Huawei Petal Search

Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Petal Search started out as a workaround for Huawei customers to find and install apps in the absence of Google services like the Play Store. But it’s quickly turning into a much bigger project. Scouring the web for official APKs has taught Huawei a lot about web crawling and indexing, so much so that it’s expanding Petal Search to act much more like a general search engine. Banning Huawei from using Google seems to have only spurred the company to fill in the gaps itself.

Petal Search now supports news, image and video, shopping, and flight searches directly from the search bar, at least for some users. Speaking at the Huawei Developer Conference, the company also announced a number of key search partners. These partners span four key search categories: news, shopping, local businesses, and travel. Companies can plug their results into Petal Search through a growing set of APIs.

Huawei, just like other search providers, relies on partners to provide aggregated results. These include direct feeds for shopping results or real-time data streams such as flight seats and price information via plugin APIs. Having regional partners on board is also key for providing local business listings.

Huawei is already using its own crawling and indexing engine to find results in Spain and Turkey, so the company has the capabilities to operate as a proper Google or Bing rival — at least on mobile. Petal Search still relies on other search engine partners in other countries but plans to roll out its own service in gradual steps. There’s no timeline yet, as Huawei says quality comes first, and will keep using partners across different regions if their services produce the best results.

You’re not alone if these features sound like the sort of thing ripe for OS and smart assistant integration. Petal Search already has a few entry points into Huawei’s EMUI Android software. For example, EMUI 11‘s pull-down web search integrates Petal Search, so you don’t have to use the app or search bar widget. Huawei is also looking to build in integrations with its Celia assistant in the future but hasn’t given a timeframe yet.

Petal Search is only four months old but has already quickly transformed from a stopgap solution into an increasingly functional general search engine. There’s still a way to go before Huawei has a search set up powerful enough to rival Google’s, but the foundations are there. If you have a chance to play with the new Petal Search features, let us know what you think of them in the comments below.

Read more: Hands-on with EMUI 11: Still working through the Google divorce

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