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Google warns against sideloading its apps on HUAWEI devices
Update, February 22, 12:34PM: We updated this article to remove ambiguous language regarding which HUAWEI devices don’t come with preloaded Google apps.
Original post, February 22, 07:28: If you were thinking of sideloading Google apps onto your HUAWEI Mate 30 Pro, you might want to think twice. A recent post from Google’s Tristan Ostrovski , Legal Director for Android and Play, warns that sideloaded Google apps “will not work reliably” and are “not available for preload or sideload on new HUAWEI devices.” Sideloading apps from third-party sources opens them up to tampering, which has serious security and privacy implications.
The second quote applies to HUAWEI devices released after the HUAWEI ban instated on May 16, 2019, including the upcoming P40 series. HUAWEI has already announced that the phones will not launch with Google services, instead relying on its alternative HMS (HUAWEI Mobile Services).
Phones running HMS, which launched in China last year, include a number of alternatives to popular Google apps, and may even come pre-installed with some of the most popular apps on the Google Play Store. This strategy would mean that users aren’t forced to sideload apps not found in HUAWEI’s limited AppGallery library, which is exactly what Google is warning against doing.
Read also: HUAWEI in 2020: So many questions
The timing of the post is peculiar, as HMS is expected to make its global debut on Monday. HUAWEI is in desperate need of a GMS alternative, with allegations from the US government ramping up in recent weeks.
Thus far HUAWEI has continued to work with US companies on a limited scale, but building pressure may put further licence extensions into question. The shorter 45-day extension granted last week may be the last, meaning that HUAWEI will be cut off from doing any business with US firms.
Google doesn’t specifically mention HMS is its warning, but it’s possible that’s what prompted the response. Rather than outright stating that HUAWEI devices are unsafe, the post cites Google’s inability to perform Play Protect testing and certification due to government restrictions. This means that Google can’t ensure that user privacy and security is protected, despite any claims from the Chinese company.
In an odd twist, the post recommends using the Google Play Store to check whether or not your device is Play Protect certified. Of course, this doesn’t apply to users of post-ban HUAWEI devices, as these don’t have the Play Store preloaded.