Huawei officially replaces Android with HarmonyOS

Photo: AP A worker adjusts a phone near a display promoting the HarmonyOS at a Huawei store in Beijing on Thursday, June 3

This morning in a livestream, Huawei officially kicked off the launch of Harmony OS - its in-house operating system and (among other things) its replacement for Android. The company also announced a new watch, a new tablet, and a new phone powered by the new operation system and said it would be updating a massive list of 100 different Huawei Android phone models to Harmony OS over the next year.

With today's announcement, Huawei looks like it has two completely different operating systems that it calls "HarmonyOS." First is the IoT and smartwatch version of HarmonyOS, which is based on Huawei's LiteOS and is open source. The second version of Harmony OS is for phones and tablets and is a fork of Android, which uses the Linux kernel (Huawei is very reluctant to admit this, as ArsTechnica stresses). Having what seems like two totally different operating systems share the same brand name leads to a lot of confusion, and you can make a lot of claims about the IoT version of HarmonyOS that don't apply to the phone version.

For instance, TechCrunch spoke to Huawei and reported "Huawei denied speculations that HarmonyOS is a derivative of Android and said no single line of code is identical to that of Android. A spokesperson for Huawei declined to say whether the operating system is based on Linux, the kernel that powers Android."

This statement is true of the IoT version but untrue of the phone version. Meanwhile, the company said the complete opposite thing to the German site ComputerBase, which quotes Huawei's software president as saying "To make sure our existing users can still enjoy the experiences that they are familiar with in our phones and tablets, Huawei uses the open source code from AOSP in HarmonyOS on the condition of complying with open source license rules and fulfilling related responsibilities and obligations."

In the wake of the US export ban on Huawei, the company is currently struggling to be independent from the US supply chain. China has plenty of hardware-component manufacturers that Huawei can rely on, but China doesn't do huge amounts of software development. So software is the company's biggest problem. HarmonyOS is supposed to be the answer to that problem, so Huawei wants to sell the OS as an in-house creation that allows it to break free of US influence.

As Ars Techinica puts it - Huawei doesn't seem to like it when you point out that Harmony OS for phones is heavily based on Android.

Similar articles