Huawei smartphone and tablet owners are being left in a difficult position following US sanctions banning American companies from providing any technologies to the company.All of Huawei’s smartphone devices run on the Android operating system, which is principally developed by Google, and its tablets are based on Windows 10.
A decision by the White House to place Huawei on an export blacklist means that Google needs the US government’s permission before licensing Android to the company. Microsoft has not yet issued a statement.
Google apps and services will not feature on future Huawei phones
:: What happens to my Huawei device now?Immediately, all Huawei devices will continue to function as normal – but there are dangers they could miss out on security updates in the future.
Google has confirmed its Google Play store and the security protections provided by Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices.
While these protections will ensure that apps can continue to be updated, they will not see any updates to the operating system itself.
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The big impact is going to be on the company’s newest phones and tablets.
:: What happens to Huawei devices in the future?As Google is banned from letting Huawei use a licensed version of Android, the company would be limited to the open-source version of the operating system.While this stripped-down OS won’t cost the company any money, it also lacks access to Google’s security protections as received by other large smartphone manufacturers including Samsung and LG.
:: Listen to the New Lines podcast on Apple podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, SpreakerThis could leave the company at a competitive disadvantage to its competitors, although it had been gaining ground over recent years.In a statement, Huawei said it will “continue to provide security updates and after sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those have been sold or still in stock globally” however it did not say what it will do about future products.
Google develops Android
:: What’s Huawei going to do this about this?The company has a number of options. It could commit to developing new services to replace those provided by Google under license for the open-source version of Android.Huawei’s chief executive of the consumer division claimed the company had been preparing for a potential blacklisting in the US.In an interview with German newspaper Die Welt, Richard Yu said that Huawei preferred to work with Google and Microsoft rather than go to their “plan b” move.It could develop its own mobile operating system, but this would not enable it to access Google apps including Gmail and YouTube – something which could push consumers towards its rivals.Charlie Dai, principal analyst at Forrester’s, said that Google’s move would have a “critical impact toward Huawei’s business around smart phones”.”Huawei has its own mobile OS as a backup, but it’s not fully ready yet and it’s very difficult to build up the ecosystem as what Huawei has been doing on Android,” Mr Dai added.”Eventually it’s no good toward consumers around the world, and it’s a pity that customer value facilitated by open-source spirit is now ruined by the politics.”
:: Is this because Huawei phones are a security concern?Huawei’s close ties to the Chinese government and army have prompted a lot of concerns about whether the company could be used by Beijing for spying purposes, but these concerns have mostly focused on its employees and its networking equipment – not its consumer devices.Network switches, gateways, routers, and bridges – the kit that controls how and where data is sent – is what Huawei really does.These core infrastructure devices touch everything traversing the internet and are critical to it functioning properly – and this equipment is what is being considered a security concern.Other than in the US, where federal employees are not allowed to own Huawei smartphones, there have not been any unusual concerns about Huawei’s consumer devices.
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