One of the prevailing international storylines in the smartphone industry over the past few months has been the US government’s ban of Huawei devices, which has forced Huawei to look beyond Android for a mobile operating system to run on its new phones. We’ve heard Huawei’s side of the story, and the Chinese vendor has since unveiled its own multiplatform OS, but Google recently took to its support forum to answer questions about the ban.
In the forum post, Android & Play legal director Tristan Ostrowski explained that the inclusion of Huawei on the Entity List prohibits all US companies, including Google, from working with Huawei. Google is only legally allowed to work with Huawei on devices that were released on or before May 16th, 2019. But some people still have questions about the effects of the ban, and Ostrowski attempted to answer many of them:
Due to government restrictions, Google’s apps and services are not available for preload or sideload on new Huawei devices.
To protect user data privacy, security, and safeguard the overall experience, the Google Play Store, Google Play Protect, and Google’s core apps (including Gmail, YouTube, Maps, and others) are only available on Play Protect certified devices.
Play Protect certified devices go through a rigorous security review and compatibility testing process, performed by Google, to ensure user data and app information are kept safe. They also come from the factory with our Google Play Protect software, which provides protection against the device being compromised.
This has been our long-standing approach to user security and privacy and is applied consistently across all device manufacturers.
Because of the government restrictions described above, new Huawei device models made available to the public after May 16, 2019 have not been able to go through this security process nor will they have Play Protect preloaded. As a result, they are considered “uncertified,” and will not be able to utilize Google’s apps and services.
In addition, sideloaded Google apps will not work reliably because we do not allow these services to run on uncertified devices where security may be compromised. 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.
To check if your device is certified, open the Google Play Store app on your Android phone, tap “Menu” and look for “Settings.” You will see if your device is certified under “Play Protect certification.” You can learn more on android.com/certified.
While the ban itself is relatively simple to understand, this broadly explains why Google’s software and the apps found on the Play Store aren’t available on new Huawei device models. None of those phones are able to be certified, and thus Google can’t allow users to preload or sideload apps on to them.
As difficult as this transition might be for Huawei, there’s a chance that it could end up causing as much trouble for Google in the long run as it has for Huawei in the short term, as we discussed earlier this month.