As the US crackdown on Chinese tech company Huawei continues, things may just become really complicated for Huawei as far as its smartphones are concerned. Google has announced that they will be suspending all interactions with Huawei, and this comes just after the Trump administration in the US had put Huawei on the US Commerce Department’s trade blacklist, also called ‘entity list’. This means, Huawei will no longer have access to proprietary hardware and software from Google, and that includes the Android software.
But what does this mean? For starters, existing Huawei and Honor branded smartphones will no longer get new Android updates, including security patches, directly from Google. Huawei also loses technical support from Google for Android. Secondly, new phones that Huawei makes will not have Google Play Services, and would therefore lose access to apps such as Maps, Play Store and YouTube.
Huawei will still be able to use the Android versions and updates available through the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) since it is, as the name suggests, open source. However, this will be a very restricted experience, since Google has already moved a lot of application programming interface (APIs) from AOSP to Play Services over time. This AOSP route will be available for complete Android software installations for new phones, as well as for security patches that Google regularly releases for Android.
The Donald Trump administration had, just last week, put Huawei on a list of companies that American companies cannot have trade ties with, unless certain conditions are met. Huawei has been facing backlash in many countries for the possible security risks that its software and hardware poses, particularly the telecom network equipment. In 2018, US intelligence agencies warned against any use of Huawei and ZTE devices, and at the time, US politicians had said Huawei is “effectively an arm of the Chinese government.” There have been persistent fears that Huawei hardware and software products have a backdoor, which is believed to be used by the Chinese government to access data. The company has persistently denied this.