Here’s How You Can Still Use Huawei Phones Without Google

The report from Reuters came as a shock to many: “Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software, and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing.”

In other words, you can no longer have the official Android OS on your Huawei phones or any of Google’s services including Gmail and YouTube. Existing users won’t be affected, but once the new Android version is rolled out, you won’t be able to download it.

This is such an inconvenience to users. As the great literary fiction A Song of Ice and Fire put it, “When Lords are busy waging war, it’s the ordinary folks who suffer.”

But ordinary folks don’t have to suffer as much, as they are a lot of alternatives. So, if you are planning to buy a P30 Pro that can zoom through the black hole, here’s the list on what will be affected and how you can work around it:

1. Alternatives to Google Play Store

For most users, the Google Play Store is the single most crucial component of any Android device. It’s the first app you use upon getting a new phone, to install other apps and to get automatic updates.

But have no fear, wipe the tears. Huawei has its own version of Play Store called the App Gallery which also includes automatic updates. In fact, other phone makers, especially from China, have long begun developing their own version of the app store.

One other alternative that’s popular among the tech-savvy crowd is to download the app itself as a file. This can be done simply by Googling the software name with the keyword “apk”, with APK being the file extension of an Android app.

Alternatives to Google Play Store:

  • Your phone’s own version of the app store (which is already built-in)
  • Download APK files at uptodown.
  • Download APK files at APKMirror.
  • Download APK files at Apkpure.

Take note that in most phones, you need to give permission for it to install software from third-party sources. This permission usually can be found in your Settings.

2. Alternatives to Official Google Android OS

Android is the operating system that comes with by default with your phone, which is way more critical than Play Store. While Play Store provides automatic updates to your apps, Android OS itself offers updates to the core system, including security patches.

Good news is, Huawei is already developing their own version of Android. There still hasn’t been definite announcement on when it’ll be rolled out, but it better be soon since Google might stop Android updates to Huawei devices, which will expose the smartphone to security breaches.

However, longtime Android enthusiasts have long used alternative, non-Google Android OSes. These alternative OS are usually open-source and free from bloatware.

Image: Wikimedia

Often times, using an alternative OS goes hand-in-hand with rooting your phones. The benefits of rooting your phones include being able to install apps that are usually not permitted by default. For example, you can download apps that display all the WiFi passwords that you have connected to before, which can be really useful.

There’s a lot of tutorial on the Internet on how to root your device. Some of them are manual, some others are easy to use but might require payment. In any case, do it at your own risk.

Alternatives to Android OS:

  • LineageOS is an Android distribution rather than an alternative. Since it mirrors Android so well, it is the most popular replacement of all.
  • Tizen has strong credibility since the Linux Foundation backs it. Samsung did launch an official Tizen phone called Samsung Z but failed to get traction.
  • Plasma Mobile is the mobile version of Plasma, a desktop OS based on Kubuntu. It is still in an experimental stage and you can test it on LG Nexus 5 devices.
  • Librem is not an open source OS, but an open source mobile devices. You heard that right, they plan to launch physical smartphones, ones that focus on security and privacy so government can spy on your Group Whatsapp conversations (which consist mostly of gossip and fake news from your relatives).

How to root your phone:

3. Alternative to Google Maps

This can be tricky as Google also owns Waze, so we aren’t sure yet whether they would also ban it on Huawei.

In the meantime, you can always use the traditional method – using signboards. Enjoy getting lost in the city. Feel the excitement of wandering to places you’ve never been before. Not a bad idea for a date.

4. Alternatives to the Official YouTube Player

Image: Wikimedia

There’s a lot of other alternative apps that can still play YouTube. Some even offer more features, such as blocking ads on YouTube.

There’s YouTube Vanced that’s almost similar to YouTube in all aspects, and arguably the most stable alternative. Then there’s OGYouTube that’s optimised for the lower-end phones. Meanwhile, NewPipe lets you continue watching the video as a pop-up when you switch to other applications (Warning: DO NOT use this while navigating the road using Google Maps… oh wait).

Alternatives to YouTube official app:

5. Alternatives to Gmail

Image: Flickr/Cairo

Just like YouTube, you don’t need the Gmail native app to use Gmail. Other email clients such as Blue Mail can integrate with a lot of email providers including Outlook, iCloud, and of course, Gmail.

If you want to do away with Gmail altogether, you can change your email account to another provider. It might take a while for you to adapt since you’re so familiar with Gmail and its features. But it is just that – familiarity. You might be surprised by the features that Gmail doesn’t offer.

If privacy is your concern, you can go for security-driven mail providers such as Proton Mail which provides a free account for up to 500MB of storage.

Then there’s Zoho Mail that also has its entire suite of Office-like applications.

Alternatives to Gmail app:

Alternative to Gmail email service:

6. Alternatives to Google Drive

Not having Google Drive on your phone is another killjoy, especially if your workplace is on full G-Suite and you occasionally have to check the documents on mobile. However, editing documents on mobile is not really practical anyway, and if there’s something urgent your colleagues need to show you, they can always send it in PDF.

Alternatively, there is still good-old trusty Microsoft Office. The lesser of two evils, eh.

As for document backup, there are lots of cloud storage services available, the most popular one being Dropbox.

Alternatives to Google Docs, Spreadsheet and Slides:

Alternative to Google Drive:

7. Alternatives to Google Chrome

Image: Max Pixel

Most phones come with their bare-bones, built-in internal browser, so you don’t need to worry much about this one. However, if you want a full-fledged app, there’s plenty of offerings, including Firefox and Opera.

In fact, these alternative browsers usually offer more options depending on your needs. For example, Firefox Focus focuses on privacy, while Opera has a built-in VPN so you can access blocked websites for… research purposes.

Alternatives to Google Chrome:

8. Alternatives to Google Play Music

Who are we kidding? Nobody uses Google Play Music.

You Don’t Have to Depend on Google to Use Your Phone

The spat between Huawei and the USA has been going on for quite a while. Perhaps, more accurately, it’s the trade war between China and America. Seeing that China products including Huawei, Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo have been on the rise worldwide, it can be seen as a threat to Silicon Valley.

On the bright side, hopefully, this competition could push smartphone manufacturers to stir the monopoly, and everybody strives to improve their own services.

Do you think you can use your phone without Google services? What other apps would add to this list? Let us know in the Facebook comments!

What do you think?

Written by MK Zainal

MK was once involved in a magic gig. You know the trick where they cut a person into half? He was one of the halves.

What These Entrepreneurs Can Teach Budding Business Owners, and Practically Anybody About Life