Huawei Launches HarmonyOS on Phones, Tablets, Smartwatches

Posted on June 2, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Mobile, Smart Home with 14 Comments

Forced by the U.S. government to cut its reliance on U.S-based tech firms, Huawei has developed an OS to replace Android across its consumer devices. It’s called HarmonyOS, and it’s launching soon in China across smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches after an earlier appearance in smart TVs.

“Like other industries, the mobile internet industry built on top of smartphones is set to saturate,” Huawei president Wang Chenglu said. “The day when Huawei started to develop Harmony, we decided it will not be another Android or iOS because that wouldn’t bring value to our customers and app developers.”

Well, he’s right about one thing: It’s unlikely that HarmonyOS will ever see the success or reach of Android or iOS, at least in the West, though the firm claims that there are now over 500,000 developers writing apps to run on the system. Whether any of those developers represent the world’s biggest apps and services is unclear.

Earlier reports suggested that HarmonyOS was just a rebranded and slightly modified version of Android, which would explain how the system could run Android apps. But Huawei says that’s not true, and that there isn’t a “single line of code” in HarmonyOS that is identical to Android.

One of the more interesting aspects of this new platform is that Huawei plans to upgrade some existing smartphones and other devices to HarmonyOS. Overall, at least 100 of its devices will be upgradable to HarmonyOS, at least in China, and the firm says that HarmonyOS will power about 200 million Huawei smartphones in China before 2022. Over 100 million HarmonyOS-based devices are expected in the coming year from third parties.

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Comments (14)

14 responses to “Huawei Launches HarmonyOS on Phones, Tablets, Smartwatches”

  1. John Craig

    Agreed. We over here in the West seem to have this idea that a business (particularly a technology led business) has to be firing on all cylinders across the USA, Europe and, to some extend Australia, in order to be classed as a success.

    If you come up with a device, app or operating system that hits a mark in Africa, India, China, Russia or the Middle East, you're in the Dollars big time.

    They're not the ones losing's Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, etc that are losing out.

  2. peterc

    This quote from their launch caught my eye…

    >>>>With the use of distributed technology, HarmonyOS allows users to connect different types of devices with a single device and make it Super Device. Then the user can run every other connected device from that single Super Device, without opening other apps or accessing the devices separately.

    To me that sounds like it’s got possibilities.

    • nbplopes

      That is how iOS works. You can make your iPad, Apple TY or HomePod your home hub.

      • peterc

        Hi nbplopes, yes I know that’s what iOS does.

        What caught my eye with Harmony OS is that it can also…… “manage your PC and laptop of other brands too as part of a super device system”….

  3. wright_is

    And they were making some of the best smartphones on the market, before the US restrictions hit them. Certainly from the photography side, they were ahead of the game and the performance of their Kirin chipsets was also up their with Exynos and Snapdragon and they had AI processing cores already in their chips, back in 2018.

    If my banking etc. apps worked on them, I'd still consider buying a new one today.

  4. crunchyfrog

    [there isn’t a “single line of code” in HarmonyOS that is identical to Android.] Does anyone believe this line?

  5. brduffy

    This story is not worth expounding on any more than Paul has already done other than to say that Harmony is of course a close copy of Android.

  6. markbyrn

    As Ars noted, there's no discernible difference between Huawei's "all-new" OS and Android and minus Google services, a non-starter for me.

  7. bluvg

    If it does happen to take off, it will be a prime example of how some of the US's protectionist tactics can backfire spectacularly. If it takes off only regionally, it will still be a prime example, just less spectacularly.

  8. jerry2021f4

    Since mankind invented the first stone tool survival of the fit is to learn that you don't need to reinvent the wheel to survive.

  9. nbplopes

    Superficially, just by looking at the images, the iOS UI looks like a iOS ripoff with a touch of Samsung Android UI.

    PS. Never bought from Huawei or Xiaomi … sorri the later I have a heater from them.

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