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Huawei-Google smart speaker project closed by US restrictions




Huawei worked with Google to take on Apple's HomePod and Amazon's Echo smart speaker series with a jointly produced device, a report claims, but the close cooperation came to an abrupt end in May, just before President Donald Trump and the US government imposed restrictions on Huawei.

The Chinese electronics company worked with the search giant on the project, which would have seen Huawei produce a smart speaker powered by Google Assistant, it claims. The speaker had been intended for markets outside China, with the United States as the main target for the product.

"We worked on this project with Google for a year and made great strides. Then everything stopped," advised an unnamed Huawei employee of The Information . The stop was probably due to the sudden restrictions placed on Huawei by the Trump administration, which stopped US companies from using Huawei equipment as well as restricting what Huawei could obtain from US-based companies.

It is understood that Huawei's plans were to unveil the new speaker at September & # 39; s IFA trade show in September, but it would not be the first from the company. In 2018, Huawei launched AI Cube, a two-in-one smart speaker with Alexa built-in, as well as 4G routing capabilities.

The restrictions were put under Huawei's coverage as a national security risk. Reports in May around the time of the action suggested that Huawei installed a backdoor in the network of an unnamed telecommunications company, with the likely links to the Chinese government possibly allowing it and other undiscovered backdoors to be spied.

Despite the suspicions of security agencies, Huawei has repeatedly denied that it has done anything wrong. The company has even cited Apple as its role model for privacy, in terms of how it protects user data.

Part of the impact of the restrictions was Google's cancellation of Huawei's Android license, preventing smartphones from accessing the Google Play Store and accessing mainstream Google apps such as Gmail, YouTube and Chrome. While Huawei could use the Android Open Source Project, it has also been suggested that it may come with its own operating system and associated ecosystem.

Before the restrictions were introduced, Google and Huawei also discussed the collaboration in other areas, including adding Android Auto compatibility to the company's smartphones. Since the change in the relationship, Huawei has reportedly only interacted with Google through meetings and conversations accompanied by attorneys, to ensure compliance with the sanctions.

Although there have been motives for relaxing some of the limitations of Huawei, as well as a current temporary suspension, it may not necessarily allow Google and Huawei to work together in the same way as before. Huawei has been working to find alternative ways to produce its products that do not rely on US-based suppliers, such as producing its own components and other key technologies, to minimize exposure to additional US authorities.


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