Huawei was the world’s greatest cellphone maker—till the US imposed damaging sanctions in 2019. Amongst different issues, it banned Huawei from utilizing the official model of Google’s Android working system on its smartphones. Now, the Chinese language tech large hopes it could stage a comeback by growing its personal working system: HarmonyOS.
Huawei rolled out HarmonyOS for its newest smartphones right now (June 2) and introduced it might replace older telephones to the brand new working system all year long. The corporate’s acknowledged purpose is to reduce its reliance on Android, and develop a rival working system that may compete with both Android and Apple’s iOS, which presently present the working techniques for nearly each smartphone on earth. Impartial reviewers, nonetheless, have concluded the working system is just Android’s open-source code under a new name.
Tech observers are optimistic HarmonyOS can catch on within China, the place there’s appreciable political stress to create homegrown alternate options to US tech choices. And even when HarmonyOS is only a copy of Android, it no less than has the imprimatur of a Chinese language tech large to make it appear to be a real home different. But it surely’s much less clear if HarmonyOS can grow to be a real competitor overseas, particularly provided that US sanctions nonetheless stop Huawei units from incorporating popular apps from American tech giants like Google and Facebook.
Huawei first launched HarmonyOS in August 2019, 4 months after Google revoked the Chinese tech giant’s license to use its Android operating system. Though the corporate claims HarmonyOS is “completely different from Android and iOS,” an unbiased evaluate by Ars Technica discovered a number of telltale indicators that it’s only a evenly modified model of Android.
The largest distinction between Android and HarmonyOS is that Huawei’s model isn’t formally licensed by Google, so it could’t embody Google apps. Huawei has as an alternative developed its own alternative apps, together with a Google search substitute dubbed Petal Search, Petal Maps as an alternative of Google Maps, and a Huawei AppGallery as an alternative of the Google Play Retailer. HarmonyOS additionally doesn’t help main US-based apps like Fb, YouTube, and Instagram.
Will HarmonyOS achieve China?
There’s a very good likelihood HarmonyOS can catch on inside China, the place authorities are keen to switch Western know-how with homegrown alternate options. Beijing, as an illustration, has ordered all authorities places of work to replace foreign computers and software with Chinese tech by 2022. Because the technological rivalry between the US and China continues, HarmonyOS may grow to be a extra enticing different to Android and iOS, that are each managed by American corporations.
Plus, Chinese language customers aren’t prone to miss the US-based apps that aren’t accessible on HarmonyOS, as a result of Facebook and its ilk are banned in China anyway. HarmonyOS does, nonetheless, help Chinese language alternate options like Weibo and WeChat.
Huawei stated it plans to have 300 million devices running HarmonyOS by the top of 2021, which might provide proof that its working system is viable within the Chinese language home market.
Will cellphone makers outdoors China undertake HarmonyOS?
Huawei has stated it would make HarmonyOS an open-source software accessible to any cellphone maker who desires to make use of it (very like the open-source Android working system on which it’s primarily based). However HarmonyOS might be a more durable promote outdoors of China, the place customers usually tend to need mainstream Western apps and the total Google Play Retailer, and governments usually tend to face diplomatic pressure from the US to abandon Huawei technology.