Report Details Huawei’s Plans for an Android Alternative

Posted on June 11, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Mobile, Android with 31 Comments

A new report provides our best look yet at Huawei’s plans to circumvent Android and replace it with its own in-house operating system.

As you may know, these plans have taken on a new urgency thanks to the United States blacklisting Huawei from doing business with U.S.-based corporations. This blacklisting will cut off the firm from Google, which makes Android and supplies software updates, and from component makers like Qualcomm that provide some of the chipsets used inside its devices.

But Huawei has been planning for this day for quite some time, according to a new report in the South China Morning Post. The firm began working on its Android alternative over seven years ago when Huawei became concerned about Android’s market penetration and the power that Google wielded over the industry. The response? Huawei would build its own mobile OS “under conditions of tight secrecy.”

The publication says that Huawei’s internal OS efforts are happening inside Huawei 2012 Laboratories, a secret research and development lab. But with the U.S. blacklisting, Huawei has started to open up about its alternative OS efforts, which include an alternative to Windows for PCs as well, in part to quell customer fears for the future.

“As we have noted before, Huawei does have backup systems but only for use in extenuating circumstances,” a Huawei statement notes. “We fully support our partners’ operating systems – we love using them and our customers love using them. Android and Windows will always remain our first choices. In the meantime, we will do everything within our power to protect the interests of our customers.”

According to the South China Morning Post, Huawei’s Android alternative uses a microkernel architecture and is compatible with Android, enabling users to run Android apps normally. This is obviously key to the success of the venture, since an incompatible OS would face significant resistance from customers.

As for the name of this system, Huawei registered the name “Huawei Hongmeng”—“primordial world” in English—last year in China. But it separately registered “Huawei Ark OS” in the European Union this past May as well. And that seems like a more obvious name, at least for Huawei’s Western customers.

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Comments (31)

31 responses to “Report Details Huawei’s Plans for an Android Alternative”

  1. beckerrt

    Now THIS is what I'm talking about. Good for them. All you Huawei lovers out there, this is what you should be rooting for, instead of whining and complaining about the big, bad US and Supreme Leader Trump. Fight back with new non-US technology! This is good to see.

  2. UK User

    I know that the writing has been on the for a long long time but I held my hands up and gave in. My Lumia 650 still works as I like but now I read that Microsoft has started 'depreciating' updates for those Windows phone still able to receive them. A couple of months ago I went over to Android, I don't pay big bucks for my phones so iPhones are out of the question. I chose a Honor 10 Lite handset, and overall I have come to terms with it, until that is the trade war, now ongoing between the USA and China, makes this relatively new phone as bad as my old Lumia 650 for continuing updates. The Honour brand of course belongs to Huawei so it looks like I may have a second crippled phone due to no fault of my own. Free Trade? It's costing dear.

  3. HoloLensman

    No thanks. I have security concerns with Android. Why would I ever want to use a Chinese knockoff?

  4. richard1976

    Back in 1999 things was different,thats 30 years ago! The First licens i paid for, was Windows 7 Ultimate. guess where I come from. (Hint: fjords & oil)

    software discovery and distribution was a culture so different from to day, so much that it would be described as pre historical in a history lesson of today. This is a different topic, but I think its important to remember the context of evolution, in this case technology evolution.

    I was not a thif, the only way to get software was to get a copy from a friend, mostly my American neighbours. (oil workers) this was the way for many years, pre Internet & pre cable/fibre. 2014 was the last time I bought a hard copy of software. Think about that as a context for part's of the discussion.

    The trade war is business. Politics is about dividing & managing resources.


    From the fjords;)

  5. Daekar

    Will be interesting to see how this plays out. It might be very awkward indeed for Google to face a competing OS that can natively run Android apps. Honestly, it's surprising that it's taken as long as it has for competing political blocks to develop their own native OS ecosystem.

  6. SvenJ

    Based on the store in the header shot, wonder if their OS will look more like Android or iOS?

  7. Bats

    Yah.....ever hear of Samsung?

  8. lvthunder

    Of course they are doing this. It would be stupid of them not to have a backup. They know what's coming.

  9. Todd Northrop

    Good luck with that.

  10. kshsystems

    What about the Google Play Store?

    • karlinhigh

      In reply to kshsystems:

      I had little trouble getting Google Play Store onto an Amazon Kindle Fire tablet. It was a few APK sideloads. If per-the-article the Huawei OS can run Android apps normally, I expect there will be a way to do the same thing unless Google or Huawei put effort into preventing it. Mobile-native users might be put-off by the inconvenience, though.

    • wright_is

      In reply to kshsystems:

      It will have its own app store and replacement services for the Google services.

  11. conan007

    Will it work? Windows Phone and Amazon's Fire Phone may be of some guide. I feel any phone without App Store or Play Store would find it very difficult to compete.

    • wright_is

      In reply to conan007:

      Huawei already has their own app store, although it is currently sparsely populated in western markets.

    • glenn8878

      In reply to conan007:

      It will definitely work in China's closed market where residents can't access Google and Facebook. They can easily use WeChat and other Chinese apps that you can't get here. Then from China, they expand further east and west. Huawei doesn't have US presence so the US market is irrelevant at least for now.

  12. terry jones

    Why would these thieves need an alternative to Windows?

    What was it Steve Ballmer said about China?

    Oh yea. "90% of Chinese companies were using Windows, but only 1% were paying for it"

    But keep on defending these crooks.

  13. john1990

    Has there been any confirmed documented of Huawei "spying" on people on the Huawei's products?

    Its just a scare tactic which by the morons in the Trump administration.

    Think about it. All this backlash the idiots in at the trump admin is just to crush a rising company.

    Now due to trumps mindless actions on trade and traffis, this will cause greater unemployment in China and hurt their economy.

    With the economy slowing in China, there probably will much more immigrants trying to come int the US.

    Great going Pence / Trump, ya morons