News analysis

huawei
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  • Despite US sanctions, there seemed to be at least two workarounds that would allow Google's popular apps, such as Gmail and Maps, to run on new Huawei phones.
  • But in a new notice, Google points out that Huawei phones launched after May 2019 will not have its Play Protect certification.
  • Google does "now allow" its services on "uncertified devices where security may be compromised", it says.
  • So you may be able to install Google apps such as YouTube on Huawei phones – but they may not be able to connect to Google's servers to actually work.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.


Google's popular services, including Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube, may not be available as apps to buyers of new Huawei phones after all.

Phones by Huawei introduced after mid-May 2019 "will not be able to utilise Google’s apps and services", Google's legal director for Android and its Play division, Tristan Ostrowski, said in a notice posted on a community board.

The warning suggests that workarounds to install the Google apps on Huawei phones may come to nothing, because the underlying services may not work.

Google, and other US companies, have been barred from working with Huawei in terms of American sanctions linked to allegations that the Chinese company could be an intelligence conduit for the Chinese government.

Among the implications of the ban is that Google apps cannot be pre-loaded onto new Huawei phones.

But two ways remained to install the apps nonetheless: sideloading, or installation by the user of apps in the same way other software can be installed; and possibly via Huawei's App Gallery replacement for the Google Play Store, where Huawei believes US developers can upload their software without any legal relationship with Huawei that could be banned.

See also: Huawei isn’t sure its future phones in SA will have Facebook or Twitter – but after big growth in 2019, it isn’t worried

But the sanctions mean that new Huawei phones cannot be certified under Google's Play Protect programme, Ostrowski pointed out. That certification entails Google testing new devices to ensure, among other things, that data is protected.

Sideloading Google apps "carries a high risk of installing an app that has been altered or tampered with in ways that can compromise user security", Ostrowski warned.

But, more ominously, such sideloaded apps "will not work reliably because we do not allow these services to run on uncertified devices where security may be compromised," Ostrowski said.

This suggests that Google's servers could check whether they are dealing with apps on Play Protect certified devices – and deny connections if not, so rendering the apps effectively useless.

That would also affect the 10% of third-party applications Huawei estimates rely on Google services such as maps to operate.

Handsets such as the Huawei P30 range released before May 2019 will not be affected, regardless of when they are actually sold.

To check for Google Play Protect certification on a handset, open the Google Play app, select "Settings", and look for the "About" section. 

Play Protect certification in Google Play


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