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Huawei's temporary US licence expires, meaning no updates for older phones

Huawei P30 Pro
(Image credit: Future)

As if Huawei didn't have enough trouble with the US already, the company's temporary license for pushing out Android updates to older phones just expired – and that means handsets such as the Huawei P30 Pro are unlikely to get operating system updates from this point on.

Up until now, the license had allowed phones that launched before the US ban took effect to keep getting software updates from Google. The Washington Post reports that the license expired on August 13, so that's now no longer possible.

Exactly what this means if you're using a Huawei phone that went on sale before May 16, 2019 isn't immediately clear: your device won't suddenly stop working, but Google is no longer authorized to help Huawei with Android updates, or to push out updates to Google's Android apps (such as Gmail and Google Maps).

Google did confirm to the Post that the temporary general license (or TGL) had been enabling it to keep on supporting devices like the Huawei P30, but it didn't comment on what might be possible in the future now the TGL has expired.

Playing by the rules

In a support document posted earlier this year, Google had this to say: "We have continued to work with Huawei, in compliance with government regulations, to provide security updates and updates to Google's apps and services on existing devices, and we will continue to do so as long as it is permitted."

While it doesn't appear that Google's apps will suddenly be pulled from phones where they were preinstalled, it does now seem probable that you'll be stuck with the current versions of those apps, and with the current version of Android.

Security is another concern, with Google and Huawei presumably unable to send out patches that squash bugs and fix loopholes. Devices released after May 16, 2019 – such as the Huawei P40 – are running Huawei's own Google-free Android software, so these can continue to be updated as normal.

We'll keep you posted as and when Huawei updates users about what this means for Android updates on older devices, but it's another blow for a company that has already seen a big hit to its business from US trade restrictions.

Via Engadget