The future of Huawei’s smartphone ecosystem is uncertain following the blacklisting of the company by the United States government.
Huawei was placed on the US Entity List last month, prohibiting companies like Google and Microsoft from conducting business with the Chinese manufacturer.
The most immediate consequence of this trade blacklisting for consumers is the revocation of Huawei’s Android licence, which will prevent it from launching new smartphones with Google-certified versions of Android installed.
This also means that Huawei’s devices will not come pre-loaded with Google apps and services like YouTube, Chrome, or the Play Store.
Facebook has also suspended the pre-loading of its apps on Huawei devices – meaning new Huawei smartphones will not be able to ship with Facebook, WhatsApp, or Instagram installed.
The full effects of the trade ban have been postponed for 90 days, thanks to a temporary licence granted by the US government.
Huawei is resistant to this US assault however, with founder Ren Zhengfei stating that the company was prepared to take on the United States and would not be too adversely affected by the trade ban.
He added that Huawei has prepared for this eventuality and has certain backup plans in place to continue its operations as normal should the US prove uncooperative.
Ark OS design
Huawei has been investing a large amount of resources into research and development and has been working on its own operating system over the past few years to accommodate the possibility of US action against the company.
The operating system being developed by Huawei will need to run across its desktop and mobile platforms to ensure that it can continue to deliver smartphones and PC hardware to customers without the support of Microsoft and Google.
Information surrounding the operating system has begun to surface following the escalation of US actions against Huawei, and many reports state that the operating system was initially code-named HongMeng OS.
However, Huawei has since filed patents across the European market for a new operating system named “Ark OS”. Some publications have speculated that the OS would launch in the western market under this name.
The company’s patent filings include screenshots displaying the operating system’s interface, which shares some features with Android’s UI.
Some reports have also likened the clean layout of the leaked screenshots to iOS, although there is no official information available on the entire platform’s design and features.
Below is a leaked screenshot of the Weather App Info screen from the Ark OS patent filing.
Compatibility and performance
The design portrayed in the Ark OS screenshots features similar functionality to Android, and this has led many to speculate that Huawei is building its OS on the open-source version of Google’s operating system.
This is a possible solution which would result in the new operating system being compatible with Android applications, but Huawei will still be unable to pre-load Google apps and services on its devices.
HuaweiCentral recently reported that Huawei’s upcoming operating system would be compatible with all Android applications, including Google’s apps.
The Global Times also recently reported that Huawei’s upcoming operating system would be much faster than Android.
According to this report, HongMeng/Ark OS is 60% faster than Android and is being tested by companies including Oppo, Vivo, and Tencent.
Reports have placed the potential launch date of Huawei’s upcoming operating system at anywhere from as early as Q3 2019 to March 2020, when the company is expected to launch its new flagship smartphones.
Huawei has not issued any official statement regarding the launch date or rollout of its upcoming operating system for smartphones and PCs.