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Google Suspends Huawei Support: Will My Phone Still Work? (And Other Questions)

"Huawei has its own mobile OS as a backup, but it’s not fully ready yet"

By CBR Staff Writer

Will my Huawei device still work, after Google withdrew support from the Chinese multinational under political pressure? That was the main question on users’ minds, after Google confirmed that it was suspending business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services.

Yes, is the short answer, the Android team said in a Tweet today, confirming Google Play and Google Play Protect will “continue functioning”. (It will be pulling security updates, support and Play store et al from new Huawei devices however.)

Businesses had bigger questions about the consequences of the company being added to a Trump administration trade blacklist: what will retaliation look like? (e.g. Will China halt rare earth exports? Ban iPhone sales in the country? Something more damaging?)

Chinese statements thus far have been relatively muted: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi “urged the United States not to go too far” in “actions that are harmful to Chinese interests in various fields”, the country’s Xinhua newswire reported, after a phone conversation Saturday between Wang and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

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In terms of immediate impact on Huawei, Forrester analyst Charlie Dai said: “Huawei has its own mobile OS as a backup, but it’s not fully ready yet and it’s very difficult to build up the ecosystem as what Huawei has been doing on Android. It’s a pity that customer value facilitated by the open-source spirit is now ruined by the politics.”

Huawei said in an emailed comment: “Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world.”

“As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry. Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products… sold or still in stock globally.”

Google’s  Huawei Support Withdrawal – The Least of Its Problems?

The Trump administration’s decision means that any US company that wants to supply Huawei needs to first ask the US government for permission.

US chipmakers including Broadcom, Intel, Qualcomm and Xilinx have already told their employees they will not supply critical software and components to Huawei until further notice, Bloomberg reported late on Sunday.

While AOSP (the Android Open Source Project, or Android’s code base) without Google Services is common in China, most Chinese devices continue to rely on the best-known and Google-developed iteration of Android, rather than an open source fork (Xiaomi is an exception).

See also: Amazon’s Fire OS Burned by Google, says EC. Is It Really a Rival to Mainstream Android

There has been no evidence of any intentional backdoors in Huawei products,the UK’s Huawei watchdog, HCSEC, noted in its most recent report that the company’s build processes – certainly for its network infrastructure products and services – are very poor, citing VMs containing irrelevant source code, artefacts of previous builds and other detritus and tools installed multiple times in a build environment, or in environments where they are not needed.

Configuration management of source code is also poor and applied inconsistently between development teams, HCSEC found: “Product code is managed differently to platform code and both are managed differently to third-party components. Secondly, the integration into the overall product architecture is very poor, with multiple copies and versions of components, apparently identically versioned components containing significant differences, circular dependencies between components and some components regressing in version between overall product increments.”

There, needless to say, plenty of poorly built other platforms and products in widespread circulation in the market…

The extent to which the company will be allowed to participate in future 5G networks in the UK remains a political football, with an official government position expected to be announced in coming weeks.

See also: 10 Key Takeaways from the UK’s Damning Report on Huawei’s Risk to UK Infrastructure

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