Huawei announces Harmony OS as its potential Android replacement

Huawei announces Harmony OS as its potential Android replacement
After years of development and months of rumors, today Huawei has revealed a custom operating system called 'Harmony OS' at its annual developer conference in China.

It works on everything from phones and tablets to cars and computers


The new platform, which was previously referred to as Hongmeng OS, is based on microkernel just like Google's Fuchsia OS. CEO Richard Yu says this allows for flexible deployment across a wide range of categories including smart speakers, automobiles, computers, smartwatches, tablets, and, of course, smartphones. To ensure this compatibility, Huawei has ensured the platform can work with RAM sizes ranging from mere kilobytes to hundreds of gigabytes.

Apps built for the HTML5, Linux, and Android platforms "will all be able to run" on Harmony OS in the future. To make life easier for developers, Huawei will be providing access to its ARK Compiler which will help compile code from multiple languages including C/C++, Java, and Kotlin. A new SDK to ensure compatibility with different devices will also be provided by the company. To avoid any future security concerns, it has been confirmed that Harmony OS will not allow for root access, something Huawei says is a security risk on Android and other Linux-based operating systems.

Huawei's CEO reiterated the company's commitment to Google's Android platform and their wish to continue using it internationally. However, if at any point it "cannot use [Android] in the future," the Chinese giant will not hesitate to "immediately switch to Harmony OS." It's unclear if the company would receive access to Google's services should this happen, but the company boasted it could take as little as 1-2 days to complete the transition.

Despite being a relatively lightweight operating system, Harmony OS does still offer some performance boosts when compared to Android. Huawei didn't provide specific numbers, but it said the platform would feature a "Deterministic Latency Engine" which essentially allocates system resources using real-time analysis and forecasting. Android, on the other hand, uses the Linux Kernel's Completely Fair Scheduler which creates a timeline of future tasks to eventually distribute resources but is ultimately not as efficient. Harmony OS also speeds up the process in which the microkernel – the minimum software required for the OS to work – communicates with apps, files, and more. In fact, the speed of this communication is reportedly five times that of Google's Fuchsia. 

Harmony OS will eventually be an open source platform


The focus for Harmony OS at the moment appears to be the Chinese market, but Huawei isn't interested in limiting the platform to its own devices. Because of this, Harmony OS will be made completely open source at some point next year, therefore giving rival companies such as Oppo and Xiaomi the opportunity to co-develop the operating system with Huawei. Regardless of what happens, though, Huawei is more than willing to go it alone. Development on the current version of Harmony OS began two years ago, but this year the company has accelerated the process considerably and expects to bring version 2.0 to market in 2020 and version 3.0 in 2021.

Harmony OS 1.0 will be first adopted in Huawei's upcoming smart screen products, many of which are due to arrive  this year, including the new Honor Vision TV which goes on sales in China tomorrow. Over the course of the next three years, Harmony OS will be optimized further and deployed across a broader range of products including wearables, smart speakers, and many of the other categories mentioned above. Huawei hasn't yet confirmed plans to release a Harmony OS-powered smartphone, but reports suggest the company's Mate 30 Lite could ship with the operating system pre-installed.

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53 Comments

1. Hollowmost

Posts: 421; Member since: Oct 10, 2017

Very bad news for Google, Android market share will be shrinking fast...

8. Shkselectah

Posts: 44; Member since: Jun 26, 2018

in fact, if they enter the world market, the proportion of ios will decrease

18. joshuaswingle

Posts: 569; Member since: Apr 03, 2018

I doubt iOS will be affected much because Apple's the only brand that produces iOS. Android hasn't been able to eat up Apple's share of the market and Harmony OS won't either. However, it's arrival could potentially hurt Android. Google's OS will eventually be replaced in China on Huawei devices which equate for around 35-40% of the market I believe. And if Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi agree to co-develop, Android could basically be pushed out of China completely. In that scenario, these companies could also push to use it on international devices. In that case Google, Facebook and others would have no choice but to offer their services on the platform or risk losing access to millions of consumers. And if that happens, Android's market share in Asia and Europe will drop considerably. IMO, the success of Harmony OS globally depends on Xiaomi, Oppo, and others agreeing to co-develop. Huawei alone won't be able to do it.

19. xperian

Posts: 418; Member since: Apr 10, 2014

I wouldn't say this. I'm only using iOS because it's the only alternative to android. If HarmonyOS turns out to be good, I would probably switch

20. joshuaswingle

Posts: 569; Member since: Apr 03, 2018

It could certainly happen, I just think it's unlikely enough people will switch to dramatically affect iOS's share. Apple users tend to be more locked into the ecosystem than Android ones, therefore giving them less incentive to switch.

31. TBomb

Posts: 1394; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

I'd have to write an entire article to get all of my thoughts recorded since the topic is so big. However, here is some high-level bullets: I don't see Android getting completely pushed from China - in fact, I am hopelessly optimistic that this would push Google harder to develop Android and OEMs to offer support. I have a feeling it would be Android without the Google services piece (AOSP I believe?) Huawei has been so back and forth that I have to take this with a grain of salt: "Go ahead, ban us! We have Android rival." "We have Android rival... but not yet." "We don't have Android rival lolz." "We have Android rival!" I agree, some iOS users may switch, but not enough to care. It'll be the people who don't want iOS, but don't want Google even more. Also, it being Chinese will not help it be successful in western countries.

32. ScottsoNJ56

Posts: 95; Member since: Oct 01, 2017

Why do you think Apple users are more locked into their ecosystem? What other ecosystem can android users switch to?

35. joshuaswingle

Posts: 569; Member since: Apr 03, 2018

In most cases, it's pretty easy to switch from Android to iOS because you don't have much tying you to the ecosystem. Even if you have a smartwatch or wireless earphones they'll very likely work with an iPhone. Making the opposite switch, on the other hand, is much more difficult. Apple customers tend to stick with Apple products. That means that if they own an Apple Watch or a HomePod they'll be rendered useless when switching to Android. Similarly, AirPods lose access to Siri and Mac computers lose a few features too. The case for iMessage can also be made. It's not as popular as WhatsApp, but it's used quite often in the US and UK, for example.

36. sgodsell

Posts: 7207; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Google is not in China, and right now this OS is only in China. If you think Google is going to let Huawei walk all over Android in the western world. Then Huawei has another thing coming. How is this OS going to get access to run Google's app store with its millions of apps? If you think Huawei can start selling this OS with access to Google's apps and it's app store outside of China, then the laugh is on anyone that thinks that is going to happen. Unless Huawei pays Google a lot of money to get access to place their apps on their OS.

45. ZEUS.the.thunder.god

Posts: 1094; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

I agree with most of your points Joshua however You need take the second biggest market in the world, India into consideration. iOS is almost non existent in Indian market and it's highly unlikely to change. If Google can retain their market share in India, US and few other key markets, Android is going to be fine. I doubt Huawei would be able to push their platform outside China.

50. joshuaswingle

Posts: 569; Member since: Apr 03, 2018

As I said above, Harmony OS outside of China (on smartphones) likely depends on the participation of Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi and other Chinese brands. There's no way Huawei alone would be able to get Google on board.

54. OneLove123

Posts: 969; Member since: Aug 28, 2018

Doesn't Android own like 77% of the market share in the world? So, they haven't eaten to iOS share since the beginning of time? You're telling me that iOS has the same market share since they started?

2. ijuanp03

Posts: 568; Member since: Dec 30, 2014

Very good news for Google and other OEMs using Android. Huawei's market share will be shrinking fast...

4. redmd

Posts: 1926; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

Hmmm you might be right on this one.

5. ijuanp03

Posts: 568; Member since: Dec 30, 2014

BBK Electronics (owner of Vivo, Oppo and OnePlus) will rejoice if Huawei finally leaves Android.

6. mootu

Posts: 1500; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

Why? None of them use Google services in China which is where both their markets have the vast majority of their sales.

7. ijuanp03

Posts: 568; Member since: Dec 30, 2014

https://thenextweb.com/plugged/2019/07/15/huawei-wants-to-name-its-android-os-replacement-harmony-in-europe/ They filed an application in Europe for Harmony OS. Europe is not China.

47. mootu

Posts: 1500; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

Just because the filed an application means nothing, it's just there if they are forced to use it at a later date. They have stated all along they are commited to Android and will only use the new OS outside China if they are forced to do so.

3. redmd

Posts: 1926; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

For now, a third OS is less likely to thrive. But then again its Huawei so let's see.

9. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1377; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

It'll be interesting to see how this goes. They've made some bold claims about their Android replacement and with it being able to run Android apps, it stands a chance to make it. I'm definitely more interested in the performance side of things, they have claimed it's faster than Android on the same hardware so that'll be interesting to see. It could definitely end up being the kick in the ass Google needs to complete development of Fuchsia.

22. Plutonium239

Posts: 1199; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

Windows 10 mobile could run Android apps, but we saw what happened there. Nothing came of it. And windows 10 mobile was faster than Android on the same hardware.

24. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1377; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

Actually Windows 10 Mobile was due to get support for it, but it was never finished and by the time W10M came out the platform was already dead.

25. BearHug

Posts: 24; Member since: Jan 27, 2017

BB10 had support for Android apps, same end result.

39. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1377; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

And like with Windows 10 Mobile that platform was already dying.

42. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3123; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

You’re referring to the Windows Bridge Project which was shut down due to the rampant piracy being done. Windows had a similar project to port iOS apps which was called Project Islandwood. That collaboration resulted in the Facebook/Messenger app for W10M. But that’s as far as it went. Unscrupulous devs killed the idea of porting apps to Windows which is a shame. As you said, the apps ran better on Windows with the same hardware than their native counterparts.

10. Gryffin

Posts: 56; Member since: Dec 19, 2018

will it have spyware preinstalled or it'll arrive via software update?

12. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1377; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

When it does arrive you can bet it to be thoroughly checked and tested continuously. I doubt Huawei would risk it.

29. LiveFaith

Posts: 453; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

LOL. You win the internet today!!!

48. mootu

Posts: 1500; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

Would it make a difference if it did? Googles suite if apps is just one giant set of spyware designed to collect all data on end users. If Harmony does get released i for one will give it a try just to get away from Googles constant data mining.

51. Gryffin

Posts: 56; Member since: Dec 19, 2018

if x number of companies have your data and you start using this os then x +1 number of companies will have your data. So better not use it.

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