Think you’re living in a hyper-connected world? Huawei’s proprietary HarmonyOS wants to eliminate delays and gaps in user experience when you move from one device onto another by adding interoperability to all devices, regardless of the system that powers them. Two years after Huawei was added to the U.S. entity list that banned the Chinese telecom giant from accessing U.S. technologies, including core chipsets and Android developer services from Google, Huawei’s alternative smartphone operating system was unveiled.
On Wednesday, Huawei officially launched its proprietary operating system HarmonyOS for mobile phones. The firm began building the operating system in 2016 and made it open-source for tablets, electric vehicles, and smartwatches last September. Its flagship devices, such as Mate 40, could upgrade to HarmonyOS starting Wednesday, with the operating system gradually rolling out on lower-end models in the coming quarters.
HarmonyOS is not meant to replace Android or iOS, Huawei said. Instead, its application is more far-reaching, powering not just phones and tablets but an increasing number of intelligent devices. To that end, Huawei has been attracting hardware and home appliance manufacturers to join its ecosystem.
To date, more than 500,000 developers are building applications based on HarmonyOS. It’s unclear whether Google, Facebook, and other mainstream apps in the West are working on HarmonyOS versions.
Some Chinese tech firms have answered Huawei’s call. Smartphone maker Meizu hinted on its Weibo account that its smart devices might adopt HarmonyOS. Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi are much more significant players than Meizu, are probably more reluctant to embrace a rival’s operating system.