Google canceled its Android licence with Huawei after the President of the USA, Donald Trump signed an executive order banning the use of all Huawei devices in the USA. This is due to the allegations that Huawei could build backdoor spyware that could run on American networks and gather data. Simply put, an espionage threat.
The effect? Android will no longer be supported on Huawei devices, and Huawei will not be able to buy components like screen glass and chips from USA manufacturers.
This sent its users (especially the ones who just purchased the Huawei P30 and didn’t see this coming despite that fantastic zoom!) into a frenzy of ‘what happens next?’ and ‘should I throw my phone Huawei?’ (No? Ok fine.)
Google through its Android Twitter account shared their response to calm people’s fears on what happens next:
For Huawei users’ questions regarding our steps to comply w/ the recent US government actions: We assure you while we are complying with all US gov’t requirements, services like Google Play & security from Google Play Protect will keep functioning on your existing Huawei device.
— Android (@Android) May 20, 2019
Huawei spokesperson responded saying:
“We are ready and willing to engage with the US government and come up with effective measures to ensure product security. Restrictions “will only serve to limit the US to inferior yet more expensive alternatives, leaving the US lagging behind in 5G deployment, and eventually harming the interests of US companies and consumers.”
How does it affect you?
Zambia loves Huawei to an extent, it offers high quality smartphones at affordable prices. Statcounter gives a Zambian overview of how much Huawei we have in use:
The rest of the world seems to love it too, just look at the stats from CounterPoint research about market share growth of the top 3 phone brands between the first quarter of 2015 and first quarter of 2019:
The end of the Android support does not mean your phone will die tomorrow, but the future of how they run in the long term remains uncertain. Huawei will not get the latest security features or be able to use standard Google features, as it only has access to use the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) to run.
The BBC explains that “The way these typically work is that Google gives Android device-makers the code for its software fixes about one month before it reveals details to the public about the vulnerabilities involved. This gives manufacturers time to check the patches do not cause problems for their own proprietary software, and then to package up a customised version of the fixes as a download. Huawei will now only learn of the patches on the same day they are released to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), meaning there will be a lag before it can distribute them.’
What’s next for Huawei?
It may have to build its own operating system(OS), but what that looks like is yet to be seen. Will apps work right, since they might have to be recreated for that specific platform? Stay woke, developers. If they do retaliate with their own OS, we will see a Battle of Systems between the US (think Android and iOS) and China.
“We have been making plans for this possible outcome – but it hasn’t happened yet,” Jeremy Thompson, Huawei’s UK executive vice president said. “We have a parallel programme in place to develop an alternative… which we think will delight our customers. In the short-term it’s not good news for Huawei, but I think we can manage that.”
The current operating system global market-share
Android has the world’s largest share of OS presence on smartphones, a large number of these are Huawei devices. Who really loses out, Google or Huawei? What do you think?