Huawei smartphones will not come with Google apps and services, the US search giant has revealed.
The beleaguered Chinese firm has some of the world’s leading tech but has been hit hard by the ongoing controversy following spying allegations.
It comes less than a month after Huawei revealed its own operating system, dubbed Harmony.
Google has told the Reuters news agency that, under the current US restrictions on trade with Huawei, the new phones cannot be sold with licensed apps.
This includes popular apps such as Google Maps or Gmail which form part of its Android operating system.
Huawei uses Google’s Android operating system to power its line-up of smartphones, and may now have to rely on its HarmonyOS.
It said it had been developing the OS for two years, but maintained that its first choice was to continue using Android.
The Chinese firm was effectively blacklisted by the US government in May, amid allegations that the company was a threat to US national security.
This was born from alleged close ties to the Chinese government — something Huawei has always denied.
A temporary licence was issued by the US government earlier in the summer and renewed again last week, which has allowed Huawei to maintain existing devices.
however, it does not apply to new products such as the Mate 30, Google said.
US companies are able to apply for specific products to be exempted from the ban, but Google has not said whether it had applied for any such licences.
‘Huawei will continue to use the Android OS and ecosystem if the US government allows us to do so,’ a Huawei spokesman said.
‘Otherwise, we will continue to develop our own operating system and ecosystem.’
The forthcoming Mate 30 launch will be the first major phone released by the company since the restrictions were introduced.
WHAT IS HARMONYOS?
Huawei unveiled its own mobile operating system in August 2019.
It is called HarmonyOS and the Chinese company could use to power its smartphones instead of Google’s Android.
Huawei currently uses Android to power its smartphones and other devices, but has admitted it was developing its own OS as a ‘plan B’.
The revelation that the upcoming Huawei handsets will not have Google apps means HarmonyOS will likely play a starring role.
Earlier in the year, Huawei was ostracised by Google and had its access to Android removed following allegations of spying before Donald Trump reinstated the Chinese firm’s privileges.
At the company’s developer conference in southern China, Huawei said HarmonyOS would be first used in a new Honor smartphone.
Chief executive Richard Yu said the new operating system could be used in phones, computers, tablets and wearable devices such as smartwatches.
However, he said at the time that the Chinese firm’s ‘priority’ is to still use Android in its devices, though it could easily switch to Harmony at any point if necessary.
The firm said it has been developing the software for more than two years but its importance did not become urgent until earlier this year.
In June, Huawei’s UK managing director, Anson Zhang, said ‘nothing has changed’ for the Chinese company despite the ban and it would continue to provide software and security updates for Android in both the short and long-term.
Following the news,Rob Baillie, mobile comms expert at www.comparemymobile.com, told MailOnline: ‘After a period of relative stability, today’s news will come as a massive blow to Huawei.
‘Not only does a lack of Google apps mean that the next flagship phone will be missing popular apps like YouTube, Google Maps and Google Pay, it also means that the device won’t have Play Store, so consumers will have to find alternative ways to download their non-negotiable apps.
‘This will also make marketing the new phone to consumers significantly more difficult.
‘And expecting users to shell out for a premium handset without some of their favourite apps will be a daunting feat. Whilst Huawei has announced that it will still be using the Android operating system on its new phone if there are no additional problems, it is still developing its own operating system which – if these problems continue – we might see more of in the future.
‘Indeed, today’s news shows the power that Google has within the market, and with many insiders predicting that Huawei’s new phone will tank, it’s likely the company will start to put even more effort into its own OS and apps.’
HOW CHINA COULD TARGET APPLE AND OTHER US COMPANIES IN RETALIATION FOR HUAWEI BAN
China could retaliate against America for its treatment of Huawei in a number of devastating ways – the most likely would be to targeting US companies that do business in the region, such as Apple. Greater China ranks third among the regions that generate the most revenue for the company, behind the US and Europe.
Additionally, the majority of Apple’s supply chain consists of Chinese companies that manufacture key components like sensors, OLED displays and other parts used in the iPhone.
If Apple can’t rely on Chinese manufacturers, it may be forced to move to suppliers in the US or elsewhere, which could result in an increase in iPhone prices.
Additionally, some Chinese consumers have already latched onto a growing ‘Boycott Apple’ movement in retaliation, which means Apple may suffer lasting damage to its brand in the region as a result of the Huawei ban.
Apple isn’t the only US firm that’s likely to feel an impact. Tech companies that rely on Huawei as a major will also be hurt.
‘The announced tariffs, if implemented, will be the gut punch for tech companies and its suppliers,’ said Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives.
Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm Broadcom and Micron provide components or services that are used in Huawei products, while Corning glass and Dolby speakers are used in Huawei phones.
What devices could be impacted by the decision?
Existing and new Huawei phones will be hurt the most when it comes to security updates.
These devices will no longer be able to access over-the-air security updates supplied by Android, as well as new software versions, like Google’s upcoming Android Q.
Google ships Android security updates to device owners automatically.
But Huawei devices will be forced to use the open source version of Android, which means the firm will learn of security updates the day they’re issued and, as a result, will have to ship them out to users manually.
This could leave Huawei devices vulnerable to attacks or other security flaws in the time that it takes to download new security updates.
Huawei would also be left out of future Android software updates. Since it’s using an open source version, it can’t legally market its phones as being Android devices.
The ban will most likely affect Huawei’s line of Mate laptops as well.
Huawei’s computer business relies heavily on chips made by Intel, Qualcomm and others, as well as Microsoft’s Windows operating system.
Since these companies aren’t doing business with Huawei, it’s not yet clear what this means for future laptops made by the firm.