Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) is a suite of apps and services owned by Chinese tech giant, Huawei. This suite of apps comes pre-installed on all new Huawei phones.
Huawei is one of the biggest names in the smartphone and telecommunications industry. They have the world’s most advanced 5G tech currently. They are also the world’s number one telecom supplier. In the recent past, they used to be the number two smartphone company in the world, till they got into trouble.
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During the Trump administration, Huawei somehow got embroiled in controversy due to its relationship with members of the Chinese ruling party. On top of that, they were also fingered in a spying scandal as backdoors for eavesdropping were (supposedly) found in their equipment.
The US ban hammer came down heavily on Huawei. They were restricted from working with American companies or using American technology. American companies were also forbidden from working with them.
As a result, Huawei phones were unable to use Android or Google’s mobile services on their phones. They were also unable to work with fabrication companies like Taiwan’s TSMC that rely on US technology. This put Huawei in a very difficult situation.
Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) is born
To cope and stay afloat, Huawei had to create its operating system (Harmony OS) to replace Android. They also had to launch a new suite of apps and services known as Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) to replace Google’s GMS.
HMS is made up of HMS Core and seven services which are: Huawei ID, Cloud, App Gallery, Themes, Huawei Video, Browser, and Assistant.
Each of these services is designed to replace the ones offered by Google. These include Huawei Cloud to replace Google Cloud, Huawei ID for Google account, AppGallery for PlayStore, Huawei Video for YouTube, Browser for Chrome, and Huawei Assistant for Google Assistant. Huawei also provides other apps such as Pop3/imap email, contacts, notes, etc.
HMS Core serves as a hub that ties all these services together. It also serves as a tool kit for developers to code or build apps for Huawei devices. It replaces GMS Core.
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All Huawei phones launched after May 2019 are not eligible to run Android or use GMS. Instead, they all now run on Harmony OS and use HMS. This has not gone down too well with global users, some of whom have switched to Xiaomi, Oppo Realme, Meizu, etc.
As of January 2020, there were about 50,000 apps on the HMS AppGallery, and the number is expected to increase. Huawei is also porting more and more of its phones to Harmony OS and these are expected to use HMS. In March 2020, Huawei reported that HMS was used by 650 million active users.
Huawei has also tried to woo app developers and modders to its platform. They have made it easy to port apps from PlayStore to AppGallery and also offered monetization incentives. In June 2020, it was estimated that there were almost 4 million registered developers on HMS Core.
Huawei has also been wooing other OEMs to their platform as well. In September of 2021, LeTV became the first third-party OEM to use HMS on their phone, the LeTV S1.
Many users have complained about the fact that HMS lacks support for devices outside China. Some apps are built primarily in Chinese and the translations are not always accurate.
The fact that there are not enough apps on the AppGallery is also a turn-off for many users. AppGallery has around 50,000 apps while PlayStore has over 3 million.
Another complaint is that most of the services on HMS are still in their infancy and are yet to fully mature.
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