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Huawei to lose access to Android and Google apps update soon, the effects of Trump trade ban

May 21, 2019

May 22: The U.S. Commerce Department has granted a temporary license for Huawei, restoring its ability to operate existing networks and provide software updates to devices.

The temporary general license is specifically aimed at letting Huawei support existing customers and devices, rather than continue development of future products using the software, technology or components from U.S. companies. The license is set to run until August 19, 2019, buying Huawei time to operate somewhat normally and ease the burden on consumers and businesses that currently work with Huawei.

Details are not yet fully available, but the expectation is that this temporary license would not allow Huawei too, for example, work with companies like Google on future versions of Android or Qualcomm on future smartphones.

May 21: Huawei has furnished an official response, stating that it will continue to roll out security updates and after-sales service to all Huawei and Honor devices. The Honor 20 global launch is also scheduled to go through unchanged:

Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry.

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.

We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally.

Plus, nothing has changed for HONOR. We will be having our exciting launch event tomorrow in London for HONOR 20 Series.

What exactly is Google doing?

Google has put gears in motion to stop working with Huawei on future Android updates and device certifications, complying with the executive order and subsequent U.S. Commerce Department blacklist, on which Huawei and 68 of its subsidiaries were placed last week. The ban was enacted when Huawei was placed on a so-called Entity List, which bars the company from purchasing equipment from U.S. companies without prior government approval, something the Commerce Department is unlikely to give in the near future. The Trump administration has accused Huawei of working with the Communist Party of China to undermine international networks by potentially installing backdoors in network equipment. No proof of such vulnerabilities has been made public.

As the Washington-Beijing trade war intensifies along with fresh restrictions on Chinese telecom giant Huawei in the US, there has been a significant rise in “Boycott Apple” movement in China. According to BuzzFeed News, there has been a flurry of anti-Apple and anti-Trump messages on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. China has urged the US to stop “harassing overseas companies” and slammed US President Donald Trump’s decision to sign a national emergency order that prohibits American firms from using foreign-made equipment, citing espionage fears.

Just over 49%, of Huawei’s smartphone shipments in the first quarter of 2019 were to international markets outside of mainland China, according to Canalys. Huawei was the second-largest smartphone maker by global market share in the first quarter. The company has previously laid out its ambitions to become the top player in smartphones by 2020. But the latest move by Google could put a dent in that.

Because of the trade ban, companies like Google, Qualcomm, Intel, and NVIDIA are not allowed to sell or make deals with companies on the Entity List; Huawei relies on Google for access to the closed portions of Android, as well as its Play Services suite, which must be approved for every phone a manufacturer releases. According to Reuters, Google won’t retroactively remove Play Services support for existing phones, but it will no longer provide software updates for them, and it won’t certify new phones. Huawei already released a list of phones to be updated to Android Q, but it’s unclear whether those devices will receive it once it’s released to the public later this summer

Huawei isn’t barred from using Android’s open-source components, which are freely available to any organization so long as they abide by the licensing terms. Huawei uses Android’s open source libraries, also known as AOSP, to build EMUI’s core codebase as well as release updates to its phones in China, where Google services are not available.

So what is the alternative?

In a BBC interview, Huawei told that they would prefer to work with Android, but has created a new operating system as a Plan B

“We have been making plans for this possible outcome – but it hasn’t happened yet, We have a parallel programme in place to develop an alternative… which we think will delight our customers. In the short-term, it’s not good news for Huawei, but I think we can manage that. In China, that might not be too disruptive a move, thanks to the fact that device-owners spend much of their time within WeChat – a platform that allows third-party apps to run within it.” – Jeremy Thompson, Huawei’s UK executive vice president said.

Furthermore, other developers are likely to be put under pressure to quickly release versions of their stand-alone apps for the new operating system. But elsewhere the move could be highly problematic.

“Whatever they have cooked up is dead in the water, The critical part of success with a mobile OS is the number of apps available on the market. And besides Apple’s iOS, Android has the biggest developer platform.” claimed Mishaal Rahman, editor-in-chief of the news site

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