THE Mobile World Congress, the mobile telecom industry’s largest and most anticipated trade show, was canceled due to ongoing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. Originally scheduled this week, from February 24 to 27, in Barcelona, Spain, the MWC typically attracts 100,000 representatives from technology companies, carriers and government. It is the latest blow to the tech industry, and is expected to cost the City of Barcelona around $500 million in economic activity.
Prior to the official announcement of the cancellation, the GSMA, which organizes the annual event, was providing near-daily updates about implementing strict travel and hygiene protocols for attendees, but they eventually folded when it realized it was not going to be able to provide a reasonable solution.
It would have been my first MWC, but I was actually more hesitant than excited, and was having second thoughts about even applying for a visa. I guess a lot of people felt the same and the risk was just too great. Well, there’s always next year.
MWC is where the top brands make their big announcements, and the tech media eagerly anticipate the reveal of several highly anticipated devices. Among the products that were supposed to be revealed at this year’s MWC include the Samsung Galaxy A Series; the Sony Xperia 2 and Sony Xperia 5 Plus; Nokia 8.2 5G, Nokia 4.3 and Nokia 5.2; Motorola’s flagship called the Edge Plus; and, of course, the latest smartphones from the Chinese giants: Huawei’s Mate Xs, Honor’s View30 Pro and 9X Pro; the Oppo Find X2; Vivo Apex 2020; and Xiaomi’s Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro (although it has already been launched in China last week).
For these companies, with or without MWC, the show must go on and we can expect them to make their announcements via streamed events and smaller individual launches, and we will give you updates about these products in the coming weeks.
THE RISE OF THE APP GALLERY
STICKING to its February 24 schedule was Huawei, but instead of a packed auditorium hall, Huawei CEO Richard Yu made his presentation via live stream as the Philippine media watched from the Grand Hyatt Manila in Taguig. The company had been a tough and tricky 2019, despite holding on to the top 2 spot in global market share, with 240 million-plus units shipped and recording 16.8-percent year-on-year growth, as well as its rapid growth in the smart device segment, it couldn’t deny the effect of the Google ban.
That’s why I think the most interesting announcement Huawei made that night, more than the Mate Xs, MatePad Pro and new MateBooks, was the focus on its own AppGallery.
The AppGallery is Huawei’s official app distribution platform, much like the Google Play Store. It is not actually new as it already came preinstalled with the P20 Series a couple of years ago. But because of the Google ban, the AppGallery now becomes the primary source of apps for Huawei users, which is why the company has been investing billions of dollars to make it robust and safe to use.
To cultivate a full-fledged ecosystem that will support its devices, Huawei is gradually opening up its chip-device-cloud capabilities to global developers through Huawei Mobile Services. Currently in its fourth iteration, HMS Core is a collection of tools made for Huawei’s partners and app developers to create unique, new experiences that tap into the full hardware and software capabilities Huawei devices have on offer. The company’s vision is to make the AppGallery an open, innovative app distribution platform that is accessible to consumers. Huawei claims it is already the third-biggest app marketplace globally, available in over 170 countries/regions with 400 million monthly active users.
The AppGallery segments applications across 18 categories, including news, social media, entertainment and more, all searchable with a simple and smooth browsing experience. I have been mainly using the AppGallery on my Huawei Mate 30 Pro and although it’s still a work in progress, that progress has been very fast with a lot of new apps being added almost weekly. Itis clear that Huawei is continuously working on increasing the selection that have become a staple of its users’ digital lifestyle, including both popular global applications and quality localized applications.
Among the local apps you can find at the AppGallery, includes PayMaya, BDO, ClickTheCity, Philippine Airlines, Shopee, Lazada, Carousell, Owto and even government apps, like the SSS mobile app, with more coming in the next few weeks and months. If there’s an app users can’t find, all you have to do is submit the desired app name to a “Wishlist.” Once this app goes on shelf, the user who submitted it via Wishlist will be notified.
One of the best things about the AppGallery is that it’s optimized to work on Huawei devices, providing on-device capability. The key enabler is Huawei HiAI, an open AI capability platform for smart devices, which pools software and hardware resources from different devices, and facilitates collaborative, mutually reinforcing interactions between them. For example, the WPS Office app uses the HiAI intelligent recognition capability to achieve super-resolution optical character recognition to recognise text in images, such as scanned documents and photos.
Another interesting thing to look forward to is the tap-to-use and installation-free experience called Quick Apps. Quick Apps is an app ecosystem that houses a new type of installation-free apps. It provides a good user experience, powerful functions and automatic updates for HTML5 pages, but consumes very little memory space. Despite giving users the same experience as native apps, Quick Apps are written with only one-fifth the amount of code as compared to that of Android apps, therefore, taking up less memory space. Users can accommodate more than 2,000 Quick Apps instead of just 20 native apps with just 1GB of space. To keep up the pace with 5G, Quick App will be gradually rolled out to more countries and regions, opening the China market’s mature Quick App standards and IDE development tools to global developers.
AppGallery comes with full-cycle security and protection, including developer real-name verification and four-step review process for secure app operation. All apps go through a stringent verification test to prevent developers’ apps from malicious activity. It has an age-rating system to create a safe environment for children, filtering out apps that are not suitable for their age range.
It deploys the highest level of verification to isolate and protect users’ sensitive data and privacy. Personally-sensitive information—such as biometric data—will never be processed outside the Huawei device, giving the user complete control over their personal data. EMUI lets users have control over app user permission. More important, all user data is also anonymized and stored locally, corresponding to each user’s region.
“‘Privacy, under your control’ has always been at the heart of our philosophy,” said Yu.
“We place privacy protection and cyber security as the top priorities of all our business operations and strictly implement them in all phases of our products. We also have the strictest privacy and cyber-security solutions in the Huawei AppGallery.”
ALL-SCENARIO SEAMLESS A.I. LIFE
HUAWEI then revealed a series of new 5G products and strategy that demonstrate the full capabilities of its all-scenario ecosystem.
The key products include: Huawei Mate Xs, an evolution of the foldable device featuring cutting-edge hardware and software; Huawei MatePad Pro 5G, a flagship 5G tablet that offers a premium all-scenario experience; and Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 and Huawei 5G CPE Pro 2, two Wi-Fi 6+ enabled connectivity solutions that offer high-speed, pervasive connectivity to consumers.
In addition, Huawei also unveiled a range of new Huawei MateBook laptops. Powered by the 10th Generation Intel Core processors and Windows 10, the latest FullView laptops transform the mobile office experience with revolutionary productivity features, such as Huawei Share and Multi-Screen Collaboration.
Representing the next evolution of the foldable form factor, the Huawei Mate Xs delivers an improved user experience with a new flexible display manufactured with novel materials and a new hinge to realize the signature Falcon Wing design.
Equipped with Huawei’s self-developed flagship 5G SoC Kirin 990 5G, the Huawei Mate Xs is a complete upgrade featuring improved mobile AI and 5G communications capabilities.
The Leica SuperSensing Quad Camera makes a return on the Huawei Mate Xs. Comprised of a 40MP SuperSensing camera, a 16MP ultra wide-angle camera, an 8MP telephoto camera and a 3D Depth Sensing camera, the powerful Leica camera system takes full advantage of the foldable form factor, playing the role of both front and rear cameras to support wide range of photographic use cases.
The MatePad Pro 5G tablet, on the other hand, is designed to synergize with Huawei handsets, wearables and other devices. The Huawei MatePad Pro 5G features a 10.8-inch HD display with support for the cinema-grade DCI-P3 color gamut.
With ultra-thin bezels, it has the world’s highest tablet screen-to-body ratio at 90 percent. Embedded in the body of the lightweight tablet, the Kirin 990 5G SoC supports outstanding 5G connectivity while delivering high performance and power efficiency.
Running EMUI 10, the Huawei MatePad Pro can be connected to other Huawei smartphones through the Huawei Share and Multi-Screen Collaboration feature. Once a connection is established, users can navigate and control both devices on the tablet’s display.
Multi-screen collaboration also enables drag-and-drop file transfers between smartphones and tablets. Peripheral sharing lets users type on the smartphone using the tablet’s keyboard and screen, play music saved on the smartphone with the tablet’s speakers and more.
The Huawei MatePad Pro 5G can be paired with the Huawei M-Pencil, which supports 4,096 pressure sensitive levels to deliver a natural and intuitive writing experience. The Huawei Notepad natively supports the Huawei stylus with a new Screen-Off Shorthand feature, allowing users to capture their inspiration whenever it strikes.
The Chinese giant also announced the latest Huawei MateBook models during the event. The upgraded Huawei MateBook X Pro is powered by the 10th Generation Intel Core processor. Available in a new Emerald Green colorway, the latest premium laptop retains the FullView Display design to achieve a screen-to-body ratio of 91 percent.
Meanwhile, the new Huawei MateBook D Series joins the Huawei MateBook family as a PC targeting younger consumers, offering an innovative smart experience in a design that is signature to the MateBook series.
The article first appeared on The Technivore at Business Mirror on February 29, 2020 As COVID-19 kills MWC, Huawei streams launch of APP Gallery, new 5G devices