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Tech News

Honor 50 Google apps support is still uncertain

When Huawei got slapped with severe US sanctions, it took down its many subsidiaries and business with it. That included Honor, which was expected to be a rising star before that fate befell its parent company. Late last year, Honor officially and legally cut its ties with Huawei, which freed it to make partnerships that the larger company couldn’t. That seems to be true with Qualcomm, whose Snapdragon chip will power the upcoming Honor 50 series. Whether that phone will also see the return of Google Play apps and services, however, is still up in the air.

When Huawei was added to the US’ Entity List, it didn’t only lose access to hardware components and manufacturing materials but also to software products as well. In the context of smartphones, that meant it couldn’t officially and legally install Google’s proprietary apps and services even if it still had access to the open source Android operating system. Of course, those restrictions also applied to its sub-brand Honor who suffered the exact same fate as Huawei.

When Huawei sold off Honor, the latter’s doors were opened to partnerships with US companies. Just last week, it announced that its upcoming Honor 50 Series would be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 778G 5G chipset. Previous Honor phones, especially the notable ones, ran on Huawei’s Kirin silicon.

Naturally, that raised questions on whether the phones will also have access to Google Play Store now that Honor is free from Huawei’s fate. At first, it gave hope when the company’s Germany Twitter account replied in the positive. Unfortunately, that response was later removed even though the Internet never really forgets.

This removal could either be because Honor Germany spoke too soon or that it was mistaken in raising hopes. Either way, fans of Huawei and Honor phones will probably be keeping a closer eye on the Honor 50 because of this, even though there is no concrete date yet on when it will launch.

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Tech News

The New Wear OS is still uncertain for old Wear OS smartwatches

A lot of excitement was generated over the renewed attention that was given to Wear OS by Google, including collaborations with Samsung and Fitbit to grow that platform in ways it should have years ago. With all the buzz and hype, however, comes the question of when this new Wear OS will actually launch. It’s a given that it will be available on new models launching later this year but it is not yet known whether older smartwatches will be treated to the same features when the time comes.

There is, after all, a lot to look forward to with this upcoming version of Wear OS. After what feels like years of stagnation, Google finally rolls up all the much-needed features into one big release. From third-party Tiles to Samsung’s UI and watch face maker, Wear OS seems poised to feel completely new.

Unsurprisingly, there is a great deal of excitement among Wear OS smartwatch owners, but the certainty of them getting those updates aren’t yet written in black and white. In fact, Google’s plans and schedule for this upcoming Wear OS version are still so vague that a lot can happen between now and then to change the platform’s course.

Google tells 9to5Google that it will have more to share when the new Wear OS releases later this year. This could coincide with the launch of Android 12 itself but Wear OS often times lags behind that schedule. This also leaves the door open that some of those older smartwatch models may not get the update at all.

This will be a very disappointing turn of events but it wouldn’t be the first time that Google abandoned older generation hardware, whether or not they were still capable of running newer software. Hopefully, Google will be able to ride on the wave of interest in Wear OS and keep the good feelings going until later this year and beyond.

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Game

Nintendo’s Switch Production Plans Are Uncertain

Nintendo says that its current production plans for the Nintendo Switch are “uncertain” due to the current semiconductor shortage. The company says that it is unable to keep up with demand for the console.

The current semiconductor shortage has been an ongoing headache for the gaming world, slowing down console production. The Nintendo Switch has already been hard to come by over the past year, but a recent investor Q&A signals that the problem is only getting worse.

Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa tells investors that while the company was able to achieve steady production through 2020, it’s struggling to keep up.

“Demand for hardware continues to exceed our expectations even after the beginning of this calendar year,” Furukawa tells investors, “and production has currently not caught up to this high demand due to the tight supply and demand situation for semiconductor materials worldwide. Although we are currently striving to produce as many units as possible, the fact is that our production plans are more uncertain than they were at the beginning of previous fiscal years.”

Furukawa specifically cites the semiconductor shortage as the reason for the production trouble, saying that the company has “currently not caught up to this high demand due to this tight supply and demand situation.”

This week, Sony shared similar sentiments, warning that the current PS5 shortage may continue into 2022.

The news throws Nintendo’s 2021 plans into question. Recent reports stated that Nintendo currently has a new model of the Nintendo Switch in the works that was set to release this year. With production as tight as it is, it’s unlikely if Nintendo would be able to widely roll a new system out.

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Computing

Are Huawei laptops safe? Intel, Microsoft promise support, but the future remains uncertain

As the U.S. Government’s ban on Huawei grinds on, the biggest questions consumers likely have are whether that Matebook laptop on Amazon is safe to buy, or whether the Huawei machine they’ve already bought is safe. After all, if Intel, AMD, Nvidia, Qualcomm and other U.S. tech companies can no longer sell chips to the Chinese tech company, isn’t the company basically dead to you?

The answer likely depends on whether you care about Huawei’s future as a PC maker, or if you only care about your particular future with a Huawei laptop.

What the U.S. ban on Huawei means

The ban on Huawei, enacted in May, essentially forbids U.S. companies from doing business with the tech giant. Obviously, if Huawei is unable to buy CPUs from Intel or AMD, or graphics chips from AMD or Nvidia, let alone memory and storage from other U.S.-based companies, it likely means any future Huawei PC laptops are in limbo.

More important for consumers is what happens to the Huawei laptop in your hands, or the Huawei laptop sitting on the store shelf in front of you.

Huawei Matebook 14Dan Masaoka / IDG

Huawei’s Matebook 14 has one of the most unique ways ever to hide a camera in a laptop.

Microsoft and Intel will suppport Huawei laptops

The best news for potential buyers of Huawei laptops (and those who have them already) is Microsoft’s promise that those all-important Windows Updates will still get to you.

“We remain committed to providing exceptional customer experiences,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement given to PCWorld. “Our initial evaluation of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision on Huawei has indicated we may continue to offer Microsoft software updates to customers with Huawei devices.” The company didn’t detail any more of its policy, but that should ease fears that your Huawei laptop will develop unpatched security holes.

Security risks can happen at the motherboard level, too. With scary-sounding exploits like Zombieload, you may be wondering whether firmware updates for the UEFI/BIOS will also be available for a Huawei laptop.

The news there also looks good, as Intel has confirmed with PCWorld that it will provide security updates and drivers to end users running Intel chips.

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