What to expect from Huawei’s new operating system

Huawei recently unveiled its new HarmonyOS 2.0 operating system, which it said would begin to roll out to its smartphones from next year.

The company said that HarmonyOS 2.0 brings a comprehensive upgrade to the operating system’s existing distributed capabilities, including its software bus, data management, and security.

“In April 2021, we will open it to 128MB-4GB devices and in October 2021, HarmonyOS will be opened for devices above 4GB,” Huawei CBG CEO Richard Yu said at the Huawei Developer Conference earlier this month.

Yu also confirmed that Huawei will launch its first smartphone running HarmonyOS in 2021.

It is important to note that HarmonyOS has been in development for some time, with the system being built from the outset to run on a variety of connected devices.

HarmonyOS uses a microkernel architecture that is designed to enable distributed connectivity, and it comprises the following four key building blocks:

  • A deterministic latency engine
  • Improved security through a Trusted Execution Environment
  • A modularised format which can adapt to various hardware types
  • A distributed architecture

Due to its microkernel design, there will be no root access available – theoretically making the operating system more secure than a platform like Android.

MyBroadband spoke to Huawei South Africa chief technology officer Akhram Mohamed about what to expect when it comes to HarmonyOS-powered devices rolling out locally.

Rollout in South Africa

Mohamed was unable to confirm whether smartphones with HarmonyOS installed would arrive in South Africa in future.

However, he said the country is a key market for Huawei’s global strategy and that the rollout of any smartphones which potentially ran HarmonyOS 2.0 would depend on the development of the operating system and the supported devices.

“HarmonyOS has been something that has been part of Huawei’s plan for around a decade now,” Mohamed said. “It is something that was being built anyway but that was fast-tracked.”

He noted that South Africa has historically been among the first regions to receive new hardware, although he could not confirm if and when HarmonyOS 2.0-powered devices would launch locally.

HarmonyOS vs Android and iOS

There has speculation around how this software will compete with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems on mobile once it becomes available for smartphones, but Mohamed noted the importance of distinguishing between these mobile-specific systems and the unified HarmonyOS platform.

“HarmonyOS has been something that has been part of Huawei’s plan for around a decade now,” Mohamed said.

“Because HarmonyOS is completely brand-new in the space, it is more focused on the distributed architecture. When it comes to connected experience, that is when HarmonyOS is going to come to the fore.”

“Android and iOS are mobile operating systems – HarmonyOS is going to be an all-scenario smart experience operating system,” he said.

He said HarmonyOS is a brand-new system that will set the benchmark for the future of how smart devices communicate and operate.

“In terms of our development with HMS, a lot of Harmony’s capabilities have been migrated over to HMS,” Mohamed said.

“Harmony is going to be so much more than that.”

Now read: Huawei South Africa stays strong after dropping Google services

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What to expect from Huawei’s new operating system