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Huawei dares to dream with rollout of HarmonyOS

Chinese tech giant Huawei has officially launched its own operating system as a commercial proposition and is positioning it as a unified platform for all devices.

With HarmonyOS Huawei is essentially trying to make a virtue of necessity. US restrictions mean it’s not allowed to use proper Android on its devices anymore, meaning it has no choice but to develop its own alternative. It seems to lean heavily on the Android kernel, which is open source, but needs to build its own developer and services ecosystem from scratch. Luckily for Huawei, it has the world’s biggest consumer market to try stuff out on.

Today’s HarmonyOS event was a protracted livestream featuring the standard slick corporate videos and Jobs-esque hyperbole. On top of replacing all the apps, etc, that have been denied it by US restrictions HarmonyOS 2.0 is all about creating one platform to rule and bind all the devices. Not only can it run on devices with as little as 128Kb of RAM, it claims to make connecting them all together much easier.

The presentation frequently toyed with the concept of a ‘super device’ in which widgets on the phone turn it into a control panel for everything else. Whether this means they will all automatically work in concert, a bit like when loads of Transformers get together to form one super Transformer, was unclear. Nonetheless trying to out-Apple Apple is certainly ambitious.

There was a seemingly unending recital of features and benefits that you’d be better off reading about yourself here. Other than that a few new devices were unveiled, including a smart watch running HarmonyOS. There was also some muttering about Huawei’s inability to launch its new flagship P50 smartphone because America won’t let it get hold of the components it needs.

It seems HarmonyOS will be made available to pretty much all Huawei devices over the course of the next year, with the company gamely describing it as an upgrade. They may even be true in China, but in the rest of the world, the absence of the most popular apps available through the Play Store will probably be too great a price to pay for most consumers.


One comment

  1. Avatar Cletus the Clown 02/06/2021 @ 9:15 pm

    After reading the damning Ars Technica review in Feb: https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/02/harmonyos-hands-on-huaweis-android-killer-is-just-android/ – I might just have to skip this.
    It’s the same thing all the time with the Chinese – telling us something 50000 times from 50000 angles doesn’t make it true. This is not an original operating system, so dont tell us it is. If you were more honest about things, maybe the reception would be a little better.

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