Because the U.S. Commerce Department placed Huawei on the Entity List last year, Huawei cannot sign new Mobile Application Distribution Agreements (MADAs) with Google, which prevents Huawei from distributing new mobile devices with Google Mobile Services (GMS). This means that all new Huawei smartphones and tablets, at least ones that aren’t rebranded models of existing, already-certified devices, can’t ship with Google apps on board. This is problematic for Huawei because the vast majority of Android applications are distributed through the Google Play Store, so Huawei has had to beef up the catalog of apps in its own AppGallery app store. However, there are still many popular Android apps that aren’t available on AppGallery, which has forced users to install other app stores like Amazon or Aptoide or download APK files from hosting sites like APKMirror.
In order to make it easier for users to download popular applications without having to download additional app stores or sideload APKs from different websites, Huawei is developing an app called “AppSearch.” The app is currently being tested in Germany, and the APK is publicly accessible on the German website for the Huawei AppGallery. (The website’s name, “zukunftsversprechen,” roughly translates to “promise of the future,” which Huawei has used to market its commitment to its devices following the U.S. trade ban.) The landing page for AppSearch states that the app is intended to help users install their favorite apps on Huawei smartphones equipped with Huawei Mobile Services. Huawei lists Facebook and WhatsApp as examples of applications that can be downloaded by searching in AppSearch, and the description lists the “Mate30 series, P40 series, and Mate Xs” as examples of devices that this app is intended to be used on.
XDA Contributor Max Weinbach sideloaded the application on his Huawei Mate 30 Pro to share the following screenshots. As you can see, AppSearch (in German: “AppSuche”) provides an easy way for users to find popular apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Telegram, and much more, all in one place. The app lets you sort the list by popularity, alphabetically, or by categories. You can tap on an app to view a description and where it can be downloaded from. Note that AppSearch doesn’t actually provide direct downloads to any applications. In fact, the disclaimer in the app states that “ assists users to find popular Apps by consolidating multiple downloading sources. All the content accessible through [AppSearch] is provided by third parties. The content is the sole responsibility of the entity that makes it available.”
Examining the APK, we find that Huawei has created a massive list of apps that can be shown to the user. The list of “popular” apps depends on the region. The following regions are listed in the app:
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom
- United States
We find that AppSearch directs users to download apps from the following sources:
- Amazon App Store
- Huawei AppGallery
- Official website of the app (if one exists)
Here are the supported categories in AppSearch:
- Auto & Vehicles
- Books & Reference
- Food & Drink
- Maps & Navigation
- Music & Audio
- Travel & Local
- Video Players & Editors
Lastly, here is an unlisted YouTube video that Huawei embedded on the page for AppSearch. The video shows off the basic features of the application.