KARACHI: US internet giant Google, whose Android mobile operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it was beginning to cut ties with China’s Huawei, which Washington considers a national security threat.
The move could have dramatic implications for Huawei smartphone users, as the telecoms giant will no longer have access to Google’s proprietary services — which include the Gmail and Google Maps apps — a source close to the matter told AFP.
In the midst of a trade war with Beijing, President Donald Trump has barred US companies from engaging in telecommunications trade with foreign companies said to threaten American national security.
The measure targets Huawei, the world’s second-biggest smartphone maker, which has been listed by the US Commerce Department among firms that American companies can only engage with in trade after obtaining the green light from the authorities.
“We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications,” a Google spokesperson told AFP.
“For users of our services, Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices.”
Google, like all tech companies, collaborates directly with smartphone makers to ensure its systems are compatible with their devices.
Due to the ban, Google will now have to halt business activities with Huawei that involve direct transfer of hardware, software and technical services that are not publicly available — meaning Huawei will only be able to use the open source version of Android, the source told AFP.
Google apps such as Gmail and Maps should remain functional on Huawei phones at least initially, another source told AFP.
But while the ban on technology sharing is in place, Huawei will be required to manually access any updates or software patches from Android Open Source Project — the code accessible to all outside programmers — and also to distribute the updates to users itself.
A person familiar with the matter who requested anonymity told Bloomberg News that Huawei will be unable to offer Google’s proprietary apps and services in the future.