What just happened? Another day, another US company distancing itself from Huawei. This time, it’s social networking giant Facebook, which is no longer allowing the pre-installation of its apps on the beleaguered Chinese firm’s phones.
The decision won’t be as much of a blow to Huawei as Google and Arm cutting ties. Reuters reports that owners of its phones will still be able to download Facebook’s main app, Instagram, and WhatsApp, and will continue to receive Play Store updates, but new devices won’t ship with any of the software pre-installed. Huawei usually pre-installs apps such as Facebook and Twitter on its handsets. Whether Twitter will follow suit is unclear.
According to a person familiar with the matter, the Facebook ban applies to any Huawei phone that has not left the factory. This might seem like a minor inconvenience as the apps can just be downloaded from the Play Store once the new phone has been set up, but many consumers might still see it as another reason to avoid Huawei handsets.
The bigger issue for the company is Google. The US government granted the search giant a 90-day reprieve after Huawei was blacklisted, meaning even phones not yet shipped or built will still receive updates and come with Google services pre-installed. But Google said it would no longer provide Android software after the reprieve expires in August, at which point it will likely turn to its own alternative operating system, possibly a forked version of Android.
Google itself isn’t happy with the situation. According to the Financial Times, it has told the US government that a “hybrid” Android OS from Huawei would be “more at risk of being hacked, not least by China.”