Huawei Technologies reportedly announced that it is preparing to switch from using Google’s Android operating system to its own Harmony OS. The company’s head of consumer business group, Richard Yu Chengdong unveiled the latest version of Harmony OS at Huawei’s developer conference being held in Dongguan, China, according to multiple reports, including those by the South China Morning Post and CNBC. The proprietary OS would be released in Huawei phones in 2021. The moves assumed significance as Huawei has been unable to use Android in its phones since May 2019.

Background: Huawei is currently caught in the cross hairs of the US government that has imposed several sanctions on Huawei and other Chinese companies and apps, citing national security. In May 2019, the US Department of Commerce added the Chinese smartphone maker and 70 affiliates to its “Entity List”, effectively prohibiting the company from importing, exporting or using American technology. In August this year, another 38 other Huawei-affiliate companies were added to this “Entity List”.

Why is Harmony OS important for Huawei?

After Huawei made it to the US government’s blacklist, Google had to cut ties with the company, and cancelled its Android licence. This meant Huawei could no longer use Google’s proprietary apps and services such as the Play Store and Gmail.

Earlier this year, Huawei released its flagship phones for the world market, all of which were severely handicapped because of the lack of Google services and apps. Although the company became the biggest smartphone maker in July this year, largely thanks to its Chinese sales, its worldwide sales had taken a hit, according to a CNBC report.

On Thursday, Yu reportedly said that Harmony OS 2.0, the latest version that is now open to developers, would be released on all of its consumer smartphones as early as next year. The company reportedly claimed the operating system could work also across a number of different devices such as smartwatches, TVs and in cars. Yu added that Huawei was working on expanding the Harmony OS’s app ecosystem.

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