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Google Duo & Messages: are some Honor and Huawei phones getting locked out?

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In recent updates to Google Messages and Google Duo, hints were discovered that suggest that the apps will soon no longer be available on some Honor and Huawei devices. We can only speculate about the reasons for Google's decision, but there is an initial trend.

In particular, users of current Huawei or Honor smartphones, which have had to do without Google's apps for some time, at least ex-factory, could be affected by new restrictions in the future. Users of these non-certified devices who have manually installed Google Duo or Google Messages on these devices should expect to soon no longer be able to use the apps, according to text found in the two messaging apps by 9to5Google.

Certified devices have gone through a testing process by Google that allows the manufacturer to pre-install various Google apps and Google services on their smartphones or tablets. This is not allowed in the case of Huawei, for instance, due to US government restrictions.

NextPit Huawei Mate 40 Pro screen
Mate 40 Pro owners may soon be affected by Google's stricter rules. / © NextPit

Duo and Messages: Google prepares to end support

In Google Duo version 123, which recently became available in the Play Store, Google writes that "Duo is going away soon". "Because you’re using an unsupported device, Duo will unregister your account on this device soon," the text continues. Following that, Google advises downloading any clips and call history. Google doesn't give a specific date in the case of the video chat app.

The situation is different with Messages. Here, Google also writes that the app will soon no longer run on non-certified devices. At the same time, they have given the message a date: the end is supposed to come here on March 31st.

Reasons for the change are unclear for now

Why Google is removing support from the two apps on non-certified Android devices is not certain so far. However, the company had said back in February 2020, specifically for the Huawei case, that it was advising against manually installing its own apps. The reasons given were user security and privacy concerns.

This could now be the background to the restrictions on Google Duo and Messages. Both apps offer encryption of calls and messages respectively. If a user takes advantage of the so-called sideloading, the manual installation of an app outside the Play Store, Google can no longer guarantee that it is unchanged.

A manipulated app could, for example, grab users' messages before they leave the smartphone. This would leave encryption with limited utility. It's possible that Google now finds this risk too great and therefore prefers to leave users out in the cold altogether in the future by making Messages and Duo unusable.

AndroidPIT google duo test 7950
Google Duo might soon stop running on non-certified Android devices. / © NextPit

Check the certification of an Android smartphone

Whether the own device is certified, a look in the Google Play Store shows. In the menu, you open Settings and swipe down. At the very bottom, Google provides information about the certification of the device used.

The vast majority of Android users, however, should not notice any of the adjustments that have now appeared, since they use certified devices that were equipped with Google's apps and services from the factory. However, owners of current Huawei smartphones in particular, such as the Mate 40 Pro or P40 Pro, could potentially be affected by Google's stricter approach.

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  • 49
    storm Jan 22, 2021 Link to comment

    This is why root and ROM are critical to the phones one should buy. If you believe in actually owning your device and being in control of what's on it, you must Root and ROM.

    Linux phones will offer full control as well, but root is yours by default there.