Huawei has outlined the strategy behind its Harmony OS software, which it said has been in development for years with the objective of building a unified, distributed operating system for multiple devices.
Huawei CTO Akhram Mohamed stressed that Harmony OS is not an Android replacement, as the company plans to continue focusing on its Android-based EMUI operating system for smartphones.
Mohamed said that when it comes to Huawei’s “Plan B” strategy, Huawei is still committed to Android, but in the event that it loses access to the Android ecosystem, it would be able to deploy the Harmony OS to its devices immediately.
“We now have something that’s working. If the need ever arises, in a matter of a day or two we would be able to deploy it on smartphones and it will work,” he said.
“Right now, we are still committed to the Android ecosystem and we want to continue using that,” Mohamed said.
“We are committed to the development of EMUI and Android, and Google sees the same thing. However, Huawei will not step back and not develop its own solutions.”
He noted that there were currently no smartphones running Harmony OS, and Huawei has no immediate plans to launch handsets with the operating system installed; instead, it will focus on IoT, smart devices, and the development of its ecosystem.
Huawei plans to develop its operating system to work across multiple hardware categories thanks to its microkernel architecture and distributed hardware sharing features.
Open-source and app migration
One of the major concerns with developing a new operating system is the availability of popular apps. Huawei has addressed this by offering incentives and resources for major developers to migrate their applications to Harmony OS.
Mohamed said that the side-loading of Android applications onto the OS would not work, as it runs on a different architecture.
“However, modifying Android applications to work on Harmony is very simple. You take your current application and you make a few tweaks to adapt it, and then it is customised to work in Harmony.”
He added that during its initial migration tests, developers only took around two days to migrate their apps to Huawei’s operating system.
“We have a resource pool of $1 billion dollars available to developers to aid them with app migration,” Mohamed said.
The allocation of these funds will initially be focused on migrating popular applications to the platform, as 80% of the funds are allocated to developers outside of China.
This quick migration of applications to Harmony is due to the company’s ARK compiler and purpose-built IDE, both of which make it extremely easy for Android developers to tweak their applications and launch Harmony OS-compatible versions.
Mohamed noted that, like Android, Harmony OS will be an open-source operating system, the development of which will be managed by a consortium of partners.