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Huawei readies backup OS amid US blacklist

Huawei’s OS that might be called “Hong Meng” is ready as of March in solution to US blacklist.

News about Google’s partnership with Huawei has been so rampant these days. The United States of America has blacklisted Huawei from dealing with US companies in relation to national security grounds, which threatens the existence of apps like Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, or even the Google Play Store on Huawei devices.

Existing Huawei users are expected to still be continually supported by Google. Smartphones use the open-source Android operating system. The ban applies to the future Huawei handsets that won’t have any access to Google Mobile Services, including Google’s most popular apps and APIs.

This issue is not new, yet is already normal in China, which Google has left-back as well in the year 2010 and where all the company’s services were blocked in 2014.

“As Google services are not available in China, the short-term impact is small for the Chinese market,” said Xi Wang, research manager at IDC China. “But for international users, apps like Gmail, Google Maps, Google Play Store, YouTube […] will not be available, which is absolutely a huge impact for them.”

Half of Huawei’s smartphone production last year was shipped and went to users outside China. In Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, the company’s smartphones now make up more than a fifth of the market, according to IDC data. It also makes up a quarter of the EMEA Android market, unfortunately, losing access to Google services could be critical.
Going forward, the international version of Huawei’s Android-based EMUI may not supply and provide the best user experience like how Google had supported it and could have security issues, according to Xi.

The ban also means users may not be able to have further access such as an update to the next version of the OS, Android Q, which is already in beta and will be released in August. Even with the access to Android’s open-source code, Huawei wouldn’t be able to include Google’s suite of apps.

Users who have the newest P30, P30 Pro on their hands should not worry. The Google Play app store and security protections are working continually for the handsets to work normally, but only for existing Huawei device users, Google explained.

Users who are planning on buying Huawei devices may have to be more patient and wait for a unique solution from the company. And it’s possible Huawei already has one. Richard Yu, head of the company’s consumer division, confirmed that the company has its own OS ready as of March.

“Should it ever happen that we can no longer use these systems, we would be prepared,” Yu told German newspaper, Die Welt. “That’s our Plan B. But, of course, we prefer to work with the ecosystems of Google and Microsoft.

According to Chinese media, Huawei OS might be called Hong Meng, taking its name from Chinese mythology. Huawei hasn’t confirmed it, but the name of the OS started to circulate on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo and has earned rumors about it. This appears to be a photograph of a PowerPoint presentation dating back all the way to 2012.

The public doesn’t know about the exact details of the OS, such as how compatible it may or may not be with existing apps. Huawei may be on its own way to becoming the world’s biggest smartphone maker despite the fact of being neglected, but building up an entire ecosystem of apps just for its own OS would be a tall order.

Huawei might still get a short reprieve. On Friday, the US Department of Commerce said it may give ease to some restrictions on Huawei by issuing a temporary license. The allotted 90-day license gives Huawei’s existing customers time to ensure their communication networks and equipment are working accurately before the company is barred from servicing them.