Huawei to launch its own HarmonyOS, after Android snub threat

Huawei has officially announced HarmonyOS, the operating system it was rumored to be developing to replace its reliance on Android. In China the software will be known as Hongmeng.

HarmonyOS is “the first microkernel-based distributed OS for all scenarios,” consumer group CEO Richard Yu told attendees at the Huawei Developer Conference. The company says the distributed OS, can be used in everything from smartphones to smart speakers, wearables, and in-vehicle systems to create a shared ecosystem across devices. The operating system will be released as an open-source platform worldwide to encourage adoption.

Huawei to launch its own HarmonyOS, after Android snub threat
Huawei to launch its own HarmonyOS, after Android snub threat

The new platform supports smartphones, smart speakers, computers, smartwatches, wireless earbuds, cars, and tablets. In fact, Yu says the platform supports RAM sizes ranging from kilobytes to gigabytes.

Huawei plans to launch HarmonyOS on “smart screen products” later this year, before expanding it to work on other devices, like wearables, over the next three years. The first of these products will be the Honor Smart Screen, which is due to be unveiled on Saturday. Huawei is yet to explicitly say what constitutes a “smart screen” device, but Reuters previously reported that the OS would appear on a range of Honor smart TVs. The focus for the operating system will be products for the Chinese market at first, before Huawei expands it to other markets.

In a statement the CEO of Huawei’s consumer business group, Richard Yu, says that HarmonyOS is “completely different from Android and iOS” because of its ability to scale across different kinds of devices. “You can develop your apps once, then flexibly deploy them across a range of different devices,” the CEO said.

Previously, it’s been unclear whether HarmonyOS would be an operating system for smartphones or for internet-of-things devices. It now appears that it’s designed to power both, similar to Google’s experimental Fuchsia operating system, which is designed to run on various form-factors.

The U.S. ban complicates Huawei’s ability to offer Android on its phones, so HarmonyOS is seen as a plan B if the trade ban affects Google’s ability to support Huawei in the future. In fact, rumors suggest that the Chinese brand is working on a Harmony OS phone for release later this year.

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