Huawei phones may lose Android update support: Here's why
If you own a Huawei-built phone with Google's Android operating system, there is something you should know. The license that allowed the controversy-marred Chinese giant to keep pushing important OS updates to such devices has expired, leaving the future Android support for your handset in question. Here is all you need to know about it.
Huawei was banned by the US government last year
Last year in May, the US Department of Commerce placed Huawei and its subsidiaries on an "entity list" that essentially blacklisted the company and blocked American companies from conducting any business with it. The resulting impact of the ban affected Google's working relationship with Huawei and forced the internet giant to stop providing Android updates and its proprietary apps/services on newer Huawei phones.
Download, preload of Google Maps, Play Store prohibited
"Google is prohibited from working with Huawei on new device models or providing Google's apps including Gmail, Maps, YouTube, the Play Store, and others for preload or download on these devices," Tristan Ostrowski, Android & Play Legal Director, clarified in a February 2020 support article.
Existing phones supported through special license
While newer Huawei phones/tablets came without Google's apps and support, the owners of the older ones, who already had these services, were assured they would continue to the benefits. This was done with the help of a Temporary General License the US granted to Huawei, allowing the company to work with Google for delivering Android security updates and app/service updates to its existing devices.
Now, that license has expired
Just recently, the Washington Post reported that the Temporary General License (TGL) enabling Google's support on those existing Huawei devices expired on Thursday. The development puts a question mark on the future of updates for the devices in question, given that it was the only thing allowing Google to work with Huawei, while fully complying with the restrictions imposed by the US government.
Will offer support 'as long as permitted'
Ostrowski wrote, "We have continued to work with Huawei...to provide security updates...on existing devices, and we will continue...as long as it is permitted... US law currently allows Google to only work with Huawei on device-models available to the public on or before May 16, 2019."
What could happen from here?
The license in question could either be renewed by the Commerce Department, like it did multiple times last year, allowing Google to deliver more updates to the Huawei phones in question. Or, it could fall into jeopardy, hitting Google's support for the Huawei devices completely. The phones would lose access to monthly Android security updates as well as updates for critical Google-built services.