Outside China, Android isnt Android without Google – The Verge

Posted: March 30, 2020 at 7:55 am

The tech story that made the biggest impact on me yesterday was Sam Byfords Living a Google-free life with a Huawei phone. In the run up to the launch of Huaweis new flagship P40 line, he got himself a Mate 30 Pro and used it to see what Android is like sans Google. This is, of course, something untold millions of people in China do every day, but outside China Huawei falls in a weird zone where it doesnt have its local China services nor Google services.

The result, as Sam writes, is weird. But what struck me the most is how essential Google Mobile Services (GMS) are to the functioning of every modern Android phone outside of China. You might already expect that not having Gmail, Chrome, and the Play Store would be annoying but the fact that so many non-Google apps dont work was a bit of a shock.

GMS and Google Play Services have slowly grown to become essential parts of how an Android phone works. Theyre how the web engine gets updated, theyre increasingly how the operating system itself gets updated (via Project Mainline), and they protect against malware even for apps you dont load from the official Google Play Store.

They also offer lots of services to developers, and thats the part thats easy to forget. Googles services offer push notifications, location, casting, ad support, and much more. Huawei has been building out its own services and store to deal with life away from Google, but the situation right now is that the Mate 30 Pro doesnt even ship with a viable maps app. Android may be open source, but an Android phone doesnt really operate without Google at least outside of China.

None of this is especially shocking or even nefarious, its just something that isnt in your face every day. Other operating systems like Windows and iOS are equally tied up with the company that makes them, which is a point so obvious that pointing it out in the first place seems silly. But with Android, its worth remembering.

Well have lots of coverage of Huaweis new P40 series today, so look forward to that. For what its worth, Huawei has said it would come back to the US if it could, but that seems unlikely in the near future. Also, thanks to everybody who emailed me today with their thoughts on the iPad Ill try to reply personally to everybody but itll take a bit.

Google Podcasts rolls out new design, launches on iOS. Looks like a huge upgrade, and availability on iOS makes it more appealing to people who need to be on multiple platforms. But the cross-platform king of podcast apps remains Pocket Casts, in my opinion. Its also the rare app that is excellent on every platform I use it on, from CarPlay to the web to Android to smart displays. Plus, its not owned and operated by a giant tech company! (Though to be fair NPR aint small.)

Royole claims the FlexPai 2 fixes the problems of its rough first foldable. I love that Royole is just going for it with another foldable phone and promising this one wont be a cringey mess like the first. I do wonder why the display is branded Cicada Wing, though. Apparently theyre good at repelling water and self-cleaning? The wings I mean, not this screen.

Samsungs new Galaxy Tab A offers LTE connectivity. Im not sure Id recommend this over an iPad to anybody, but its inexpensive and gives you an LTE option if you want that.

Samsungs S10 and Note 10 are getting updated with the S20s best camera features.

Dell now lets you control iPhones from its PCs. Its legit amazing that Dell does this and the Mac does not. Im sure people will turn their nose up at it, but using the Your Phone app on Windows 10 has me convinced that its a good idea. There are still going to be bugs and such, but I hope theres continued investment in this kind of software from multiple companies.

Qualcomms latest chips could make noise cancellation standard on new wireless earbuds.

SpaceX is making its own hand sanitizer and building face shields to donate to fight coronavirus.

Apple says customers must wait to pick up repairs locked inside its retail stores. Heres an idea that sounds easy and is easy to recommend because Im not Apple: why not offer loaner devices to these people? I am guessing Apple could afford to! Like I said, probably harder and more expensive than I would guess, but it would suck to be stuck in a lurch without a computer. Maybe I just feel this particularly pointedly because the N key on my MacBook Pro is about to die.

I, like seemingly everybody else I follow, am playing a bunch of Animal Crossing. If you are too, we have a lovely set of stories that are both useful and entertaining. If you want a full-on guide, Polygons is quite comprehensive. Im also playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider and its kind of an overloaded, overwhelming collect-the-map game.

If youre looking for something to play, my advice is to check out our best games of 2020. Our team is keeping this page updated throughout the year. Bookmark it!

How to watch movies with friends online. Aliya Chaudhry goes over all the major options. There are a bunch, and some of them work with multiple video services.

Fox will broadcast NASCARs substitute sim racing season on television. Sean OKane is going to get me into NASCAR, isnt he? I have gone to one NASCAR race and I deeply loved it, but there are only so many things I can afford to keep track of. But this looks joyful and fun.

One reason it was possible for the motorsports world to quickly flip this switch to sim racing is that theres been a thriving community competing on these platforms for years. Sim racing has grown so prevalent that many pro drivers are already deeply familiar with the likes of iRacing. Most have sim racing rigs a seat, steering wheel, pedals, and giant, often wraparound monitors set up in their homes, or at the very least, at their teams headquarters.

CBS All Access is offering a free one-month trial, just in time to binge Star Trek: Picard.

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Outside China, Android isnt Android without Google - The Verge

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