Chinese smartphone giant Huawei has partnered with Dutch location technology provider TomTom for the navigation company to build map services for Huawei phones. The deal TomTom will allow it to use the company’s maps, traffic information, and navigation software to develop its own mobile apps. According to a Huawei spokesman, the deal was struck a while ago but provided no specific timeframe.
Huawei formed the partnership in part to minimize the effects of a U.S. trade ban. The Trump administration placed Huawei on a trade blacklist called an “Entity List” in May 2019, saying the company is a national security risk that acts as a conduit for Chinese government espionage. The blacklisting means American companies have to seek government permission before dealing with Huawei.
As a result of the ban, Google suspended Huawei’s access to its Android operating system, as well as to Google’s proprietary apps and services, including Google Maps. While old Huawei phones still run on Android and have access to Google apps, new flagship models have no Google apps pre-installed and no access to Google App store. The phones cannot download Google apps either.
Whether Huawei will remain on the U.S. Entity List in the future is unclear, so the company has been taking steps to prepare for its Google-less future. Huawei recently revealed its own operating system, HarmonyOS, which the company plans to gradually roll out over the next few years. Last week, Huawei announced a $26 million fund for British and Irish developers to build apps for its App Gallery, its own version of the Google Play Store.