Despite executive comments to the contrary, Huawei says it’s still open to using Google services after being forbidden from including them on devices last year. Huawei’s Fred Wangfei apparently said the company has no plans to return to using Google’s mobile services — the Play Store, Gmail, Google Maps, and other Google-made apps — even if the US government decides to lift the trade ban that forced Huawei to come up with its own alternatives.
Wangfei made the split sound permanent, but Huawei is already walking things back and leaving the door open to a restored relationship with Google. “Our first choice is the open Android ecosystem, including GMS (Google Mobile Services) — that was what helped us become number two in the world for smartphone shipments,” a Huawei spokesperson told The Verge by email.
The company is still able to use the core Android operating system; it just can’t add any of Google’s services. For its Mate 30 Pro and other upcoming products, Huawei has built its own version of important APIs that are part of the Google Mobile Services found on the vast majority of Android phones. But even if Huawei can make do and replicate functionality, the ban still makes its devices less appealing to Western customers, who rely on Gmail, Google Calendar, and other staples.
“I believe both Google and Huawei hope a license will be granted, but you would need to confirm that with Google,” the spokesperson said. “As a result of the entity listing we are now developing HMS (Huawei Mobile Services) — inviting app developers to come on board. etc. This offer has received a lot of positive interest in Europe. It’s worth reiterating that we were one of the lead contributors to the Android open source operating system over the last five years.”
Apart from banning the purchase of Huawei equipment (a move that hasn’t yet gone into effect) and cutting off its ties with Google, the Trump administration has insisted that Huawei poses an electronic espionage risk and has urged other governments to remove Huawei equipment from mobile network infrastructure — especially as 5G deployment picks up momentum in Europe. But the UK isn’t on board with that advice. For its part, Huawei continues to say it’s the target of propaganda and unfair treatment by the US.