Huawei unveils Harmony OS, says won’t ditch Android for Smartphones

Ruben Fields
August 12, 2019

Complying with the trade blacklisting, Google made a decision to suspend some business activity with Huawei.

Huawei had previously given little information about the software, fueling speculation about how quickly or effectively it could find an alternative to the Android system.

While the company said that it now prefers to power its smartphones with Google's Android, it did not rule out the future use of its own system on smartphones. However, to make things a little bit easier, one of the advantages that Huawei are pitching for their operating system is the ability to more efficiently build apps that run on multiple devices thanks to a multi-device IDE. Some officials also see the rise of Huawei and other Chinese tech competitors as a potential threat to USA industrial leadership.

Huawei, China's first global tech brand, is at the center of a battle between Washington and Beijing over the ruling Communist Party's ambitions to develop companies that can compete in robotics and other fields. Its bigger rival Samsung Electronics has been using its own operating system called Tizen in smartwatches and televisions.

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However, smartphones using the system would mainly be confined to the Chinese market, Liew said. Huawei says there are more than 800,000 developers in its product ecosystem. Resources will gravitate toward tasks with higher priorities, reducing the response latency of apps by 25.7%. Apple and Google take a 30 percent cut for revenue generated through their app stores. Huawei says developers can compile a range of languages into machine code in a single environment, but it's unclear exactly how easy that will be for developers. The television will be available from Thursday in China and marks the first use of HarmonyOS, chief executive George Zhao said, adding that it will be marketed by its midrange brand, Honor. It also has roll-out plans for the OS in other devices till 2022. It will be released as an open-source platform worldwide to encourage adoption by other tech companies. At Friday's developer conference, which was held in a basketball stadium, Yu described Harmony's technical features and capabilities, to occasional bursts of raucous applause. Huawei said the first version of the operating system would launch later this year in its smart screen products, before expanding across a range of devices including wearable technology over the next three years. VIP tickets for the conference were priced upwards of 4,298 yuan (US$608.90).

Although the possibility of Huawei seriously losing its access to the Android ecosystem has only relatively-recently become a hot issue in the wider consumer space, the Chinese technology company has been quietly preparing for this for several years through development of its own operating system.

The company would have been able to ship 300 million smartphones this year without such restrictions.

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