What Huawei’s restricted access to Android means for users

Huawei will only be able to use the public version of Android, available through the Android Open Source Project, and will not be able to access Google’s proprietary apps and services. — Reuters pic
Huawei will only be able to use the public version of Android, available through the Android Open Source Project, and will not be able to access Google’s proprietary apps and services. — Reuters pic

SINGAPORE, May 21 — On Sunday , Google said that it would be barring Chinese tech firm Huawei from updates on the Android operating system.

We take a look at how current and future users of Huawei devices will be affected, and why this restriction is happening.

How will existing Huawei users be affected?

While this announcement might worry current Huawei users who are not residing in China, the American firm has confirmed that they have little to worry about for now.

Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices, a Google spokesperson told Reuters.

However, Huawei will only be able to use the public version of Android, available through the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), and will not be able to have access to Google’s proprietary apps and services, reported Reuters, quoting a source.

Future versions of Huawei smartphones that run on Android will lose access to popular services, including the Google Play Store and Gmail and YouTube apps.

Huawei told Reuters yesterday that it would continue to provide security updates and services for its smartphones and tablets.

“Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally,” a Huawei spokesman said.

Google’s restriction will have minimal impact in China, where most Google mobile apps are banned.

How about future Huawei users?

Future Huawei devices may no longer have Google apps such as YouTube, Maps and Gmail.

These are available through Google’s Play Store and are not covered by the open source licence.

Huawei, however, has said it has a contingency plan by way of a proprietary operating system for smartphones and computers, should it be blocked from using Android.

Why is this happening?

Huawei is the world's largest supplier of telecommunications network equipment and second-biggest maker of smartphones

US President Donald Trump recently told Fox News that he was “very happy” with the trade war with China, and that he was not going to let it become the world’s “top superpower” under his watch.

Part of this plan saw him raising tariffs on Chinese goods, putting Huawei Technologies Co and over 70 affiliates on a blacklist on Thursday, which curtailed the Chinese telecom giant’s access to key American suppliers without government approval. Chief among them is Alphabet Inc’s Google.

Trump also signed an executive order barring US companies from using telecommunications equipment made by firms deemed to pose a national security risk.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the ministry would pay attention to developments.

“At the same time, China supports Chinese companies to use legal weapons to defend their legitimate rights,” he added, but did not elaborate.

Last Friday, the US Commerce Department said it may ease some restrictions on Huawei by issuing a temporary, 90-day general licence that gives companies time to ensure that their communications networks and equipment are operating reliably. — TODAY

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