Huawei’s Homegrown Operating System Isn’t Meant to Be an Android Alternative

Huawei has been going through a lot. After the company was blacklisted by the U.S. government, Google announced it will stop doing business with the phone maker, meaning it will no longer be able to supply Google’s vital Play Services and future Android updates with its future phones. That’s a massive deal for Huawei, as it would mean the company’s phones will lose access to the millions of apps on the Play Store and software updates for its phones.

Last month, of course, the U.S. government once again started allowing Huawei to do business with U.S. companies.

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There was, however, a really interesting discussion when Huawei was getting backlisted by all the companies, especially Google. Losing access to Android’s vital parts would significantly hurt the company’s growing phone business, and so there were lots of talks about an alternative OS the company has been working on. Multiple reports discussed Huawei’s “alternative” OS to Android which the company could use instead of Android if it had been blocked from using Android indefinitely.

But as it turns out, the OS that’s being developed by Huawei isn’t meant to be an alternative to Android. Chinese blog Xinhua reports that Hauwei’s SVP and board member, Catherine Chen, discussed the company’s homegrown operating system in a recent meeting. Apparently, the new OS–called Hongmeng–is designed for industrial use, and not as an alternative to Android for phones. The OS has even been in development for a while, with Chen claiming that the OS is much more secure and offers extremely low latency compared to a smartphone OS.

Huawei’s homegrown OS is still very interesting, mainly because of the fact that the company isn’t actually working on an alternative to Android. Although the situation with the trade battle between the U.S. and China has calmed down a bit recently, it still doesn’t eliminate the chances of any future events where the company could once again find itself in a big mess that’s almost completely out of its own control.

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Conversation 8 comments

  • BrianEricFord

    19 July, 2019 - 1:05 pm

    <p>“Not for consumer use” is basically corporate speak for “we haven’t figured out how to get consumers to want it yet.”</p><p><br></p><p>(See Google Glass, Hololens, etc.)</p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

    • skane2600

      19 July, 2019 - 7:51 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#443804">In reply to BrianEricFord:</a></em></blockquote><p>Well, this is an OS, not a device like the examples you gave. IMO more choices in industrial OS's can only be a positive thing. </p>

    • wright_is

      Premium Member
      20 July, 2019 - 4:09 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#443804">In reply to BrianEricFord:</a></em></blockquote><p>Industrial OS is for time critical tasks, such as production line monitoring, network switching etc. Here you need millisecond response times. With a user driven OS, if there is a pause of 50 – 500 milliseconds, the user probably won't notice, if an industrial device has to wait that long, a process can be ruined.</p><p>That is why there are RTOS Kernels available for Linux (at considerable cost, usually).</p>

      • skane2600

        20 July, 2019 - 6:26 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#443895">In reply to wright_is:</a></em></blockquote><p>I guess just about everything is expected to be Linux-based these days, but there's nothing about Linux that particularly lends itself to real-time applications, IMO. </p><p><br></p><p>Then again "hard" real-time software doesn't seem to be very common these days perhaps because specialized hardware is handling some of the burden. Although real-time systems are often fast, it's really the ability to perform actions within a particular time window that is key. In many systems being early is no better than being late. </p><p><br></p><p>My favorite everyday example of a real-time system is the rotating light game you might see at Chuck E. Cheese or an arcade. Lights are arranged in a circle and by lighting them and turning them off sequentially around the circle it appears that the light is moving. The player has a button in front of them that is supposed to be activated at the exact time the light appears directly in front of the button. Press the button too early or too late and the player will lose. This illustrates that in the general case, real-time "bugs" can't be solved by merely increasing the processor speed. </p>

  • karlinhigh

    Premium Member
    19 July, 2019 - 2:22 pm

    <p>"Extremely low latency compared to a smartphone OS." They almost have me with that line, when I look at my phone thinking "Am I waiting for it or is it waiting for me?"</p>

  • Tony Barrett

    20 July, 2019 - 4:47 am

    <p>It sounds to me that if (when) all this US blacklisting blows over, Huawei doesn't want to sour relationships with Google by potentially having a competing OS. I firmly believe Huawei have back-tracked a little now trade relationships are improving again. Without Android, no matter how they spun it, Huawei's phone business would be dead in the water.</p>

    • yangstax

      20 July, 2019 - 10:29 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#443904">In reply to ghostrider:</a></em></blockquote><p>Without Android, the Huawei international phone sales would be affected but not in the Chinese phone market. They use WeChat instead of Google service. The Hong-meng OS will be released in August with the new Huawei 55" TV. It will also be used on autonomous cars, IoT devices, robots, etc. Huawei will continue to develop Hong-meng to support phones and laptops. Hone-meng supports all Android apps thru App Gallery.</p>

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