Google pulls Huawei's Android license: 5 reasons not to panic (yet) if you own a Huawei phone

The future just got a little dicey for millions of Huawei fans. Following a Trump administration Executive Order last week that put Huawei in the U.S. government’s crosshairs, Google has reportedly pulled its Android app, search, and Play Store license from the smartphone giant, leaving future phones in doubt and current handsets in limbo while the details get sorted out.

So far, the two companies have been doing their best to tamp down the doom and gloom while being purposefully vague about what happens next. In a statement, Google said, “For users of our services, Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices,” while Huawei assured users that it “will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally.”

There’s a lot gray area within those words. But the bottom line is, nothing is changing right now. Your Huawei P30 Pro or Mate 20 will continue to function as normal, and you’ll be able to download, delete, and update apps as you’ve always been. And there’s good reason to believe that things won’t change for a while,

1. Transitions take time

We’ve only just heard about Google’s decision to revoke Huawei’s license, so it will likely be a very long time before the effects are felt. Even if it’s a universal ban, removing apps, search, and the Play Store from Huawei phones isn’t as easy as flipping a switch, as Google’s services are intertwined into Android and Huawei’s EMUI skin. So your Huawei phone will work the same today as it did yesterday and likely will for many months to come while the two companies work out how an Android world looks without Google.

mwc huawei Peter Sayer/IDG

2. Existing phones might be exempt

We don’t know the full details of Google’s license revocation, but there’s a chance that phones that are already on the market will be exempt from the decision. Huawei had a contract in place with Google that covered all of its phones, and it sold them to customers based on the inclusion of the Play Store and Google’s services, so lawyers and executives will need to come to an agreement. There’s a lot to be worked out by Google, Huawei, and the U.S. government, and until then, older Huawei phones will likely still receive security and app updates as they did before.

3. Huawei likely has a plan

While the news that Google has cut off Huawei’s Android license is definitely shocking, it’s not all that surprising. The U.S. government has had it out for Huawei for a while, and a soft ban on selling Huawei’s handsets in the United States was already in place. Google’s move represents the so-called nuclear option, but Huawei had to anticipate that something like this could happen at some point. So the company likely has several plans in place, including a ground-up redesign of its EMUI OS that doesn’t include any Android source code and several contingency options that replace Google’s services. Of course, that raises just as many questions—the least of which, how secure it would be—but I’m quite sure Huawei’s engineers are hard at work on the solutions.

4. EMUI OS isn’t affected

It’s important to note that no matter how and when the license revocation goes into affect, Huawei’s core EMUI code won’t be affected. That’s because it’s based on the Android Open Source Project, which is fully free for anyone to use, no matter their status or relationship with the U.S. government. So while Google can block the use of its apps and the Play Store on Huawei phones, most of what you know about EMUI could stay intact if Huawei chooses. Of course, it’s unlikely EMUI will operate the same way without things like the Play Store, Chrome, and Google Maps, but it’s possible. 

huawei mate 10 pro full Michael Simon/IDG

The Huawei mate 10 Pro might never feel the effects of Google’s license ban.

5. Google doesn’t want to hurt users

The fact of the matter is, Google has as much to lose in this fight as Huawei does. It’s not just that it’s relinquishing a major client, it’s that millions of users already own Huawei phones running Android and Google apps on them. If apps are broken, updates stop coming, or Play Store security is compromised, is reflects just as poorly on Google as it does on Huawei. So Google will likely work with Huawei and the U.S. government to come up with a solution that’s amenable to all parties and doesn’t leave Huawei phones vulnerable to attack.

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Save $100 on the luxurious Bowers & Wilkins PX Active noise-cancelling wireless headphones

A solid set of noise-cancelling headphones can be a lifesaver in offices, commutes, homes, and all the other noisy places you spend your life. And today, you can get one of our favorite pairs, the luxurious Bowers & Wilkins PX Active noise-cancelling wireless headphones, for $300 on Amazon. That’s down from a list price of $400 and the lowest we’ve ever seen them.

“The Bowers & Wilkins PX headphones’ excellent audio fidelity and solid noise cancellation make these a set of headphones all but the most fussy audiophiles will be happy to own,” we declared in a glowing 4-star review of this headset.

These headphones feature soft leather-covered padding in the headband and ear pieces for long-term listening comfort, with integrated sensors that pause your audio when you take them off. Built-in buttons help control the volume, accept phone calls, play and pause your music, and turn noise cancellation on and off. Perhaps most importantly, though, these headphones deliver an outstanding listening experience.

B&W PX wireless noise-cancelling headphones Bowers & Wilkins

“Over the week that I tested the PX, I found that the headphones produced deep, warm bass with punchy mid- and high-frequency sound,” we said in our review. “If you listen to dance music, modern rock, pop, or R&B, you’ll be thrilled with how the PX sound…I could listen to these things all day—and I have been.”

And today, they’re $100 off. Don’t miss this deal if you’ve been looking for a high-quality set of wireless cans that can make the outside world disappear.

[Today’s deal: Bowers & Wilkins PX Active headphones for $300 on Amazon.]

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Logitech's couch-friendly K600 TV keyboard has never been this cheap

If you’ve been pining for a couch-friendly keyboard with an integrated trackpad for the living room, today’s your lucky day. Amazon dropped the price of the Logitech K600 TV keyboard to $50. That’s down from a $70 list price, and the $60 street price this keyboard recently hovered around.

The keyboard has a 15 meter wireless range using an included USB dongle. It works with Windows and Mac PCs, as well as Android and iOS devices. Being a living room-focused peripheral, the Logitech K600 can also connect directly to select smart TVs, including Samsung Tizen-based units from 2016, LG TVs rocking webOS 2016 or newer, and Sony Bravia sets running Android TV 2016 and up.

Logitech equipped the K600 TV keyboard with helpful media keys, allowing you to perform the usual media key tasks, such as playing and pausing, and adjusting volume or screen brightness. It’s handy stuff when you’re sitting several feet away from your screen.

We reviewed this keyboard in late 2018 and came away pretty impressed. We liked that it emphasized thumb control via the placement of the trackpad and media keys. It was also really easy to set up. If you’re looking to navigate webpages on your TV, you  might find the lack of a way to quickly scroll problematic. Otherwise it’s a handy device for people unhappy with a traditional hand held remote.

[Today’s deal: Logitech K600 TV keyboard for $50 on Amazon.]

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The Lutron Aurora handily solves the smart bulb, dumb switch predicament

Anyone who’s installed smart bulbs in their home will tell you that they instantly—and annoyingly—turn into dumb bulbs when someone turns them off by flipping the switch on the wall. Lutron showed me its solution for this problem at CES last January, and the lighting manufacturer is finally preparing to ship its Lutron Aurora smart bulb dimmer.

This $40 device (which will be available only in white) fits over most toggle-style switches and prevents them from being flipped to the off position. But unlike the ugly devices that do only that, the Aurora can also control Zigbee 3.0 smart bulbs, including Philips Hue. It can’t change colors or color temperatures, but it does have a button that can turn the bulb on and off, and a rotary dial around the button that you can turn to dim and brighten the bulb.

One Aurora can control up to 12 Zigbee smart bulbs, or as many as 50 bulbs if they’re connected to a Philips Hue Bridge. And those bulbs don’t need to be electrically connected to the switch on which the Aurora is connected—just as long as any switch those bulbs are connected to remain in the on position. Lutron says you’ll be able to configure which bulbs you want each Aurora to control from within the Hue app.

aurora lv room Lutron

The Lutron Aurora converts a toggle switch into a smart-bulb dimmer, while also preventing the toggle switch from cutting power to the bulb.

In scenarios where a smart bulb is on a multi-way circuit, you can install one Aurora dimmer on each switch in the circuit. If the bulb is turned off at one location, it can still be turned on from any other Aurora-controlled switch on the circuit.

The Lutron Aurora smart bulb dimmer is now available for pre-order at MeetHue.com for $39 and is expected to ship in June. It will also be available for purchase online at Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, and Home Depot.

Unfortunately for homeowners with rocker-style switches, Lutron doesn’t currently have a solution for them. When I asked about that, a spokesperson responded: “[Lutron] will continue to innovate and introduce the products and solutions that fulfill our customers’ wants and needs.”

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FileShadow review: 100GB of free online storage plus local data backup and consolidation

FileShadow is a free backup program that’s grown up. It started as a very nice cloud storage consolidator with advanced search and sharing abilities. It could transfer from various online storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive to its own facilities, as well as tag photos and perform OCR on your PDFs. Good stuff, but not PC backup. 

Stop the presses! Or actually, start them up: The company has added both Windows and macOS backup clients. Good thing—free 100GB storage accounts don’t grow on trees these days. 

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best free backup services. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them. 

Setup, design, and features

Signing up and setting up FileShadow to mirror your online storage accounts is simple. Just create a user name and password,. When you choose an account to mirror, tell whatever account you’re tapping into that it’s okay by again entering a user name and password.

As to the desktop client, that’s a mere download/run/select-the-data you want to back up kind of operation. It really is that simple.

The three options I’d really like to see begin with the ability to back up data found on your local network. I have quite a bit of stuff that only resides on a NAS box. Another is the ability to duplicate the backup to a local drive. The other is a performance throttle. More on that in a bit.  

file shadow18 IDG

FileShadow’s online interface is easy, and the search functions are great, but the mix of flat and 3D just miss the mark. If that’s all I have to complain about, we’re all in luck. 

While I love having 100GB of storage available, and the ability to easily search it for what I want, I’m not loving the look of the FileShadow interface. The slightly weird mix of flat and 3D interface elements looks a bit old-school, but not the part of school you want to remember.

But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’m tired of super-slick interfaces pasted on backup programs with features that don’t work, or are difficult to use. I was also quite impressed with how fast and accurately it found files. Backup is a critical operation. Your software needs to be bulletproof. 

Performance

Transferring data from your online storage services to FileShadow takes place remotely, so you’ll never notice a performance hit. But the FileShadow PC client is a CPU hog, climbing as high as 50 percent usage on the Core i7-2600/SATA SSD system I tested in on. That’s noticeable when it comes to subjective performance of windows, especially when the operations involve disk access. Most backup programs have a throttle setting that restricts the amount of CPU usage. FileShadow’s needs one badly.

fileshadow 2 IDG

The FileShadow client interface is simple and easy. But backups utilize so much CPU that it’s slow to appear, as is the system icon and its menu. 

The FileShadow client itself also becomes quite ponderous when a backup is running. When I right-clicked the client icon in the system tray, the menu didn’t appear, only a thin line, yet I somehow managed to quit the program using said invisible menu. It took several occurrences before I realized that this was what was happening and the program wasn’t just crashing. 

The upside, I suppose is that the backup proceeded at very decent speed. This will obviously vary by your broadband’s upstream bandwidth. I have a fairly large pipe that closes in on about 1MBps.

Long story short; the FileShadow client works in that it backs up your files, but it needs refinement, to put it mildly. 

Conclusion

Exactly how could I come to a negative conclusion concerning a free 100GB storage account? Especially one that consolidates all your online and local data into one place while making it searchable and shareable. The would only happen if FileShadow chewed your local data to pieces or didn’t work. It didn’t and it does.

A more modern look and a client that doesn’t slow down your system are in order, but it does the job. I say take advantage, the sooner the better. 

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