Huawei is trying to replicate Apple’s ecosystem

OPINION: Apple’s line of Macs was incredibly popular even before Apple Silicon chips outperformed. One of the main reasons for this is the ecosystem created by Apple, which allows its different products to sync with each other for a streamlined experience.

For example, if you have both an iPad and a MacBook, you can take advantage of the Sidecar feature, which allows you to use the Apple tablet as a second display for your PC—without having to connect any cables. There are many other similar features as well, including AirDrop, Handoff, and the universal clipboard.

It’s a clever strategy by Apple because by ensuring seamless communication between devices like the iPhone, iPad and Mac, it offers a clear incentive for customers to stay loyal to the brand. And most importantly, it’s a strength that other laptop makers have struggled to emulate.

That’s mainly because almost every other laptop manufacturer uses either Windows or ChromeOS, and thus can’t offer the same level of software support as Apple — and companies like Acer, Dell, and HP don’t even sell smartphones to support such an ecosystem create .

iPadOS macOS Sidecar Apple Pencil
Apple’s Sidecar feature is very useful for connecting to use an iPad as a second display

But these obstacles didn’t stop Huawei. Arguably better known for its smartphones, the Chinese company is a relative newcomer to the PC market, having only launched its very first MateBook laptop in 2017.

Despite its recent appearance on the market, Huawei already has an impressive variety in its PC portfolio. The company recently launched a 16-inch laptop (MateBook 16), a 2-in-1 laptop/tablet hybrid (MateBook E), an all-in-one desktop PC (MateStation X), and even an E -Ink tablet (MatePad Paper) launched. One could argue that Huawei’s PC range is even more diverse than Apple’s Mac range.

Huawei is also one of the few major laptop manufacturers that has a huge portfolio of devices that go beyond computers. You have smartphones, tablets, and even wearables, all running Huawei’s own EMUI software. However, the big problem here is that its PC devices use Windows instead of its own proprietary software. That makes it a little harder to get every device to sing the same anthem tune like Apple does with its iPhones, iPads, and Macs.

Huawei Matebook e 2 Oled screen supports a stylus
MateBook E

Instead, Huawei has developed a software solution called Super Device. This allows all of Huawei’s different devices to communicate with each other through a simple drag-and-drop system, regardless of the operating system used.

I was invited to Huawei’s London office last week where the company was demonstrating Super Device technology. First, they’ve synced the MateBook E with a MateBook 16, so when you start drawing on the tablet with a stylus, the annotations automatically appear on the MateBook 16’s larger 16-inch screen, allowing more people to admire your artwork .

Huawei also showed an example of how a Word document was emailed to the MateStation X desktop PC and then transferred to the MatePad Paper, allowing changes to be made with a pen instead of a keyboard and mouse.

And if you have a Huawei smartphone, you can mirror its screen to a MateBook laptop, easily transfer data like photos, and switch your phone’s video call to the PC screen for easier multitasking. I was really impressed with how much functionality the Super Device technology allows, and that’s arguably the main reason I would consider buying a Huawei MateBook over a Dell XPS or Microsoft Surface laptop in the future.

Huawei super device
Huawei’s Super Device technology in action

I sat down with Andreas Zimmer, Huawei’s product lead for Western Europe, to discuss Super Device in more detail.

“The world is full of standards like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but interfacing with the standard itself isn’t usually that easy,” he explained. “So we’re trying to think about how we can make the process of connecting multiple devices together as easy and intuitive as possible?”

“We’ve found that drag and drop is one of the things that people are most familiar with. So we thought, okay, why not use this drag-and-drop concept to simplify the whole process of pairing devices with each other. […] But the ultimate goal is to have this work in every scenario. Even for small niche scenarios that some users might have.”

“This will take more time to fully penetrate each final corner, but with Super Device you can already see we’re almost there. We’ve gotten to the point where you can say it’s pretty seamless.”

Having used the technology in Huawei’s office, I’m definitely impressed. Huawei might not make the absolute best hardware when it comes to laptops and desktops, but Super Device is a great example of how important software can be.

The only caveat is that Super Device is currently only available if you own two or more Huawei devices. That’s arguably in the company’s best interests, as it encourages customers to stay loyal to the brand, just like Apple, although Zimmer has indicated that Huawei is open to talking to other companies about expanding support beyond MateBooks.

So, can Huawei replicate Apple’s success by emulating its excellent ecosystem? Personally, I have my doubts as Apple relies on the power of its brand to lure users into choosing its wide range of products. I think Huawei is not quite there yet, at least in the West after its smartphone backlash with the Google/Android ban.

But Huawei is clearly moving in the right direction, offering all the key strengths of Apple’s seamless software integration but with the added flexibility that Windows laptops offer. Personally, I’m excited to see what the brand does next as it’s a refreshing change for an industry obsessed with hardware specs.

Ctrl+Alt+Del is our weekly computing opinion column, where we delve deeper into the world of computers, laptops, components, peripherals and more. Find it on Trusted Reviews every Saturday afternoon. Huawei is trying to replicate Apple’s ecosystem

Chris Barrese

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