harmony os huawei

Huawei rolls out HarmonyOS with minimal changes from Android

Image credit: reuters

Huawei has begun rolling out HarmonyOS, its in-house smartphone operating system that was developed as a replacement for Android after it was banned from using it.

While all of the Chinese firm’s smartphones came with Android preinstalled up until 2019, then-US President Donald Trump placed it on a list of blacklisted companies, restricting its access to much of their hardware and software over cyber-security concerns.

The blacklist prevented Huawei from working with any US firm, including Google, which develops and maintains Android, although that did not stop it using AOSP, Android’s underlying source code based on an open-source licence.

Since then, Huawei has been releasing devices based on its own version of AOSP that could run apps developed for Android but was not able to use any of Google’s services like the Play Store, Maps, Chrome or Gmail.

It has now distanced itself from Android, claiming that its Harmony OS presents a new experience for users.

“The user experience of HarmonyOS has surpassed the experience of the Android era. We solved issues such as the slowing down and lagging of devices over time in the Android era,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer unit, in an online product launch event.

“Our HarmonyOS has stronger functionality and endurance, and it will be the greatest operating system in this Internet of Things era.”

But despite the rhetoric, HarmonyOS is still based on the same foundations as Android, can still run apps developed for the platform, and has many of the features included in Android 11.

According to Arstechnica, mentions of Android could still be found within HarmonyOS and it is virtually “identical” to previous versions of Huawei’s Android skin EMUI.

Huawei will start rolling out the operating system on selected smartphone models, even offering users the chance to switch from Android if they want.

HamonyOS was first revealed in August 2019, just months after Trump’s ban came into effect.

At its launch event yesterday, Huawei unveiled a new smartwatch that is also said to be running HarmonyOS. However, that product is in fact running a different version of the operating system designed for IoT and wearables specifically that is not based on Android but Huawei’s in-house LiteOS instead.

Once the world’s largest smartphone maker, Huawei fell out of the top five globally last year, nudged aside by South Korea’s Samsung, according to data from market research firm Canalys.

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