Huawei gets 90-day reprieve for Android ban

Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro
Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro

World's second largest smartphone manufacturer given breathing space

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21 May 2019 | 0

Huawei has been granted a 90-day reprieve by the US government after Google was ordered to remove its access to services on the Android mobile OS.

The bottom line is, nothing is changing right now. Your Huawei P30 Pro or Mate 20 will continue to function as normal, and you’ll be able to download, delete, and update apps as you’ve always been. There’s good reason to believe that the 90-day countdown will end in more of a compromise than an outright ban.

The US/China trade war has reached a stalemate and as a high-profile brand with limited presence in the US, Huawei makes a tempting target. However, Huawei is a valued partner to Google and any attempt to remove access to services like Gmail and the Play app store could prove disastrous for third party developers.

Removing the world’s second largest mobile phone manufacturer from the Google app ecosystem would be bad for American jobs and the tech sector globally but for the average user there is little to be worried about for the moment. Here are five reasons why.

Transitions take time

Instigating a universal ban, removing apps, search, and the Play Store from Huawei phones isn’t as easy as flipping a switch. Google’s services are intertwined into Android and Huawei’s EMUI skin. So Huawei phones will work the same today as it did yesterday and likely will for many months to come while the two companies work out how an Android world looks without Google.

Existing phones will likely be exempt

There’s a chance that phones that are already on the market will be exempt from the decision. Huawei has a contract with Google covering all of its phones, and it sold them to customers based on the inclusion of the Play Store and Google’s services, so lawyers and executives will need to come to an agreement. Until then, older Huawei phones will likely still receive security and app updates as they did before.

Huawei likely has a plan

Google’s move represents the so-called nuclear option, but given unspecified accusations of being involved in espionage Huawei had to anticipate that something like this could happen at some point. The company likely has several plans in place, including a ground-up redesign of its EMUI OS that doesn’t include any Android source code and several contingency options that replace Google’s services.

EMUI OS isn’t affected

No matter how and when the license revocation goes into affect, Huawei’s core EMUI code won’t be affected. That’s because it’s based on the Android Open Source Project, which is fully free for anyone to use, no matter their status or relationship with the US government. So while Google can block the use of its apps and the Play store on Huawei phones, most of what you know about EMUI could stay intact if Huawei chooses. Of course, it’s unlikely EMUI will operate the same way without things like Play, Chrome, and Google Maps, but it’s possible.

Google doesn’t want to hurt users

Google has as much to lose in this fight as Huawei does. It’s not just that it’s relinquishing a major client. If apps are broken, updates stop coming, or Play security is compromised, is reflects just as poorly on Google as it does on Huawei. So Google will likely work with Huawei and the US government to come up with a solution that’s amenable to all parties and doesn’t leave Huawei phones vulnerable to attack.

IDG News Service

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