The Capabilities of HMS - Huawei’s Operating System (Harmony OS)

As you may have heard, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei had their license to use Google’s mobile services revoked by the US government while under ex-President, Donald Trump. So, what does this mean for the impressive smartphones that Huawei are famous for making? Is this the beginning of the end for Huawei? Well, not exactly…

The US Trade Ban

Due to the trade war between the United States of America and China, in May 2019, Huawei were put on the US ‘Entity List’. This means that Huawei cannot do business with many selected US-based companies. One of these companies includes Google, the company that runs the Google Search platform, the Android operating system, and many other online services.

USA China Trade War

Because of the ban, Huawei and its newest smartphones have been denied access to the Google Mobile Services platform, known as GMS. Following the ban, Huawei decided to accelerate the creation of its very own platform which has already been a few years in the making, known as Huawei Mobile Services (HMS). So, the question is…what does this mean for the older smartphones, and for the newly released smartphones from Huawei?

If you currently have an older Huawei smartphone, it is likely that you still have all of Google’s online services available to you without any problems. With this, any Huawei smartphone released before May 2019 still has access to GMS; therefore, only the most recent Huawei smartphones have been affected by the recent proceedings. Some of the first devices which arrived without GMS from Huawei include the likes of the Nova 6, Honor V30, and the highly-rated flagship Mate 40 Series smartphones.

So, what if you have one of these newer Huawei smartphones or want to buy one? What are you losing out on? Well, on your new Huawei smartphone, you will be unable to use any of Google’s apps. These include the likes of Google Maps, Google Drive, and Gmail. Instead, you will have available to you a wide variety of other apps to choose from. You can utilise Huawei’s very own apps (many of which come already preloaded onto the phone), such as Huawei Mail, Petal Maps, and Huawei Music; or you can even decide to download third-party competitors for all of your app needs.

Huawei HMS AppGallery


With the lack of GMS, users of the newest Huawei smartphones will not have access to the Google Play Store, the place where Android users download the hundreds of thousands of available apps. In response to this, Huawei opened up their very own app platform allowing its millions of users to download mobile apps and games securely. Huawei have called this the AppGallery.

As of March 2020, the AppGallery had over 55,000 apps and games available to users, along with more than 1.4 million registered developers registered to make their own apps work with Huawei’s new ecosystem. For most developers, the process used to convert their current Android and/or iOS apps to be compatible with HMS requires just a few tweaks to their coding. The great thing about AppGallery is that its app inventory is growing faster than any other competitor’s platform.

One feature that makes transferring to a new HMS-only Huawei smartphone completely hassle-free is the Phone Clone app. Simply put, this app allows you to download all of your apps and data from your old phone onto your new Huawei smartphone. Crucially, this means that you won’t lose any of your current favourite apps that are not available on Huawei’s AppGallery, such as Facebook and WhatsApp.

A feature helping with the rapid growth of AppGallery is the ‘Wish List’ request functionality. With this, users can find apps that are currently unavailable on Huawei’s AppGallery, then add them to their ‘Wish List’. Following this, the most desired apps by Huawei’s users will be prioritised to be added to the platform. Once a user’s favourite app is added, they will be notified, and the app will be automatically downloaded onto their smartphone in the background, ready to use immediately.

Huawei HMS Hardware & Software Integration

Benefits to Come From All of This

Although the US ban sounds like mostly bad news for Huawei, this is not necessarily the case. With the increased development of HMS by Huawei, they are acquiring more top-down control of its hardware and software. Because of this, Huawei can better optimise all of its products’ parts to work more efficiently with their software. An example of this is their Kirin chipsets. Currently, Huawei’s processors are forced to work on Android software, which is controlled by Google. This results in reduced performance and efficiency, since Google updates its software based on its own needs and goals, leaving other manufacturers struggling to adapt to the unexpected changes. This reduced fragmentation by gradually leaving the Android ecosystem means that Huawei is on track to operate more like how Apple currently operates, designing its own hardware, built precisely for its own software.

The End Goal

HMS is not a replacement for Android at the moment. All of Huawei’s smartphones currently on sale run Google’s Android software. Eventually; however, HMS Android will be replaced by a fully-featured Harmony OS – built for Huawei, by Huawei.

Huawei’s overall aim of releasing Harmony OS also includes its idea of being a ‘distributed operating system’. This means that Harmony OS will be an incredibly diverse and vast ecosystem, not only encompassing smartphones and tablets, but also laptops, kitchen appliances, and even cars, creating a seamless, interconnected ecosystem.

I=Huawei HMS Interconnected Ecosystem

Current Smartphone Line-up

From the current Huawei line-up on, it is only the newest flagships from 2020, the P40 and P40 Pro, that lack GMS capabilities. This means that the most popular P30 Series smartphones and the ultra-affordable P Smart+ 2019 retain their access to Google’s mobile services.

Get the Huawei P Smart+ 2019 for only £179.99 here

Get the Huawei P30 Pro with Google Services from just £479.99 here

Get the flagship Huawei P40 Pro running HMS for £899.99 here

Have any questions? We have additional information & FAQs here

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