Tech

Google tells consumers not to sideload Gmail and other Google apps on uncertified phones

The ongoing trade ban on Huawei by the US Government has been a big story for Android users, with Huawei unable to sell phones since May last year running Google Apps. Some users have been sideloading the Google apps, but now Google has officially come out and started telling consumers not to.

In the Google Help community page, Tristan Ostrowski, legal director for Android and Google Play, has outlined exactly where Google stands with Huawei in relation to the ban, explaining:

Google is prohibited from working with Huawei on new device models or providing Google’s apps including Gmail, Maps, YouTube, the Play Store and others for preload or download on these devices.

The ban by the Commerce Department has effectively meant that phones launched after May 16 last year have not been certified by Google. One of the main concerns it seems is that Google is unable to ensure the app package being side-loaded onto the device hasn’t been tampered with:

Because of the government restrictions described above, new Huawei device models made available to the public after May 16, 2019 have not been able to go through this security process nor will they have Play Protect preloaded. As a result, they are considered “uncertified,” and will not be able to utilize Google’s apps and services.

In addition, 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 phones made available to the public before May 16th last year continue to receive updates from Google, but it’s the newer phones including the Mate 30, and soon-to-be-announced P40 series which are likely the focus of this warning.

Huawei’s recent phones have not included Google apps or services, with Huawei instead opting to develop Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) to replace Google Mobile Services (GMS). Huawei is also making moves to develop their own mobile Operating System called ‘Harmony’, though it’s expected to rely on a software interpreter to run Android apps, which Huawei will likely supply through their own app store.

The US trade ban has mainly hit Huawei in western countries where Google services are more ingrained in user behaviour, though in China where phones are mostly sold sans Google services it’s not such a big deal. Huawei maintains they’re selling phones despite the trade ban, reporting in January that they’d sold 12 million Mate 30 handsets.

There’s no end in sight for the trade ban, despite a temporary general license being granted so Google and Huawei can work on software updates for existing devices – as well as maintaining Huawei network equipment in rural areas of the US.

Huawei is expected to announce their new P40 phone series at an event in March, again without Google Services.

Google tells consumers not to sideload Gmail and other Google apps on uncertified phones
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