Huawei to challenge Android and iOS with own HarmonyOS

Huawei to challenge Android and iOS with home-grown HarmonyOS

09 August 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Chinese vendor Huawei has launched its move to make its phones independent of US-originated software.

The company – still faced with a possible ban on using Google’s Android operating system (OS) for new phones, has announced HarmonyOS, which it calls a distributed operating system.

Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business group, said in a presentation in Dongguan today: “We needed an OS that supports all scenarios, that can be used across a broad range of devices and platforms, and that can meet consumer demand for low latency and strong security.”

The US government added Huawei to its entity list of banned companies in May, potentially stopping updates of Android on existing phones and putting Android on new launched.

At the time the vendor protested, saying: “Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry.”

Founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said last month the US ban means the company will “use components made in China and other countries”.

Industry rumours have been pointing to the repurposing of Hongmeng, initially an OS for internet of things (IoT) applications, for mobiles. Now, Yu has confirmed the rumours – though by portraying the renamed HarmonyOS as a benefit rather than a defensive move against US embargoes.

“We’re entering a day and age where people expect a holistic intelligent experience across all devices and scenarios. To support this, we felt it was important to have an operating system with improved cross-platform capabilities,” he said in Dongguan today.

“HarmonyOS is completely different from Android and [Apple’s] iOS. It is a microkernel-based, distributed OS that delivers a smooth experience across all scenarios. It has trustworthy and secure architecture, and it supports seamless collaboration across devices. You can develop your apps once, then flexibly deploy them across a range of different devices.”

Addressing the lack of apps for HarmonyOS – compared with the huge ecosystem for Android and iOS Huawei said it will release HarmonyOS as an open-source platform, worldwide. “Huawei will also establish an open-source foundation and an open-source community to support more in-depth collaboration with developers.”

The company pointed out: “China is home to a strong app ecosystem and a massive user base.” Huawei said it “will lay the foundations for HarmonyOS in the Chinese market, and then expand it further to the global ecosystem”. The company “will work closely with ecosystem partners to deliver apps and services that provide consumers with the best possible experience and bring new life to the industry”.

The company said that, for equipment vendors, HarmonyOS “will help them gain a first-mover advantage in the age of holistic intelligent experience, where 5G, AI, and IoT will see explosive growth”. The new OS “will enable developers to win over more users with less investment, and rapidly innovate services across all scenarios”.

Yu said: “We believe HarmonyOS will revitalize the industry and enrich the ecosystem. Our goal is to bring people a truly engaging and diverse experience. We want to invite developers from around the world to join us as we build out this new ecosystem. Together, we will deliver an intelligent experience for consumers in all scenarios.”