Huawei built an app to help people sideload popular Android apps

Steve Dent
Associate Editor
Engadget

Huawei is still building great smartphones like the Mate 30, but it's hard to convince people to buy one without access to Google apps. However, it's apparently working on a way to get popular Android applications without an app store or the need to download APKs, according to XDA Developers. It has created an app called "AppSearch," currently being tested in Germany, to help users install popular apps like Facebook and WhatsApp.

According to a description in the app, it could be used with the "Mate 30 series, P40 series and Mate X's." With the P40 set to go on sale soon, the app could be officially released with the launch of that phone. Sales of the Mate 30 outside of China were very slow, so Huawei is no doubt trying anything to boost the P40.

An XDA contributor in Germany sideloaded the app to his Huawei Mate 30 Pro to show how it works. According to Huawei's description, you can download AppSearch from Huawei's AppGallery store. From there, it displays popular apps like Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Twitter, or lets you search for your app of choice.

Huawei AppSearch sideload apps Mate 30 P40

Max Weinbach/XDA Developers

However, AppSearch doesn't provide direct downloads, but sends you to a location where you can find them. Huawei explicitly states that it "assists users to find popular apps by consolidating multiple downloading sources [sic]. All the content accessible through [AppSearch] is provided by third parties. The content is the sole responsibility of the entity that makes it available." Those third parties include Amazon, APKPure, APKMirror and Huawei's own store, according to XDA.

Owners of the Mate 30 and other Huawei devices used to have a Google Play workaround via a dodgy app called LZ Play. After users pointed out its sketchy provenance, however, the app was pulled and Huawei disclaimed any involvement. That's possibly why Huawei is shunning any legal responsibility for AppSearch, even though it gives users an easy way to install Google apps.

Google is reportedly looking into the app anyway, according to Forbes, to make sure it doesn't violate US laws. AppSearch is available on Huawei's German website, but a video describing how to use it has apparently been pulled back to "private" since the XDA article was published.