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Answering your questions on Huawei devices and Google services (support.google.com)
21 points by sohkamyung 39 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 26 comments

That is akin to effectively eliminating a market player overnight. It's like saying "Sure, you can still sell bikes, but you can't include Wheels. Oh and using after market wheels is not recommended."

This somehow feels very sad and unfortunate, especially given the amazing handsets that Huawei puts out (P30 Pro).

It's a shame really. Also goes to show what happens when monopoly over anything is established. Especially in this case, where your phone is almost unusable as most publishers won't opt to publish on 17 different platforms.

It is even worse than that. If I was an Android user I'd probably think twice before buying and new Chinese phone. Today it is Huawai, tomorrow some other Chinese manufacturer. Even if this kind of thinking is unfounded, it will have chilling effect on Chinese phone sales overall.

"This somehow feels very sad and unfortunate, especially given the amazing handsets that Huawei puts out (P30 Pro). ..."

Well, it's all in the eyes of beholder, isn't it. Franky, as I see it, that P30 Pro won't have Google's crappy spyware installed is an absolute blessing (it saves those who don't want Google spying on them a great deal of trouble by not having to root the phone, which is now quite difficult given that Huawei has stopped handing out keys to unlock the bootloader).

[BTW, I don't like Huawei one iota as a company but from my experience from using its technology—both phones and other communications equipment—I have found that it works very well indeed. It's often the small attention to detail that counts and that makes all the difference: for example, the OTG port on many of Huawei's smartphones reads NTFS drives directly out of the box without any mucking about—most other phones do not (they're usually limited to FAT32 and exFAT), which is a damn pain! In the past, this feature has been so important to me that I've chosen Huawei over other brands specifically because of it.]

> P30 Pro won't have Google's crappy spyware installed

Yes, but it has its own crappy spyware installed.

> it saves those who don't want Google spying on them a great deal of trouble by not having to root the phone

You don't actually need root anyways. XDA has a walkthrough on disabling system APKs [1] - meaning one is able to (and I have, on my BlackBerry KeyOne) disable Google Play Services, the Services Framework, Play Store, and anything else you don't want running.

[1] https://www.xda-developers.com/disable-system-app-bloatware-...

Thanks for raising that, XDA provides much useful info and it is often the first place to start. However there's many instances where certain apps cannot be uninstalled or disabled. For example, often Google Play Services cannot be disabled let alone uninstalled without rooting the phone.

It's difficult to imagine Huawei allowing themselves to be forced out of the lucrative international market for mobile devices, especially as they are bound to remain a strong player within China, where Google is irrelevant. Instead, they will now be more inclined to invest in freeing themselves from Google's stranglehold, and be more brazen about as they have not much to lose. In particular, I wonder will this affect Huawei's membership in the "Open Handset Alliance," [1] which (ironically and contrary to its name) is about constraining how its members can release Android devices in exchange for Google's blessing.

Other Chinese manufacturers also seem to have got the message and are pushing with initiatives like the "Global Developer Service Alliance," [2] an app distribution mechanism independent of the Play Store. Although it's too early to say if anything comes out of it this time (similar attemps have failed before), one way or another this will lead to more competition in the long run, which is a welcome development for all the users, regardless if they ever entertained the thought of purchasing a Huawei device.

Separately, the literal reading of Google's statement is also that side-loading Google Apps on top of AOSP or LineageOS should be expected to cease working anytime. So far they have been allowing a way out on a per-device, per-account basis, [3] so it's interesting to see whether they'll be willing to close that loophole now, although it seems to be hardly in Google's interest and contrary to the very purpose of Android.

1. http://www.openhandsetalliance.com/oha_members.html 2. https://www.gdsa.com/en 3. https://lineageos.org/Google-Play-Certification/

I wouldn't be seen dead using Google's GApps on my mobile. Before even inserting a SIM card for the first time on a new phone, I disable or remove all of Google's GApps. (If they can't all be fully disabled, then the phone is rooted and they're just uninstalled/removed completely).

I find it ironic and rather quite delightful that the US Government is in some small way aiding and abetting what many of us would love to see happen which is for the public to reclaim its public telephone system back from Big Tech, Google et al who usurped and monopolized it without our or anyone's permission.

That Huawei is the reason is all the better. Huawei won't take this lying down, and having seen how capable the company is and what it's done to date, it'll almost certainly find a solution/be successful. When Huawei is seen to be successful sans Google this hopefully may inspire others to do the same (or encourage new startups not already encumbered by Google's contracts/terms of service which make it difficult for current players—which, incidentally, is a monopolistic, restrictive trade practice).

As Governments have consistently failed to protect both us and the internet from these damn monopolies then perhaps this unusual form leverage is the only chance we'll get. Thus, we should take full advantage of the situation whilst it lasts.

Quite ironic for you to place so much hope in Huawei to end Google monopoly. Huawei as an entity with ties to China government (someone who has one of the worst human rights and privacy track records in the world ) should deserve less trust and hope than Google. I don't know how you can think otherwise.

Perhaps, just perhaps he is considering their competence to help in end Google's monopoly, rather than their ethics - which is orthogonal and irrelevent to the task.

I'll be interested to see how Huawei responds. They already sell a lot of phones in China with no GApps so they must have their own ecosystem of sorts. That said, I suspect that whatever Huawei does will be just as bad (or worse?) for user privacy and control than what Google currently does.

"That said, I suspect that whatever Huawei does will be just as bad (or worse?) for user privacy and control than what Google currently does."

Of course, from my experience—having removed both GApps and Huawei crapware from its phones in the past—you are absolutely correct. Not only is this time-consuming and difficult (as one has to root the phone) but also it's usually outside the capability (or desire) of most users. Even then, one has to assume it's not a complete solution but only an amelioration thereof (as we don't have access to the source code).

My rationale is that often one finds that solutions to problems are quite circuitous and things can actually get worse along the way before improving. Whether that's likely in this instance remains to be seen (it seems to me that taking any possible opportunity was better than none).

Their best move is to make WeChat the operating system. Hell, there are already >50 000 mini-programs that run inside WeChat.

Then get maps from the Europeans. Then sponsor the development of the top 20 local apps in their top 50 markets.

Then zero rate chat in selected markets.

And bribe every third world regulator. This is what the British keep the channel islands for.

Hold up bro. The only thing you've ever posted on HN - and you posted it a lot - is that you never put a SIM in a phone.

Come on, can you please follow the site guidelines? There's no need for personal swipes, especially ones which are trivially untrue. It took me a few seconds to find https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21948286.


Thank you sir.

Hi Dan. I see that my account has been penalized again. What should I do about that?

"The only thing you've ever posted on HN - and you posted it a lot - is that you never put a SIM in a phone"

Granted, when it comes to mobile phones I whinge a lot because I reckon that users have been screwed terribly by both telcos and the likes of Google and Apple. By any measure, users have certainly come off second best.

Your point about this matter being the only thing that I mention on HN is simply ridiculous.

For others who may perhaps read this, the only thing I can say in my defense is that if you actually read the contents of my previous posts then you'll note that the subjects I comment upon are both varied and quite diverse. :-)

That's absolutely true—all my personal internet-accessible phones never have SIMs installed, internet access is always via Wi-Fi via external routers (which, of course, do have SIMs). Moreover, my own personal phone (with a separate number and different carrier) is a dumb phone sans internet access altogether.

I would further add that as a comms person I work with phones regularly, for this I have separate test accounts and in some instances SIMs are used in them directly (especially if one is testing the phone's wireless circuitry etc.—obviously without a SIM[1] you cannot fully test the device). Nevertheless, such phones are nearly always rooted and have GApps removed (or otherwise have them disabled/hibernated).

BTW, I like people like you who actually take a rigorous approach to what people say and take the time to cross reference their various comments. It's even nice to know someone has taken the time to read what I've written.


[1] For testing I also use 'dead' SIMs (ones whose telco accounts are now defunct) as well as prepaid not-yet-activated accounts. Often 'test' SIMs are useful for checking the phone's GSM/HSPA/LTE electronics (as limited communications can even established with the telco). Using SIMs that are incapable of carrying normal data traffic has the advantage that the phone can be tested without information such as its serial or IMEI number being sent to Google. (And occasionally I've even asked telcos to disconnect both data and SMS services to avoid 'accidents'.)

I would add that if someone wants me to either maintain or root his or her phone and the owner has yet to provide me with a working SIM (which happens often enough) then I do so with one that cannot access or send data across the internet. As I see it, I don't have the right to link someone's phone that doesn’t belong to me to any other account or phone number that does not belong to the owner.

Well a 'dead' SIM in an LTE Android phone with 4G pictograms means a few things, e.g. the phone hardware is okay,...

... and SIM has valid certs, GPS time is synced to few split seconds, your eNB tower-your Uu up/down freqs, timeslots are assigned and mutual auth is passed, cyphering(can you believe it? "encryption" and "cryptography" are apparently deliberate word choice to light up normies, "they" proper say "cipher") is set up, HSS(heard those are Oracle DB) through MME is accepting your IMEI + IMSI + credentials, HLR has your location, VLR has you mapped to operator's home EPC if you're roaming, your IP address is assigned(LTE is all IP), PCRF is configuring your QoS stuff, S-GW is routing your packets to P-GW, your IMSI-IP map is sent to SMSC and SIP sessions for VoLTE call signaling as well as for SMSC is up, your BS(eNB) is maybe aware of your location, speed, direction of your movement for handover purposes, and by the way one of many accounting database somewhere in there probably a table referred to by HSS says your contract is not valid as far as it knows when and only when you try to request something paid. (I'm pulling these all out of my curious nerd memory so lots might be missing, outdated or unbalanced.)

So yeah testing a phone with testing SIM works... Just a few dozen Oracle Cisco Huawei Ericsson Nokia Alcatel gears has your everything in the database.

Good points* with which I agree. None of the stuff I do is 'cloak and dagger' so leakage of that info doesn't matter. My only aim is to minimize the data Google siphons from one's phone—information that I believe has been unfairly obtained by Google because of its market monopoly and the fact that it's effectively usurped the phone network for its own benefit.

I am in no doubt that the moment a SIM is inserted into a phone and it's switched on that the activities you've outlined happen—and all that gear you've mentioned then "has your everything in the database". For my purposes, that all that gear has soaked up info is essentially irrelevant (as it's going to happen anyway the first time one makes a call).

If I was being rigorous (or up to some nefarious mischief) and did not want any of that data to leak (at least until I was ready) then I'd disconnect the phone's antenna and/or conduct the work within a Faraday cage to stop the the radiation. Also, there are other details and steps I'd take but I'll deliberately refrain from mentioning them.


* "I'm pulling these all out of my curious nerd memory so lots might be missing, outdated or unbalanced."

Ha, right. Then even if you're not fluent, I reckon you'll be familiar with all those books/standards that deal with such matters—ones that just about put Encyclopaedia Britannica to shame. Seems to me no normal human (even propeller-head nerds) could retain all that detail. :-)

Maybe he will start with putting a SIM in a Huawei phone.

...this didn't answer anything for me. Can or can't you sideload Google services?

It will depend on (a) the state [upgrade status] of your phone and (b) the version of GApps.

If you have both a phone and GApps of similar vintage (similar/compatible release dates, etc.) which were developed and released before this imposition was forced upon Google then it should update.

The way I read that document is that code generated from now on will test the hardware and if it's found to be incompatible with the directive then it will not install. Simply, I read this statement to mean that for the foreseeable future you will not be able to sideload current or newer release of GApps onto Huawei phones.

The only true way to find out is to try it.

I'm not sure if the answer maybe got updated or not, but for me the text in bols clearly says that sideload will not be possible.

Says it will not work reliably.

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