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A license that allowed Google to update older Huawei phones just expired

Older phones that were spared from the ongoing ban on Huawei may no longer be exempted.

What you need to know

  • Google may no longer be able to provide Android or app updates to Huawei.
  • While new Huawei phones were already barred from Google services, older phones had till now been eligible to receive updates.
  • The expiration of a reprieve given to Huawei is behind this latest development.

Older Huawei phones sold before May 16, 2019, when the ban on Huawei went into effect, had thus far been exempt from the ban on Google Mobile Services (GMS) on Huawei phones. This meant that while newer Huawei phones could no longer run GMS, these older phones could still receive updates to Android and Google apps. That may no longer be true.

As a Google document from February stated, which is quoted by the The Washington Post, this special consideration was the result of the Temporary General License (TGL) granted to Huawei. That license has now expired, which could potentially leave the owners of older Huawei phones unable to receive critical security updates in the future.

While the TGL's primary aim was to allow U.S. companies to keep working with Huawei to provide software updates to rural carriers that used Huawei's equipment, the continuation of Google updates to older Huawei phones was a pleasant side effect.

The reprieve was designed to give rural telcos time to move off of Huawei's equipment, though they are not required to do so until the federal government grants them the funds to purchase new equipment. Thus far, the government hasn't allocated those funds, which does leave some room for the license to be renewed again, though the Commerce Department refused to provide any comments to The Post on the matter.

With both its new and old phones potentially unable to receive even the most basic of security updates from Google, the company is likely giving another look to Harmony OS, its in-house operating system, which the company is hedging as its backup plan if it loses access to Android entirely.

Huawei's latest sales figures show it doesn't need Google's help to succeed



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