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Huawei announces own operating system HarmonyOS as Android ban looms

Huawei has announced its own home-made operating system called HarmonyOS at the company’s developer conference in China.

HarmonyOS will eventually work across personal computers, smartwatches, cars, smart devices and mobile phones, according to the firm – but has primarily been designed for smart devices.

The telecommunications giant had been rumoured to be developing a replacement for Google’s Android operating system after the US imposed sanctions on the Chinese company in May.

Image: Huawei smartphones currently use Google’s Android OS

But the new operating system isn’t really a direct replacement for Android, according to Richard Yu, who heads its consumer business group.

“HarmonyOS is completely different from Android and iOS. It is a microkernel-based, distributed OS that delivers a smooth experience across all scenarios,” Mr Yu said.


The microkernel design refers to minimising the amount of software interacting with the hardware of the computer devices to keep things secure and fast.

The operating system, which is the software that allows apps to run, will effectively be the same across different consumer devices manufactured by Huawei – including smartphones – and potentially those developed by other companies too.

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Google revoked Huawei’s license to use Android on it smartphones back in May in compliance with sanctions issued by the White House.

Although the White House issued a temporary reprieve to the export blacklist which prevented Google from providing Huawei with its licensed version of Android, that is set to expire later this month.

Image: HarmonyOS will work across different devices

Although the Chinese smartphone maker could continue to use an open-source version of Android on its phones, these devices would not receive security updates or access to the Google Play app store.

Mr Yu told the conference that if Huawei was left unable to access Google’s Android ecosystem it would be ready to rollout HarmonyOS to its devices straight away.

Image: Google designs the Android operating system

“The success of HarmonyOS will depend on a dynamic ecosystem of apps and developers,” the company announced.

“To encourage broader adoption, Huawei 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 market for HarmonyOS will be based in China, but Huawei stated it would seek to expand to the global market after the foundations were laid at home.


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