Report Details Huawei’s Plans for an Android Alternative

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