At HDC 2019, Huawei has finally announced its own operating system and its not called HongMeng. The Chinese telecom giant is calling its operating system as HarmonyOS. The HarmonyOS is being introduced as a distributed operating system for a cohesive user experience. Huawei aims to use it as a single operating system that works across its smartphones, laptops, wearables and even IoT devices. The operating system will debut first on Smart Screen from Honor, scheduled to launch in China tomorrow.
Huawei became the biggest victim of the ongoing trade war between the US and China. The tensions escalated when Huawei was put in an entity list by the US Department of Commerce. This restricted US tech companies from supplying to Huawei. As a result, Huawei was blocked from getting Google Play version of Android and Windows from Microsoft. With HarmonyOS, Huawei is trying to build an operating system that will work regardless of form factor.
At the Developer Conference, Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group confirmed that it is not dropping Android from smartphones. HarmonyOS is being developed as a contingency effort so that it has an alternative to Android and Windows. Yu told the audience that it will take the company only few days to migrate from Android to HarmonyOS but it is not taking that direction just yet. An OS that works across form factors has been the dream of device and platform makers for years.
Apple tried and eventually ended up creating different OS for different platforms. Google is working on Fuchsia as a unified OS for different devices but has not shared much details. With HarmonyOS, Huawei has the first operating system with cross-platform support. Yu said developers will be able to write code for one device and deploy it across form factors. The OS is built using a microkernel with a secure architecture and seamless collaboration across devices. For developers, Huawei also announced its ARK compiler that works with multiple coding languages.
Huawei has further confirmed that HarmonyOS 1.0 will be first adopted in its smart screen products. It will be then adopted on a broader range of smart devices over the next three years. In order to encourage developers, the company is also making it open-source worldwide. Huawei is the leader in 5G networking equipment and with workloads moving to the edge, it has an OS that can challenge US tech firms. The big question is whether consumers are prepared for an alternate operating system right now.