Google has issued a warning against downloading its apps (or any app) outside of the “safe” Play Store environment and installing them on new Huawei phones. And of course, they’re right – up to a point.
The warning is part of a letter from Google to users (via 9to5google) written by Google Legal Director for the Play Store Tristan Ostrowski. In it, he clarified the Mountain View company’s position on the Huawei ban, which prohibits companies like Google from installing its products on Huawei products.
Huawei has been accused by the US government of being primarily a spy agent for the Chinese government. Huawei has been banned from selling its phones in the United States, and American companies have been ordered not to collaborate in any way with Huawei except to support products shipped before the ban.
Google is giving a stern warning that essentially tells Huawei and all Android users that “you won’t be using apps from anywhere other than the Google Play Store or you will be smashed to pieces.”
What is side loading?
First, let’s clarify what Side loading means for the uninitiated.
In general terms, this means downloading an app installation package (called APK) and opening it on your Android phone to install the app.
Using this practice, any user can use any app, even if they don’t have permission to use the Play Store. If you want to install Gmail, you can go to a site, download the Gmail APK, install it and use it.
However, if you download an APK online, you might open yourself up to malware.
Ironically, the Google Play Store has hosted many malicious apps on multiple occasions. And the Google Play Protect tool has proven to not protect its users very well.
Can I trust anyone to load side apps?
APKMirror is perhaps the most popular and trusted of all the repository sites. It is operated by the Android Police website. I have used them a few times and never encountered a problem.
Here’s what the APK says in its FAQs about how they verify all app packages are safe:
“All APKMirror.com downloads are verified before posting.
We make sure that the crypto signatures for new versions of all previously released apps match the original ones, which means we know if any downloaded APKs were signed by the real developers or by someone claiming to be them. . Note: APKMirror.com has been protected against Janus vulnerability in Android from day one. “
Again, you still have to be careful, but if you have a Huawei phone and want to load up Google’s apps, this might be the way to go.