Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei.
  • Huawei has struck a deal with TomTom to let the navigation company build map services for Huawei phones.
  • New Huawei phones are precluded from pre-installing Google apps, including Google Maps, following the company's blacklisting by the Trump administration in 2019.
  • The company has been taking more and more steps to get ready for its Google-less future.
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.

Huawei's severance from Google has forced it to strike up a partnership with satellite navigation company TomTom, Reuters reports.

Better known for making in-car navigation systems, TomTom will be building a maps app for Huawei phones since Huawei lost access to pre-installing Google Maps.

The Trump administration placed Huawei on a trade blacklist called an "entity list" in May 2019, designating it a national security risk. The US claims Huawei acts as a conduit for Chinese government espionage, an allegation the company denies.

The blacklisting means American companies have to seek government permission before dealing with Huawei. Although the ban has yet to kick in fully, as the US has granted Huawei multiple extensions to give American companies time to transition, Google has cut new Huawei phones off from Google services. As a Dutch company, TomTom is under no such constraints.

While old Huawei phones still run on Android and have access to Google apps, new flagship models like the Mate 30 and the upcoming P40 run on the open-source version of Android and have no Google apps pre-installed, including Google Maps. With no access Google App store, the phones cannot download Google apps either.

A Huawei spokesman told Reuters the deal had been struck a while ago but gave no specific timeframe. A TomTom spokesman told Business Insider: "We can confirm that developers can now use TomTom Maps APIs, Map content and traffic services via Huawei's developer portal." Huawei declined to comment when contacted by Business Insider.

Although Google was reported to be lobbying Washington for an exemption to the trade ban last summer, Huawei has been maneuvering to set up an app ecosystem of its own. Last week Huawei announced a $26 million (R376 million) fund for British and Irish developers to build apps for its App Gallery.

Huawei has been touting its homegrown operating system Harmony OS, but executives have given conflicting messages on when Harmony might make its way onto Huawei phones. In November last year senior vice president Vincent Pang said it could be ready in the next six to nine months.

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