Huawei despite the trade restrictions announced huge profits last year largely due to sympathy buys and solidarity by the Chinese people and genuine African patronage .
The Chinese tech giant introduced its Harmony OS to the world last year as an alternative to Android OS but have yet to put it on a phone.
The company managed to get authorization to continue using Google Android with its Google Apps and Playstore. Other products namely Smart TVs are already running on the Harmony OS and Huawei’s next Smart watch may run the OS.
With the friction with U.S government not looking to quite down any time soon, the company may be forced to ship one of their 2020 releases with the Harmony.
So what do we know about the OS and will it successfully replace or favourably compete with Android?
What is it?
The Harmony OS or “HarmonyOS” known as “HongMeng” OS in China was first announced in August 2019 is a cross platform OS that is currently aimed at IoT devices such as smart displays or smart home equipment. The first product with the operating system is Honor TV, although more similar products have since been announced, including Huawei TV.
How much does it cost?
The Harmony OS does not cost a dime to use but its products namely smartphones and smart TVs will come at a cost but Huawei phones are affordable so that shouldn’t be a problem. Huawei has adopted a free for all policy with their OS. They have to really if eventually they are forced to ship the OS on their phones, the free to all access will go a long way in helping its acceptance and adoption by other OEMs. What’s more, it’s open source like Android.
When will it be released?
The global release date for the Harmony OS has not been announced. In China, some devices already run the OS. Honor TV and Huawei TV are examples. The company is pretty much radio silent about the global release of its OS but we can speculate based on the frictions with the U.S government that Huawei may release a phone sometime this year that will run on Harmony.
How does it work?
According to Huawei, with the rise of IoT devices arises the need for more streamlined codes. For a fact, the best IoT devices now runs on considerably less memory than an average smartphone hence the need to less codes to run if these devices are to run efficiently. The big claim is that for every 100 lines of Android code, you only need one line of Harmony code code to achieve the same functionality.
By adopting a single kernel across all devices, the Chinese tech giant hopes to achieve a cross device ecosystem for apps running on the OS, bypass silos, and save developers plenty of time. Basically, the same app that runs on smartphones, will run in on a smart fridge, car, smart watch and TV.
The idea bring to memory a similar attempt by Microsoft with the windows 10 and Windows mobile. Both shared the same kernel delivering a write once use everywhere platform but the idea failed for lack of flexibility and maybe due in part to some bad management.
While Microsoft failed, Huawei seem to have learned a vital lesson from that. The Harmony OS will support Android apps!
Harmony OS started as a TV OS, to create opportunities for seamless casting and fluid across devices, so a user could be on a video call on their phone, cast it to a TV in the kitchen, then continue it in the living room. After that, they could take a phone call, moving from room to room, with the call following them around jumping from one smart speaker to another.
The OS like Android is open source. Down the line it will ship with smart watches, speakers and car head units. It’s open source nature will engender it to developers around the world, plus other manufacturers may jump on the train. We may soon see a Samsung line with an Android versions and an Harmony version.
So will Harmony OS replace Android yet?
Huawei’s Yu was clear on this one;
“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’.
The Huawei Mobile Services which is what the company has dubbed the mobile version of the Harmony OS may debut on a device this year given that the U. S could at any give time stop Huawei’s use of the Android again.
Huawei’s President of Global Media suggested that implementing a viable alternative for Android will take more time to complete. All the more suggesting that the company is not ready to launch and all out war against Android for the time being.
So the Harmony OS will not be replacing Android on Huawei devices or other devices anytime soon. Nevertheless, as Yu pointed out during the announcement of the OS, if ever a switch was necessary it would be “quick and easy”.