EMUI 11 review: Huawei’s Android skin is viable without Google

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The key phrase right here is “viable”. Bear in thoughts that I didn’t point out on how the absence of GMS on EMUI 11 is imperceptible. Neither did I say that the consumer expertise of an alpha Android fanatic will stay unchanged on a Huawei smartphone in 2020.

But, not like another tech websites that are likely to advise towards choosing up a Huawei machine irrespective of how nice the {hardware} is, or are not capable of suggest a Huawei smartphone that has no Google Mobile Services, I can guarantee you that the dearth of Google Mobile Services on the Chinese smartphone large’s handsets is not a deal-breaker.

With the progressive deployment of Android 11, producers are progressively getting in control by adapting their software program skins to Google’s new OS. NextPit will supply opinions of those interfaces: specifically OneUI 3.0, Realme UI 2.0, ColorOS11, MIUI 12, or OxygenOS 11.

This replace of the Huawei OS is primarily incremental from a design viewpoint, with essentially the most notable addition being an Always On Display (AOD). But it is Huawei’s work on Petal Search: its search engine, and its native purposes to switch Google’s that proved to be fascinating.

Summary:

EMUI 11: Always On Display and new potentialities in multi-tasking

As defined within the intro, EMUI 11 continues to be primarily based on Android 10 and not Android 11. Hence, it is primarily an incremental replace with just a few notable additions. However, the soar to EMUI 11 is not only for the sake of wanting good.

We had been capable of acquire options worthy of Android 11 equivalent to Always On Display. It is an AOD the place every part carries a basic look by displaying primary data: time, date, notifications, and many others. You can even go for an ambient AOD, which adapts to the brightness degree of your atmosphere.

New visible choices are additionally obtainable with designs impressed by the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. You can now select from half a dozen color palettes or synchronise the color with a photograph in your gallery.

A particular function discovered within the Huawei Always On Display in EMUI 11 can be the Eyes On Display or EOD perform. In essence, it is about activating the Always On Display by utilizing the 3D sensor within the entrance picture module, with a view to flip it on once you have a look at your display screen.

It’s not as loopy because the OnePlus Insight AOD and its built-in digital wellness feature, but it’s a pretty cool addition from Huawei in EMUI 11 nonetheless in terms of customisation.

The EMUI 11 Always On Display on the Huawei Mate 40 Pro. / © NextPit

Petal Search: Easier installation and update of APK

Petal Search was launched at the end of October by Huawei. It is a search engine for both the web as well as apps.

Having proven its usefulness and versatility, Petal Search has clearly supplanted the AppGallery function for me. If I were to look for an app, I would go directly to Petal Search. The tool then tells me if the app in question is available via the AppGallery directly, or as an APK on APK Pure, or if I need to create a web shortcut in “web app” mode.

This looks set to be status quo as we know it, considering the situation at hand. Most applications that are not available on the AppGallery can be downloaded from Petal Search via APK. For Google applications like Gmail, you can create a browser shortcut to the mobile web version.

Personally, I’m not a fan of this solution. Take Gmail, for example. I can create a web shortcut that will be displayed as a widget on my home screen, like a “normal” app, but each time I open the app/ shortcut, it will open a new page in my browser. It’s not very ergonomic and is rather messy.

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Under EMUI 11, Petal Search automatically notifies you of your APK’s Updates and allows you to directly create web shortcuts. / © NextPit

The little extra in EMUI 11 that makes life easier is that Petal Search now offers you to create these shortcuts directly, without you having to do it yourself via your browser settings.

Another very good addition to Petal Search is the ability to receive automatic notifications as soon as an APK update is available. Indeed, as you know, an APK is a “static” version of an app and therefore, on a Huawei smartphone, they are not automatically updated via the Play Store since the Play Store is absent in the first place.

So this is a very good step forward for Huawei, as you can be notified as soon as an update is available. This adds some peace of mind when it comes to security on the software side.

Back to Gmail. I explained that the web shortcut solution did not seem satisfactory to me. Please note that you can add a Gmail account via the Huawei native mail application. During my two weeks of use, I have not noticed any delays or errors in receiving my emails on the Huawei Mate 40 Pro.

Basically, I was able to run all of my frequently used apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Slack, Feedly, Telegram, Spotify, etc. without any hitches. Let’s understand each other, the transition is not totally “seamless”. But we’re light-years away from the horror stories that I’ve read on the Internet. While it is not the most ideal situation, but it is far from being in despair.

Petal Maps: A taste of HarmonyOS?

As intuitive as it may be compared to its launch with the Huawei P40, Huawei’s software solution is not totally without its problems, although it is quite viable.

There are still applications, such as Google Chrome, where the “do-it-yourself” (it’s much more than that, but I’m simplifying) approach of Petal Search is not optimal. On Chrome, which can be installed via APK, I had display problems and my screen seemed to be broken. I could not synchronise my navigation data while I was connected to my Google account.

The same story repeated itself on Google Maps, which remained usable even in windowed mode but it did not allow me to log in to record my trips. To make up for this shortcoming, Huawei is working hard and spending billions of euros in R&D and growth prices to supply its personal native options.

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Google Maps runs on EMUI 11, however you possibly can’t register to your Google account. / © NextPit

Petal Maps occurs to be the head flagship of this software program effort. It is, as you’ll have understood, a substitute for Google Maps that continues to be in beta part on the time of writing. The software gives navigation with 2D and 3D views, dynamic step-by-step navigation, with choices together with the quickest route, in addition to the power to show site visitors in real-time.

Petal Maps offers knowledge for over 140 nations and areas, and helps a number of languages, with voice notifications in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Mandarin. Personally, I’ve not been capable of entry the step-by-step itineraries, indicating which metro line to take, and many others.

I do not know if this is as a consequence of my incompetence as a reviewer or if this selection has not but been made obtainable in beta. I’ll replace this text as quickly as I do know extra. In any case, what is sure is this: Huawei is nicely on its method to making a full post-Google transition and I’m actually wanting ahead to seeing what HarmonyOS is able to with the addition of different native purposes like Petal Search.

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Huawei Maps beneath EMUI 11 and on the Huawei Mate 40 Pro. / © NextPit

EMUI 11 and your private knowledge safety

This is clearly essentially the most delicate level for Huawei: suspected of espionage, though not one of the accusations towards the Chinese large has been factually and judicially established for the time being.

For EMUI 11, Huawei has subsequently as soon as once more, and like all producers, emphasised on the safety of privateness and private knowledge, primarily by taking on software program options from Android 11.

For instance, when the display screen of your smartphone is shared by “Easy Projection” to an exterior display screen equivalent to a monitor or TV, your notifications, telephone calls and incoming SMS will probably be routinely hidden.

If an software working within the foreground makes use of the digital camera, microphone, or geolocation, EMUI 11 will show an icon within the standing bar to let you realize that authorisation is getting used.

EMUI 11 will block background purposes from accessing the microphone or digital camera. Huawei has additionally carried out the brand new Android 11 single permission immediate on EMUI 11. There is a brand new “allow this time” permission immediate along with the “allow only during use” choice that Google had added within the Android 10 PSA.

So we’re on a really comparable and constant foundation with what nearly all present Android machine producers supply. The solely massive snag, aside from safety updates, can be OS updates, particularly if there is the intention to change to HarmonyOS in 2021.

In my Mate 40 Pro overview, I’ve the safety patch for September 2020 put in. According to Huawei, all smartphones launched on EMUI 11 ought to profit from the transition to HarmonyOS. According to the most recent data, a brand new beta ought to be obtainable to builders in mid-December, adopted by a primary public beta that may be opened in April.

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EMUI 11 features a very classic-looking authorisation supervisor. / © NextPit

Conclusion

After two weeks of each day use, EMUI 11 left an excellent impression on me. Don’t make me say what I did not say. The transition without Google is not but absolutely underway and the alpha consumer accustomed to GMS and Play Store will certainly really feel the distinction.

But let’s get our heads out of partisan camps, geopolitical disagreements and simplifications of the mainstream media for a second. From a factual viewpoint, EMUI 11 is completely usable and a Huawei smartphone with this Android overlay shouldn’t be missed for my part.

During my overview, I used to be capable of ship messages on WhatsApp, ignore the incessant requests for Meet calls from my colleagues on Slack, procrastinate the writing of this overview by mindlessly viewing YouTube movies that I’m not fascinated with, share my opinion on Twitter without a care on this planet, reply my emails three days late, or seek for a superb neighbourhood kebab through Petal Search.

On the opposite hand, I could not watch Netflix in HD (Google retains management of the Widevine L1 DRM), I could not connect with my Google account on Google Maps or Chrome (which labored within the APK although) and I could not use Gmail aside from an online shortcut.

Huawei cannot go on like this indefinitely. But the Chinese large is not relying on it anyway. The transition is now undoubtedly underway. Huawei is decided to eliminate complete GMS dependency. The EMUI 11 preview of this is proof that it has a de-Googled “home” software program answer is one thing encouraging.

If Huawei continues its efforts and follows the identical dynamics that I discovered throughout my EMUI 11 overview, I will suggest its smartphones with a transparent conscience, Google or not.

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