When it comes to Huawei and its contingency plans for an Android-compatible smartphone OS, it’s hard to know what to think. But according to a new report from the Chinese state media outlet Global Times, such a system could arrive as soon as this year.
I know. We’ve been down this road before.
In the wake of Huawei’s blacklisting by the U.S. government, Huawei pledged that it would continue supporting existing handsets with new Android versions and security updates. But the firm also revealed that it has been secretly planning for this day since 2012, and was developing replacements for both Android and Windows. In June, a South China Morning Post report claimed that a Huawei-created replacement for Android was called Hongmeng. But the firm denied that a month later, stating that Hongmeng was an IoT system for smart TVs and other similar embedded devices.
But last week, as part of its first half of 2019 financial report, Huawei said that Hongmeng was its “long-term strategy,” And now a new report in the Global Times says that it could be deployed in a new phone as soon as late 2019.
Citing multiple sources, the Global Times claims that Huawei will launch a sub-$300 smartphone running Hongmeng alongside the Android-powered Mate 30 Pro this fall. It’s not clear if this budget phone will be Android-compatible or will be sold outside of China. But the firm will allegedly produce “several million units.”
“Huawei is set to release the much-anticipated HongMeng OS, an alternative to Google’s Android OS, at Huawei’s Developer Conference on August 9 in Dongguan, South China’s Guangdong Province,” the publication notes. “The first batch of devices to be equipped with HongMeng OS will be the Honor smart TV series, which will be put into market on August 10. In the future, the HongMeng OS will be expanded into other fields including autonomous driving, remote medical services, and industrial control.”
While this report seems to further confuse matters, it may have actually stumbled onto the truth: Yes, Hongmeng was originally designed for embedded/IoT use and is thus much simpler and smaller than full Android. But with Huawei facing a long-term ban from using Google’s Android, it is adapting Hongmeng as a replacement for that system on smartphones too.
“Sources said that one of [the] tests Huawei is running on the HongMeng OS is its compatibility with Android applications,” the Global Times added.