Huawei has announced HarmonyOS at HDC 2019, its Developer Conference in Donguan, China. HarmonyOS is the company's cross-device operating system that could, in theory, compete directly with Android and iOS, while also working across many more device categories.
Given the political turmoil that has plagued Huawei over the last year, it’s little wonder that the Chinese tech giant has taken a defiant stance at its Developer Conference 2019 and presented an Android alternative. That said, it also refrained from committing to any switches from Android just yet, instead, positioning HarmonyOS as a supplementary operating system… for now.
Huawei claims that HarmonyOS is a much more lightweight, efficient operating system than Android. Despite this, it is still able to deliver powerful functionality across devices. Of course this includes smartphones, but HarmonyOS will start life as a smart device OS.
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By taking a "single kernel across devices approach", Huawei hopes to create a shared ecosystem so that an app can be developed just once and then work – whatever the device on which it’s deployed. It also works with Android apps, by the looks of things, which is handy.
The first HarmonyOS device looks set to be the Honor TV – a television with a pop-up webcam, which is expected to be announced on day two of the developer conference.
With the company's new smartphones like the Huawei P30 Pro (opens in new tab) sporting a Harmony OS Kernel already, they will be able to create next-generation proprietary experiences as soon as the OS is rolled out. An example of this would be casting video calls from your smartphone to a TV, or calls to a smart speaker.
HarmonyOS will also feature on watches, speakers and car head units down the line, but isn't limited to these device categories; in theory there’s no reason we couldn’t expect a HarmonyOS-powered DSLR, too, especially given the fact it’s an open-source platform.
As for smartphones, though, Huawei was very clear that it's sticking with Google for now:
"When can we put it on our smartphones? We can do it any time, but for the Google partnership, and efficiency, the priority will be for Google Android OS ... If we cannot use it in the future, we can switch from Android’
It's clear that Huawei is walking a tightrope. The smartphone manufacturer is still making Android devices, and is reliant on its partnership with Google to do so. Rather than position its new OS as a direct Android competitor, for now, it’s a device-agnostic, supplementary OS leading the charge for cross-device operating system efficiency.
If Trump turns off the Google tap for good in the future, though, Huawei is ready – and now, the world knows it.
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