Following months of speculation, it turns out Huawei was indeed developing its own operating system. Announced just recently, it's called HarmonyOS, a microkernel-based distributed OS that can be used in everything from smartphones and smart speakers to wearables and in-vehicle systems.
Huawei wants HarmonyOS, which will be called Hongmeng in its home country, to act as a shared ecosystem across those devices.
Huawei will release HarmonyOS as an open-source platform worldwide in a bid to encourage wider adoption.
Why Huawei Created HarmonyOS
Prior to this, there had been a longstanding guessing game as to what Huawei was going to do following Google's decision to suspend the company's Android license back in May, which in turn was because of the government's decision to put Huawei on the Entity List. Huawei didn't really keep Hongmeng a secret, but it was unclear at the time of speculation whether whatever it was making would replace Android entirely.
Huawei describes HarmonyOS as a "modularized [OS that] can be nested to adapt flexibly to any device to create a seamless cross-device experience," adding that it was built "via the distributed capability kit" and "builds the foundation of a shared developer ecosystem."
The company plans to release HarmonyOS on "smart screen products" sometime later this year before pushing it out to other devices, including wearables, over the next three years. The first of such products will be the Honor Smart Screen, which is due for an unveiling on Aug. 10. Huawei has yet to make clear what qualifies as a "smart screen device," though. Previously, Reuters reported that the OS would arrive on a range of Honor-branded smart TVs.
Develop Apps Once
Huawei's CEO of consumer business group, Richard Yu, distinguished HarmonyOS from Android and iOS by its ability to scale across different kinds of devices. He said developers can create their apps only once then deploy them across a range of different devices. The development process behind such a premise is not immediately clear, however, but it's similar to Google's Fuchsia OS, which promises to run on various devices.
There are, of course, several obstacles to properly distributing a new OS and making it matter, as iOS and Android reign supreme in the smartphone market. Huawei expects developers to recompile their apps for HarmonyOS, which will require resources, chief of them financial, and it's difficult to imagine anyone thinking that's a good idea, especially if the target OS doesn't have a huge audience base.