Mysterious Google App Installer for Huawei Mate 30 Has Already Vanished
As a consequence of Huawei’s dispute with the US government, the company announced its latest flagship phone without Google apps. The Mate 30 Pro still runs Android, but it was unclear how easy it would be to manually install apps like Gmail and Google Maps. An app called LZPlay appeared online several days ago that made the process easy — too easy, as it turns out. LZPlay and its website have vanished after developers began asking questions about how the app worked its Google-installing magic.
For Google’s apps and services to run correctly on a phone, they need to be installed in the system partition, which is protected on all new phones. Some Chinese OEMs include apps to sideload Google apps un un-certified devices, but the Mate 30 Pro is in an even worse place. Huawei can’t have any Google code on its phone, so it doesn’t even include the system “stubs” for Google Mobile Services (GMS) that make it possible to install the apps yourself.
Thus, Huawei fans were relieved when LZPlay appeared recently. It could install GMS packages on the Mate 30 Pro without rooting or unlocking the bootloader, both of which require security workarounds. So, problem solved? Not so fast. Developer John Wu took a closer look at the LZPlay installer, finding evidence of powerful Huawei-certified features.
All Android devices have an option to set apps as administrators, allowing them to access protected system functions like setting lock screen rules and remote wiping. Huawei’s admin mode includes a few undocumented custom APIs like “MDM_INSTALL_SYS_APP” and “MDM_INSTALL_UNDETACHABLE_APP.” Those are the APIs LZPlay uses to get Google apps running correctly on the Mate 30 Pro. Only apps signed with Huawei’s keys can access these functions. That strongly implies that Huawei itself either developed or supported the development of this app, and that could add to its legal issues.
Shortly after the likely Huawei connection came out, the website hosting LZPlay went offline. Around the same time, Google removed the Mate 30 Pro from its certification whitelist, adding yet another roadblock for anyone hoping to install GMS on that phone. There’s no evidence Google had anything to do with LZPlay, but someone probably realized how it looked to specifically allow the Mate 30 Pro to act like a certified device when it isn’t.
So, the Mate 30 Pro is in a rough spot. It’ll never have broad appeal without GMS, and it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon.