How Huawei’s Harmony OS could take on Android

Huawei is preparing its own mobile operating system, HarmonyOS, to be well-positioned to replace Android if the need arises.

The Chinese manufacturer has recorded impressive smartphone sales in 2019 despite being affected by the US-China trade war.

The trade restrictions mean that newer Huawei devices, such as the Mate 30 smartphone series, foldable Mate X, and MatePad Pro tablet are unable to support Google Mobile Services (GMS).

Nevertheless, devices released before the trade ban came into effect are still able to carry Android with its Google services, as well as receive OS updates.

As a potential Plan B, the company has punted its own mobile OS as a fall-back option, should Google be forced to cut off support for Android on upcoming Huawei devices.

Chief Technology Officer of Huawei South Africa, Akhram Mohamed previously told MyBroadband that the company would be able to roll out a working OS to its consumers immediately.

“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,” Mohamed said.

OS availability

Huawei first showcased HarmonyOS running on an Honor Vision TV in August 2019.

At the beginning of December, it was also revealed that the company would be rolling out the OS to more of its devices in 2020, although it plans to continue using Android on its smartphones.

More versions of HarmonyOS are expected to be available on devices such as smartwatches, smart speakers, and smart screens.

The HarmonyOS edge

The fact that HarmonyOS is expected to be open-source from August 2020 will likely speed up the development of the operating system.

Add to this that the Huawei OS possesses several inherent design advantages, and it may not be long before it is considered a serious competitor to Android.

The first of these advantages is the distributed architecture of HarmonyOS, which Huawei has claimed will make it faster than Android.

Whereas Android contains many unnecessary lines of code and legacy problems, the distributed architecture offers a less cluttered code structure.

Additionally, HarmonyOS has a microkernel design. Since the most basic services are performed within the microkernel, this offers superior security and lower latency.

By contrast, Android executes around 1,000-times more code with its Linux-based kernel.

Moreover, Huawei’s ARK compiler and purpose-built IDE (application suite) would make the migration of applications to HarmonyOS easy, as it simplifies the process of tweaking applications for Android developers.

This will eliminate the need to redevelop an app for multiple devices.

Lastly, its capability to allow for easy inter-device connectivity on a range of different devices from various manufacturers makes the OS even more attractive.

Unknown future

Huawei has made it clear that it is not developing HarmonyOS as a direct competitor to Android.

Whether the trade war will escalate so far as to completely cut off future Huawei users from Android, remains to be seen.

It is evident though that Huawei will not leave owners of its devices hanging dry if the worst-case scenario should be realised, promising continued support and the best experience possible.

The end result may be an alternative mobile operating system that could rival the world’s dominant mobile platform.

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How Huawei’s Harmony OS could take on Android