VLC for Android bans Huawei phones after ‘unfair’ negative reviews

VideoLAN, the company behind the popular cross-platform VLC media player, has announced that users of some of Huawei’s newer handsets won’t be able to download the open-source player from the Google Play Store any longer.

The decision to blacklist the phone maker came after several VLC users left negative reviews on the Play Store for audio playback issues. However, VideoLAN holds Huawei responsible for audio failing on the app, blaming it on the phone manufacturer’s “ridiculous policy of killing all background apps”.

While all phone manufacturers look for ways to optimize battery life on their devices, Huawei’s aggressive solution is to kill all background apps whenever possible. This includes VLC, which needs to stay open for audio to continue playing while another app is being used.

Tactical move?

However, not all Huawei devices have been blocked from downloading the VLC app. We can confirm that the Huawei P10 no longer displays the player on the Play Store, but according to The Verge, VideoLAN has also blacklisted the Huawei P8 and P20, although there could be more. 

However, users of blacklisted devices interested in using VLC can still download the APK from the developer’s website. Only access via the Google Play Store has been blocked.

It’s still unclear whether existing users of the player will be affected or not, but Huawei owners are none too happy about this situation.

Responding to one user, VideoLAN tweeted (in French), “If an app [plays audio], it's normal for it to be in [the] background. Blocking the normal operation of Android is totally abnormal. Otherwise, just kill all the apps, and [don't] turn on the phone, it saves even more battery!”

Sharmishta Sarkar
Managing Editor (APAC)

While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, Sharmishta's main priority is being TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor, looking after the day-to-day functioning of the Australian, New Zealand and Singapore editions of the site, steering everything from news and reviews to ecommerce content like deals and coupon codes. While she loves reviewing cameras and lenses when she can, she's also an avid reader and has become quite the expert on ereaders and E Ink writing tablets, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about these underrated devices. Other than her duties at TechRadar, she's also the Managing Editor of the Australian edition of Digital Camera World, and writes for Tom's Guide and T3.