In yet another twist in the ongoing Huawei US ban episode, Google has now reportedly applied for a license with the US government seeking permission to resume business with the 'blacklisted' Chinese company.
Google applies for permission to work with Huawei
According to various reports, Sameer Samat, vice-president for Google Play and Android has confirmed the news to German publication Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), but unfortunately, he did not mention or reveal exactly when a decision would be made on the application. The latest update comes just days after Google warned Huawei users against sideloading its apps on their devices citing for security updates.
Huawei US ban
To recall, the US government placed a trade ban on the Chinese tech giant in May last year, and the biggest issue arising from the ban was that the Chinese firm wasn't allowed do business with US-based companies including Google. This meant that Huawei couldn't use Google's Android operating system and Google Mobile Services (GMS) which includes popular Google apps such as Gmail, YouTube and Maps on its new phones and tablets.
The ban forced Huawei to create its proprietary mobile operating system called Hongmeng aka Harmony OS and its own Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) as an alternative replacement to Google's services.
Microsoft's appeal got approved
However, towards the end of 2019, the White House allowed the provision for US companies to apply for a license to continue trading with Huawei, and US tech major Microsoft was granted a green signal to resume business ties with the company that has been alleged to be a risk to US national security. The approval allows Huawei to continue shipping laptops such as the Huawei MateBook 13 with Windows operating system and other Microsoft services on board. So there's certainly precedent for Google's application.
If the US government grants a similar exemption to Google, Huawei can immediately update its current devices with GMS apps and services and Android. As a matter of fact, Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei consumer group, recently said that the company would update the current Mate 30 smartphone series immediately if they got Google back on-board.
Huawei Mobile Services and AppGallery
As mentioned before, after being deprived of Google's Android operating system, its application download platform Play Store and Play Protect certification that comes with it, Huawei was forced to develop its own alternative called Huawei Mobile Services and its own app storefront called Huawei AppGallery.
Although Huawei has started to adapt to a life without Google, it is still not completely independent of the American company's support as the Chinese company's Hongmeng/Harmony OS is based on Google's Android Open Source Platform (AOSP).
It is still unclear as to how much of an impact the trade ban and the resulting Google support drop has had on Huawei's business since the company has only launched two devices -the Mate 30 and the recently launched Mate XS foldable without Android so far, but Huawei has said that 2020 will be a difficult year for the company and has shown concern about the struggle it will have to face without Google, despite overtaking Apple to become the world's second-largest smartphone manufacturer after Samsung.
Google's warning against sideloading apps
For those unaware, as per the terms of the regulation, Huawei devices that were released on or before the date the ban was enforced, that is, May 19, 2019, will continue to run Android and get software updates and support from Google. Only the device's launched thereafter do not qualify for GMS and Android, and although Huawei is trying its best to get more apps on its HMS platform, there are still some notable absences, including popular apps such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Netflix.
That and the absence of Google apps like Gmail and YouTube promoted Huawei users to find ways to sideload the apps on their phones, but Google released a statement warning them against sideloading its apps on unsupported Huawei devices that were launched after the ban saying that doing so would compromise their device's security as they do not carry the Play Protect certification.
Meanwhile, Samat didn't comment after being asked by DPA the possibility of Google blocking apps on the unsupported Huawei devices from server-side. We just hope Google's application is passed and it is allowed to resume offering its apps and services to Huawei, which could lead the company to develop some really exciting devices.