against the number of European iPhone users, say, that’s not huge but here’s the thing: Petal Search, realistically, is only used by users of Huawei phones which don’t have full-fat Android on board, that is, phones from the Huawei Mate 30 onwards.
There was a strong commitment by Ji to research and development, including the claim (which is pretty powerful, assuming it’s true), that Huawei is the fifth biggest investor in R&D worldwide. It’s also the fifth on the 2019 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard. No, I’ve never heard of that scoreboard either, so I can’t judge what it means. But Huawei committed to invest an extra $100 billion in R&D over five years, back in 2018 and there was a confirmation that this was on track.
All of which seems to indicate one thing: if any company in the world could create a viable third app system, it would be Huawei – something that neither Microsoft nor Nokia were successful in doing. Nor BlackBerry, for that matter.
Huawei Mobile Services Core has 81,000 apps globally integrated with it, the keynote explained, which is important as that’s what’s on offer as an alternative to Google Mobile Services which underpins many apps such as Google Maps, for instance. And one of those 81,000 is TomTom Go Navigation.
AppGallery previously took a big step forward in mapping terms when the excellent Here WeGo Maps debuted on Huawei’s store.
WeGo offers special benefits such as offline use thanks to free downloads of country maps in advance. But using it offline means no traffic information, for instance.
And though Here WeGo has an impeccable pedigree – it began as Nokia Maps when the Finnish company bought NavTel – it has never reached critical mass.
TomTom, however, is an unquestionable big beast in the world of mapping with huge name recognition. It also has an offline setting, something that’s strikingly important for navigation apps, since you may well be using it abroad where roaming costs can be high. With TomTom Go Navigation, detailed 3D maps are stored on the phone.
Go online and traffic information and speed camera warnings are available.
TomTom specialities include moving lane guidance which helps drivers navigate intersections by indicating which lane is best. You can also customize maps by adding or deleting regions as needed.
The only downside is that TomTom Go Navigation, unlike Here WeGo and indeed Google Maps, is not free. There’s a 30-day free trial, after which it costs $12.99 per year, $8.99 for six months or $1.99 per month.
This is not TomTom’s first collaboration with Huawei. The company uses TomTom’s mapping solution in its Huawei Mobile Services kits, which developers can use – ride-share apps need mapping kits, for example. Those are not accessible to consumers, of course, but this app, based on the same mapping, is.
Oh, and that’s not the end of the story. Huawei’s own Maps app is coming and is being developed in conjunction with TomTom. It Huawei gets it right, it could diminish the loyalty to Google Maps decisively.
You can, of course, use Google Maps already, through a web browser, but that’s hardly the same. You can even download the app on to Huawei phones, but its features are not as comprehensive. No, the big change will come with Huawei Maps, but this week’s TomTom Go Navigation addition is a very welcome arrival which works flawlessly and has the best mapping in the business.
Originally published by Forbes