According to a report published today by Reuters, Huawei's upcoming Mate 30 series of phones may have to eschew Google's apps as a result of the trade ban imposed by the U.S. government. While the phone should still be able to run Android, given the free and open availability of the software, deeper integration with Google's apps and services like the Play Store and YouTube will be missing if an exemption can't be secured.
In the report, "A Google spokesman told Reuters the Mate 30 cannot be sold with the licensed version of Android and associated Google apps and services due to the U.S. ban on sales to Huawei." Huawei company executives also told Reuters that the company may have to "forge ahead" with the phone even if it can't get access to the apps.
Though Huawei was given a 90-day reprieve from the general effects of the Entity List ban, individual licenses sought by companies to sell U.S. goods to Huawei haven't been granted as of earlier this month. According to Reuters, the backlog of licenses still has yet to be approved.
In all, this means Google can't license the use of its GMS apps and services to Huawei for the Mate 30. all those Google apps we're used to having on Android phones like the Play Store, Google Maps, Chrome, and YouTube won't be included if that happens. Huawei will also lose access to the "licensed" version of Android, meaning it will be dependent on the publicly available AOSP software, and likely won't have access to new releases or beta software before they are launched.
Unless a license or exemption of some kind can't be secured, the closest most of us can hope to a normal Android experience would be sideloading the required apps and services ourselves — that's not a terribly complicated process, but it's beyond most consumers. That lack of expected apps and services may be enough to tank sales for the Mate 30, hitting the company where it's already hurt.
Reuters claims that the Mate 30 is expected to be revealed in Munich on September 18th, though a precise release date for the phone isn't known. That window still cuts down any time left to fight or appeal the decision. Other hardware included in the phone like the chipset/SoC will be compliant with the U.S. government's ban.
A Huawei spokesperson explained to Reuters that while it would prefer to use Android going forward, the company is still actively working for other contingencies. "Huawei will continue to use the Android OS and ecosystem if the U.S. government allows us to do so. Otherwise, we will continue to develop our own operating system and ecosystem.” But, it's still early days for Huawei's in-house HarmonyOS, and the upcoming Mate 30 will have to depend on Android, Google apps or not.
According to Nikkei Asian Review, Huawei's folding Mate X may also skip out on Google apps and services when it goes on sale, expected to happen later this month. The phone has already suffered delays pushing the release from June until September. If it had launched on time, it may have been able to sneak in the release before the Google's ability to license software to the company expired.