Despite the looming Trump Ban on China and Google's revocation of Huawei's Android license, the Chinese OEM has now rolled out its Android "skin," EMUI 9.0, to seven devices: the Huawei Mate 10, Mate 9, Mate RS, Mate 20 Lite, P20, P10, and the Huawei Nova 3. The Android OEM confirmed the new skin update rollout at Twitter on June 3rd.
The new EMUI 9.0 update for these devices brings first, Android 9.0 Pie, Google's major system update from 2018. Since EMUI is an Android "skin" or overlay, it lies upon Google's vanilla Android.
What this means is that users get not only basic Google apps and Play Store access, but also new and unique features that Huawei wants its customers to enjoy.
While skins provide features that Google doesn't supply, some view skins as negative because they often weigh more in size than Google's updates and can slow down phone performance.
EMUI 9.0, then, is an update to Huawei's own feature set, along with Google's own additions in Android 9.0 Pie.
Android 9.0 Pie brings features such as Adaptive Battery, Adaptive Brightness, new screenshot notifications, redesigned media controls, app actions, and even digital wellbeing.
Adaptive Battery uses artificial intelligence (AI) to improve battery life by learning when you use apps and when your phone is at rest. Ultimately, AI learns to put your phone to sleep at times you don't use it and have it ready to use when you do.
New screenshot notifications allow you to share, save, and edit screenshots after you take them without forcing you to view your gallery or phone files.
Redesigned media controls are just a new take on what controls to volume and "power off" look like.
App actions bring up apps you use at the specific times of day you use them so that you need not search for them when you want to do a certain action.
As for Huawei's Android overlay, EMUI 9.0, fortunate users are looking at additions to Huawei's own features such as GPU Turbo 2.0, AI video editor, HiVision, Simple Navigation Gestures, Wireless Projection, and Wireless Printing.
GPU Turbo 2.0 not only helps games run smoothly but also adds advanced temperature control to keep your smartphone running cool during intensive gameplay.
AI Video Editor works to intelligently edit photos and distinguish between you and family members so as to create separate highlights for you and those you love.
HiVision uses AI to tell you more information about a particular place you point the camera at (think of it as a starter to augmented reality).
Navigation Gestures allow you to enjoy the entire screen without software buttons occupying your screen real estate.
Wireless projecting allows you to project what's on your small smartphone screen to the big screen, and wireless printing lets you print anything from your phone on a wireless printer (sharing the same internet connection, of course).
For Huawei Watch GT users, the Chinese OEM has rolled out firmware update 220.127.116.11, bringing the much needed Always On Display to the Watch GT in a 3.2MB download. The new update not only brings the AOD but also improves heart rate monitoring and adds a new feature to turn off the screen when covered, among other things.
Huawei is still updating these devices because, despite the Trump Ban looming overhead, the Chinese OEM still has some three months (thanks to a government reprieve) before it is effectively cut off from Google's Android.
On May 19th, Google issued an Android license revocation to Huawei in light of the US's trade conflict with China and its fears that Chinese entities such as Huawei are merely "spy tools" for the Chinese Government.
Huawei has up until August 19th to update its devices to the very best of Android it can grab (minus the upcoming major system update, Android Q, mind you) before losing contact with Android altogether.
This means that Huawei can still send security patches, and even update its EMUI 9.0 Android overlay because it still has access to Android 9.0 Pie.
Android Pie will be its last major system update unless the US and China reach a trade deal agreement sometime within the next two-and-a-half months.
Huawei has its own operating system in the works called ARK OS, but sources say that it isn't anywhere near ready for primetime.
Of course, Huawei may have no choice but to go with it if the company intends to launch newer devices later this year. Samsung and Tizen have shown that, even with lots of financial resources at one's disposal, launching a new OS that rivals Android is hard to do, if downright impossible.
Unless China and the US reach an agreement, Huawei will find itself up the mobile creek without an OS paddle.