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Huawei launches Harmony OS; to power its smart devices, but not smartphones

We missed this earlier.

On August 9, Huawei launched Harmony OS at their Developer Conference. Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Richard said the OS is faster and safer than Android.

Why this matters: Google has cut off its ties with Huawei after the US government prevented it from buying components from American companies. For now, Huawei can only use the public version of Android, but not Google’s proprietary apps and services including Play Store, Gmail and YouTube.

What’s different about Harmony OS? Yu emphasised Harmony’s cross-platform capabilities. He said Huawei’s smart devices like smart watches, smart screens, in-vehicle systems, and smart speakers will all run on this OS.

  • It’s also a micro-kernel based OS. In a nutshell, micro-kernel OS’ are considered to be safer and more efficient than hybrid kernels which power most OS’ today. Who else is working on a micro-kernel OS? Google, for its’s upcoming Fuschia OS.

Will Harmony OS also run on Huawei’s smartphones? This remains unclear right now. Yu avoided mentioning “smartphones” throughout the conference, according to a report. But he did admit that there might be a time where Huawei might not support the Android ecosystem.

Driving the news: On August 22, Vincent Pang, Huawei Senior VP said that that it had no plans for coming out with a smartphone running on Harmony OS. For now, it seems that Huawei is keeping its cards close and waiting for the 90-day extension it received from the US government.

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Huawei needs to have apps for Harmony:  For any OS to be a success, the biggest barometer is the kind and number of apps it has. A big reason why Windows failed on smartphones is because it didn’t have the repertoire of apps as Android and iOS. The same happened with Blackberry’s OS. For Harmony to be a success, it needs to get developers interested enough to build apps for the platform.

Harmony OS is also open source (like Android): Yu said that Huawei will release Harmony OS 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.

Which markets is Huawei targeting? According to Yu, Huawei will start from China and then expand it further to the global ecosystem.

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