Huawei’s 2020 flagship phone series, the P40 line, suffers from the ongoing effects of the US government’s trade ban, which means alternatives to Google apps like the new HERE WeGo mapping service, are welcome additions.
The US ban has been dragging Huawei down for at least a year at this point, with 2019’s Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro being the first of the company’s smartphones to exhibit the effects of the block. No direct access or support for Google Mobile Services (GMS) means users are forced to find workarounds if they still want a taste of Google on a current-generation Huawei phone. That or they have to settle off-brand alternatives – but which ones?
An issue which Huawei is currently addressing is the state of its answer to Google’s Play Store, the App Gallery. As highlighted in our Huawei P40 and P40 Pro reviews, the App Gallery has clearly received some extra attention in recent months, with a swathe of new apps that appeal and cater to a more global audience (rather than just users in Huawei’s native market of China), but progress is slow.
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One of the most obvious omissions on these latest GMS-free Huawei phones is the lack of any native mapping service. Huawei confirmed around the launch of this year’s P40 Series that it had partnered with mapping experts TomTom to fill this void, but no such app or service has yet appeared.
In the meantime, users have had to rely on either side-loading a broken version of Google Maps or turning to the App Gallery’s own ‘Navigation’ category.
While offline maps specialists MAPS.ME sits pretty at the top of the App Gallery’s navigation app lineup, the arrival of the world’s second-largest mapping service after Google Maps is unquestionably confidence-inducing.
The app, which is listed on the App Gallery as ‘HERE WeGo – City Navigation’ not only offers basic navigation but includes public transit support for over 1300 cities worldwide, including New York City, London and Sydney, as well as offline maps support, live traffic information and integrated taxi booking services.
Despite hitting the App Gallery on 22 April, you’ll have to search for it if you want to download it, as it presently sits at the very bottom of the Navigation category, perhaps as a result of its relative newness to the App Gallery.
While Google Maps is the go-to mapping option for most Android users (and many iOS users), the HERE WeGo – City Navigation is already available on the Play Store, with over 10 million downloads to its name.
The arrival of Here on the App Gallery goes some small way to softening the blow of the US government’s trade bad, but there’s still a huge amount of work to be done if Huawei wants its phones to be seen as truly competitive alternatives to other Android devices and the iPhone once more.