VideoLAN on computer screen

VLC retaliates against Huawei, blacklisting its smartphones

Image credit: Dreamstime

VLC media player, which was developed by the Paris-based non-profit VideoLAN project, is a free, open-source media player capable of running on various platforms and operating systems and supporting a huge range of file formats.

Following disgruntled users leaving the VLC app one-star reviews, complaining of problems with the app, VideoLAN has announced that it will be blacklisting recent Huawei devices. According to VideoLAN, these users are unhappy with complications which are entirely due to Huawei’s own decisions.

The most recent Huawei devices prevent background apps from running unless they are Huawei apps. This prevents users from being able to, for instance, listen to music with VLC media player’s background audio playback feature while texting or using their web browser. The policy was introduced due to Huawei prioritising the preservation of battery life on its devices.

“[Huawei] phones are now blacklisted and cannot get VLC on the Play Store. Their ridiculous policy of killing all background apps (except their own) breaks VLC audio background playback,” VideoLAN wrote on Twitter.

VideoLAN have said that users can manually disable Huawei’s strict battery life optimisation settings, although most do not know how to this.

As a result of the decision, people using the Huawei P8, P10 and P20 will be unable to download VLC player from the Google Play Store. However, given that VLC is open source, determined users could still download the APK directly from VideoLAN’s website.

VideoLAN’s latest tweet suggests that the organisation may eventually be able to find an agreement with Huawei: “We finally got an answer from Huawei. We hope to find a solution on this, in the next few weeks.”

Chinese telecommunications manufacturer and operator Huawei - the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer after Samsung - has been the subject of allegations of espionage in the US, Australia and elsewhere due to its close relationship with the Chinese government. In January, the Australian security agency decided to exclude Huawei from an undersea cable project over fears of espionage. In the US, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to forbid the use of government subsidies to buy equipment from companies deemed a national security risk, including Huawei and fellow Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE.

The UK cybersecurity watchdog – the National Cyber Security Centre – has also warned telecommunications companies not to use Huawei equipment or services, as this could threaten national security.

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