What just happened? Following many months of rumors and speculation, Huawei has just officially revealed what could potentially be an Android replacement for its smartphones. At its annual developer conference in China, the company lifted the lid on ‘Harmony OS.’
We’d heard reports that Huawei was working on its own operating system, previously known as Hongmeng, even before the Trump administration added the company to an Entity list back in May, which prevents US organizations doing business with the Chinese firm without a license from the Commerce Department.
Huawei filed trademarks for Hongmeng in June, though it muddied the waters when an exec later said the OS wasn’t designed for smartphones. Earlier this week, however, it was reported that the company had been testing a smartphone running its in-house operating system, and that a reveal was on its way.
HarmonyOS has just been announced at #HDC2019! How are we going to build an all-scenario smart ecosystem and experience? How will we overcome the challenges of future OS for connected things? Stayed tuned with us to find out. pic.twitter.com/x7ZbgcEy2d— Huawei Mobile (@HuaweiMobile) August 9, 2019
True to that report, Huawei has just shown off what is now called HarmonyOS. The open-source platform bears several similarities to Google’s upcoming Fuchsia, in that both are microkernel-based and designed to work across a number of devices, including tablets, IoT devices, smartwatches, computers, smartphones, and more.
A modularized #HarmonyOS can be nested to adapt flexibly to any device to create a seamless cross-device experience. Developed via the distributed capability kit, it builds the foundation of a shared developer ecosystem #HDC2019 pic.twitter.com/2TD9cgtdG8— Huawei Mobile (@HuaweiMobile) August 9, 2019
Huawei talked about some of Harmony’s features, claiming that its IPC performance was five times that of Fuchsia. It added that it uses a deterministic latency engine that provides "precise resource scheduling with real-time load analysis and forecasting and app characteristics matching." There’s also a big focus on security, with the OS having a verified TEE (Trusted Execution Environment), keeping data secure across multiple smart devices.
For the first time, #HarmonyOS will have a verified TEE (Trusted Execution Environment). Improving connected security across multiple smart devices in a connected all-scenario world #HDC2019 pic.twitter.com/o1TF54Hjkc— Huawei Mobile (@HuaweiMobile) August 9, 2019
Harmony will support apps built for HTML5, Linux, and Android, and it is set to launch on “smart screen products”—expected to be smart TVs—later this year before arriving on wearables and laptops across the next three years. Huawei said it will only be used in its smartphones if it is no longer allowed to use Android. With the Trump administration reportedly putting Huawei licenses on hold, that scenario is looking more likely by the day.