The Chinese technology giant, Huawei has announced its long rumored operating system, Harmony OS (Hongmeng OS in Chinese) as a supposed Android alternative based on a micro-kernel modular created by the company.
While Huawei maintains that HarmonyOS is quite different from Android and iOS with more scalability across different kinds of devices, like wearables, smart televisions, IoT devices, refrigerators, and cars, among others. The company touts its modular design as a “decoupled” OS from hardware, meaning that developers will adapt to the software with just one attempt, and it's also much faster than Android.
The first device to run the new OS, is the new Honor Vision TV launched by Huawei's subsidiary company, with the new TV also featuring a smartphone-style pop-up camera, albeit, Huawei did not project the new Harmony OS as a direct competitor to Android, rather it will serve as a sort of plan B should the US authorities go ahead with sanctions to withdraw their Android license.
Harmony OS has been in development since 2012, with the initial target to cater for IoT products such as wearables, smart displays, smart speakers and so forth, but the unforeseen US trade issue with China has forced the company to rethink its future, thereby mandating the transformation of the OS to support multiple platforms.
At the moment, the OS doesn’t support Android apps out of the box, but developers only need a single coding to recompile their Android apps to work in Harmony.
However, the huge challenge for the company will be on how to woo developers to join in Harmony and build up the much needed app ecosystem that could measure up to Android. Even though Harmony OS is an open-source operating system, Huawei will have to offer lots of incentives to increase developers interest in the new platform.
And perhaps, the modularized Harmony OS can be harnessed to adapt more with flexibility to any device to create a seamless cross-device experience, with the distributed capability kit leading to a shared developer ecosystem.