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Google cautions against sideloading its apps on ‘uncertified’ Huawei devices

Google is prohibited from working with Huawei on new device models or preloading its apps including Gmail, Maps, YouTube, the Play Store these devices, the company said in a blog post. It added that Huawei devices introduced after May 16, 2019, are considered “uncertified,” and will not be able to utilise Google’s apps and services. This is the first time that Google has officially clarified the status of its current support for Huawei’s devices.

Cautioned against sideloading Google apps: It also urged users to not sideload — install apps not available on the Play Store — Google’s apps on Huawei devices, since such apps will “not work reliably because we [Google] do not allow these services to run on uncertified devices where security may be compromised”. Besides, sideloading Google’s apps also carries a high risk of installing an app that has been altered or tampered with in ways that can compromise user security, it said.

Some Huawei devices to be supported — for now: It also clarified that Huawei products launched on or before May 16, 2019, might receive security updates and updates to Google’s apps and services, “as long as it is permitted”. It explained that Google’s core apps are only available on “Play Protect” certified devices, which go through a rigorous security review and compatibility testing process, performed by Google, to ensure user data and app information are kept safe. Huawei devices launched after May 16, 2019, are not not reviewed, and are hence “uncertified”.

Why the clarification now? While the Unites States had added Huawei on its “entity list” in May last year — prohibiting US companies from doing business with Huawei — Google said that it has “continued to receive a number of questions about new Huawei devices,” and “whether Google’s apps and services can be used on these devices”.

Huawei had launched its own OS: In August 2019, Huawei had launched Harmony OS at their Developer Conference, and claimed that the OS was faster and safer than Android. However, it isn’t clear if the OS will also run on Huawei’s smartphones.

US-Huawei at odds: The US has been extremely wary of Huawei’s alleged close relationship with the Chinese government, and it sees the company as an espionage threat. It has been engaging with countries around the world, including India, urging them to not allow Huawei in their 5G network. After it had added Huawei to its entity list, Google cancelled Huawei’s Android licence, and chipmakers Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom and Xilinx suspended shipments to the Chinese company.

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