Huawei’s Google updates may be halted

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Huawei’s been facing a long, hard road of dealing with sometimes childish regulations set by the US government. The Chinese telecoms company was placed on the US Entity List in 2019, placing them under harsh sanctions that won’t allow them to trade with US-based companies, including Google. 

However, the Trump administration has been issuing temporary licences, which allows current Huawei devices that run Google services to continue pushing out updates. This includes all Huawei devices pre-Mate 30 Pro. Now, the US Commerce Department has ceased giving out these temporary licenses, which means Google can’t push updates through to any Huawei phone — yes, even if you’re not in the US. 

What do we do now?

It was confirmed by The Washington Post that these licences expired on 13 August under the radar. This would render it illegal for Google to send updates (some of which may be critical security updates) to any Huawei device in the market. So if your kit includes a P30 Pro or earlier, you’ll lose out on Google updates in the future, including access to Android 11. Huawei assures us this isn’t the case, however, saying “Huawei will continue providing system updates and security patches.”

Huawei phones (post the ban) that run the open-source version of Android will, however, continue receiving updates directly from Huawei. Another Huawei phone with full Google services, you probably won’t get Android 11 or any other updates going forward. If you own any Huawei device launched later than the P30-range, you’ll still get updates pushed directly from Huawei, so there’s no worry there. “For phones that do not come with Google Play, new apps and updates can be managed through the pre-installed Huawei AppGallery” Huawei said. 

These licences were issued primarily to help US-based companies in rural areas who use Huawei hardware to make other plans and move to other hardware suppliers. “The Commerce Department has said the reprieve was largely meant to help rural telecommunications companies in the U.S., some of which use Huawei equipment in their mobile networks. Larger U.S. telecom companies have avoided using Huawei equipment, but rural providers adopted it because it was relatively inexpensive,” The Washington Post reports. 

But, I have a Huawei?

If you’re rocking a Huawei circa-Mate 30, you may stop receiving software updates from Google for the time being. These updates aren’t crucial for phone function per se, but they could include important security patches or update vital processes. Luckily, it looks like Huawei is doing their job at keeping user devices up to date. “Our customers can keep receiving software updates and services thanks to the strength of the open-source community and our own advanced R&D capabilities,” Huawei said. 

If this is the case, and Google ceases pushing out updates, our advice is to hold on to the Huawei as long as you’re comfortable using it without Google updates. You’ll still have access to the Play Store, Gmail, Google Maps and other Google services. “All Huawei devices that come with Google Play pre-installed can continue using Google Play to download and update apps,” Huawei assures us.

Then on the other hand, if you’re keen on a Huawei, we’ll suggest going for an HMS device. They work perfectly well and will receive regular security updates from Huawei. They’re also some of the more robust devices out there, and we’ll suggest the P40 Pro to just about anyone. 

Unfortunately for Huawei, these allegations come at a terrible time. The company can’t manufacture its high-end processors due to the trade restrictions, which means it’ll need to find local suppliers fast. But knowing Huawei, this will likely push them to innovate and come up with some interesting workarounds. This is a developing story, so stay tuned. 

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Deputy Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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  1. Pingback: Even more US restrictions are falling into Huawei’s lap

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