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What is Huawei Mobile Services? All your questions answered

When the US government stopped American companies from working with Huawei, it meant the company’s new devices wouldn’t be able to access key apps and services like the Google Play Store and Google’s army of popular apps. With Huawei Mobile Services, the Chinese firm is becoming less dependent on Google.

Huawei Mobile Services is Huawei’s answer to Google’s own suite of mobile services, which includes the Google Play Store, Gmail, YouTube, Maps and more. Currently, no Huawei devices can be sold with Google mobile services.

Why did the US government ban Huawei?

Back in 2019, the US government added Huawei to its ‘Entity List’. The original document claims that Huawei and its affiliate companies “pose a significant risk of involvement in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”

Donald Trump argued: “I don’t want to do business at all because [Huawei] is a national security threat.”

The US government alleges that the Chinese government could use Huawei equipment to spy on users and networks. For the same reason, US officials have been bidding to prevent Huawei equipment being used in the development of the UK’s 5G network.

Related: Huawei shut out of ‘sensitive parts’ of UK 5G network

Are Huawei Mobile Services a good replacement for Google’s?

Our most recent encounter with Huawei Mobile Services was when we got hands on with the Honor 9X Pro. Honor is a subsidiary brand of Huawei and, as a result, has been impacted by the US ban.

Our hands-on review reads:

“No matter how impressive the specifications are, the biggest issue with the phone is undoubtedly its lack of access to Google Mobile Services. This means it won’t have the Play Store or any other of Google’s familiar suite of apps, including Maps, YouTube, or Google Photos.

“Instead, you’ll have to rely on the Huawei App Gallery for downloading your apps, and it comes up short compared to the Play Store, not only lacking those Google apps but also other popular ones such as Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. Users might find it very difficult to adjust to life outside of the Android ecosystem.”

What have Google and Huawei said on the issue?

Google issued a statement on the issue recently that discourages users from sideloading Google apps onto Huawei phones. Google say this could create security issues. One excerpt reads:

“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.”
Huawei didn’t pull any punches when its response to the US. Its statement says:

“As evidenced by the Snowden leaks, the United States has been covertly accessing telecom networks worldwide, spying on other countries for quite some time. The report by the Washington Post this week about how the CIA used an encryption company to spy on other countries for decades is yet additional proof.

“US allegations of Huawei using lawful interception are nothing but a smokescreen – they don’t adhere to any form of accepted logic in the cyber security domain. Huawei has never and will never covertly access telecom networks, nor do we have the capability to do so.”

US officials have since gone on to say that they are working closely with Huawei’s competitors, in relation to developing 5G technologies.

Related: The US is helping out Huawei competitors Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung

What Huawei phones are affected?

Google explained this, saying in a statement:

“We have continued to work with Huawei, in compliance with government regulations, to provide security updates and updates to Google’s apps and services on existing devices, and we will continue to do so as long as it is permitted. To be clear: US law currently allows Google to only work with Huawei on device models available to the public on or before May 16, 2019.”

So, older Huawei devices, and devices from associated brands like Honor, can still use Google Mobile Services, if they were made available to the public before May 2019.

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