EMUI 5.0 beta on the Honor 8 — 5 reasons why this is one big step for Huawei and Honor
As you may know, Huawei and Honor has been pushing out beta versions of EMUI 5.0, which is their proprietary skin over Android 7.0 Nougat. I have just recently received the update to my device. If you have registered for the beta, you should also check whether you have an update available as you will receive it as an OTA update.
1. App drawer, HiBoard
Overall, one of the most anticipated changes to the user interface was the addition of an app drawer to the launcher. This is the very first time EMUI ever featured an app drawer, and also most probably one of very few Chinese manufacturers that gives you the option of having an app drawer in the stock launcher. The app drawer is basic, and sorts them in a pretty standard alphabetical way with no way of creating folders. However considering EMUI allows creating folders in it’s standard form without the app drawer, I believe this feature may come in an update pretty soon. Swiping to the left reveals the HiBoard, which offers a quick search bar, some app suggestions based on your frequently used apps, as well as news highlights powered by Flipboard.
2. Carded notification shade and multitasking menu
Also new is the notification shade, which goes for a carded look much more similar to vanilla Android. The quick settings is also accessible above the notification cards, once again being similar to vanilla Android’s implementation. You even get to reply to Whatsapp messages directly from the notification popup, how cool is that? However the row of quick settings visible when you have notifications cannot be swiped to the sides for more, which was quite disappointing in my opinion. The blurring of the background and the trashcan icon for quickly clearing notifications could also take a little work to make them look a little more professional, but still I am very grateful that Huawei took this path. The multitasking menu also looks like vanilla Android’s offering, which is definitely a lot more intuitive than the one previous generations of EMUI featured. The cards also feature a nifty little lock icon, allowing you to prevent your critical apps from being killed when you tap the trashcan icon to quickly clearing your RAM. And yes, I wish Huawei would toss that trashcan icon for something more professional-looking soon.
3. New look, added functionality
Unlike certain manufacturers which give you no clear reason to use their built-in apps over third party offerings, Huawei packed EMUI 5.0 with ones that do have an advantage over most third party app: a bar of shortcuts. While they may seem insignificant at first, not having to stretch your thumb to tap the menu button in the corners every time you want to change some settings is really quite convenient. They are available in most of the built-in apps, and is really quite a blessing. The UI of most of the apps are also refreshed to suit the general white-blue theme the rest of the UI features.
4. Camera plug-ins
The camera also receives a makeover in EMUI 5.0, with some slightly newer icons as well as the ability to remove certain “modes” which are now known as plug-ins. This allows you to delete plug-ins which you do not use to make more space for apps which you do, and also opens up the possibility of upcoming plug-ins to take advantage of the camera. While I am kinda disappointed to find that the Honor 8 has yet to receive a “true” monochrome plug-in, I believe in the community to make it available soon enough as a downloadable plug-in. Performance wise there doesn’t seem to be any major changes, as the camera is already plenty decent as it is. An instant HDR shortcut would have been preferable here too, and seems like a really great replacement to the audio control shortcut which I have not used even once during the one month period which I have used the Honor 8.
5. Dual Facebook and Whatsapp
If you use the dual-SIM functionality with your Honor 8, you may also be pleased to find out that with EMUI 5.0, you can be able to use two Whatsapp accounts. You can also use two Facebook accounts if you want to add yourself for to have more friends. Currently only Facebook and Whatsapp are supported, but since Instagram and Twitter both natively support multiple accounts, you should be well covered on the social media front.
I really like what Huawei did with EMUI 5.0. Not only are they one of the fastest to the line with the Android 7.0 Nougat (user beta, at least), they also took a massive leap to give us an UI that is vaguely reminiscent of what EMUI used to be, but a lot more like vanilla Android. In my books, looking more like vanilla Android scored Huawei tonnes of brownie points. My only true grouse with Huawei and Honor devices were EMUI, and now, it seems like I really have nothing to complain about. My Honor 8 is perfect… Oh wait, maybe after they change the trashcan icon.