The highly-anticipated software is considered crucial for the tech group's survival Photo: AFP/File
tech

Huawei launches own operating system to rival Android

21 Comments
By Sébastien RICCI

Chinese telecom giant Huawei unveiled its own operating system on Friday, as it faces the threat of losing access to Android systems amid escalating U.S.-China trade tensions.

Richard Yu, the head of Huawei's consumer business, told a press conference in the southern city of Dongguan that the new system, called HarmonyOS or HongMeng in Chinese, would "bring more harmony and convenience to the world".

The highly-anticipated software is considered crucial for the tech group's survival as it confronts a looming White House ban on U.S. companies selling technology products to Huawei which could remove its access to Google's Android operating system.

Yu said the new system was a "future oriented OS" to be "more smooth and secure", which he said was "completely different from Android and iOS".

Huawei said the first version of the operating system would launch later this year in its smart screen products, before expanding across a range of smart devices including wearable technology over the next three years.

"If you're asking when will we apply this to the smartphone, we can do it at any time," said Yu, adding that they gave priority to using Google's Android operating system, which is compatible with Harmony.

"However, if we cannot use it (Android) in the future, we can immediately switch to the Harmony OS," he said.

In May the company was swept into the deepening trade war between Beijing and Washington which has seen punitive tariffs slapped on billions of dollars of two-way trade.

Huawei -- considered the world leader in superfast fifth-generation or 5G equipment and the world's number two smartphone producer -- has been blacklisted by U.S. President Donald Trump amid suspicions it provides a backdoor for Chinese intelligence services, something the firm denies.

On Thursday Beijing slammed U.S. rules banning Huawei and other Chinese companies from government contracts, saying they amounted to an "abuse of state power".

As a result of U.S. moves to blacklist Huawei, American companies are theoretically no longer allowed to sell technology products to the firm, but a three-month exemption period -- which ends next week -- was granted by Washington before the measure came into force.

That ban could prevent the Chinese tech firm from getting hold of key hardware and software including smartphone chips and elements of the Google Android operating system, which equips the vast majority of smartphones in the world, including those of Huawei.

Huawei has reportedly been working on its own operating system since 2012, but the group has always said publicly it didn't want to replace its Android phones with a home operating system.

Yu told German newspaper Die Welt in an interview published in March that creating their own operating system was "Plan B".

Huawei will be able to "develop at a lower cost a brand new ecosystem" and "mitigate its dependence on U.S. suppliers for its software needs", Kenny Liew, technology analyst at Fitch Solutions, told AFP.

However, smartphones using the system would mainly be confined to the Chinese market, Liew said.

Developing an operating system and the entire ecosystem that accompanies it is a complex affair.

Apart from Google's Android, the only other popular operating system is Apple's iOS, available exclusively on the iPhone.

Microsoft pulled the plug on its Windows Phone platform earlier this year, and Samsung's Tizen system is barely known compared with Android and iOS.

But without access to the full version of Android or the popular services of Google -- not to mention the many applications available on the Google Play store -- Huawei may have trouble convincing consumers outside China to buy its phones.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


21 Comments
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Now this is interesting. I wonder if they'll be able to build an ecosystem similar to Apple's, with devices running the same - or very structurally similar - OS.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

I suppose it would have the advantage of regular updates, which many Android phones do not have.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

It is good to have choices... I will follow Harmony OS.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Yes, it's called SPYWARE.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

It is just normal they would create their own os so as not to be held hostage again.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Yes, it's called SPYWARE

Lolololololololololoololololololol

What do you think Google does with Android???

2 ( +3 / -1 )

No, thanks..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm sure the 34 apps that will be available for it will be just fabulous.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It's all about the apps - look what happened to Microsoft's UWP phones - not enough developers supported it by porting their apps there (some of the biggest missing were actually Google's own apps - Chrome, Gmail, Google Maps, etc.)

Because when developers port their app, porting it is only the beginning of their work - they then have to put resources into supporting it by updating it, fixing the inevitable bugs and when an update breaks the app, etc.

All that trouble must become worth it for them in the end monetarily - because if in the end, the money isn't there, then porting the app is more trouble than its worth - and they'll pull the plug.

A smartphone without the apps is no smartphone - it's just an expensive flip-phone.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Will we be able to see the source code to check that the OS isn't sending data back to the Chinese dictators? Perhaps it includes automatic censorship of comments critical of Chinese despots and their actions?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yakyak, in fact the OS that is spyware is called Android. Google knows where you go, what you type, what you like. Android is Big Brother.

I suspect that like Android it is based on a Linux kernel, so there should be plenty of apps.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well most any OS is gonna be better than IOS.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The big difference will be that Huawei will have a billion + customers ready to support it. Especially if the Chinese gov. gets involved. This is why Google quickly back tracked on the ban--they don't want Huawei to get involved and take away some of that precious OS market share.

As for the spyware, a lot of you must have been born before Eric Snowden exposed that our own governments are the ones we should be worried about. Why would China care about you and your cat or food pictures?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I suspect that like Android it is based on a Linux kernel, so there should be plenty of apps.

It's not where it's based - Samsung's Tizen OS is Linux-based too, but doesn't have that many apps

It's about how many developers would bother porting their apps and supporting it

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Will we be able to see the source code to check that the OS isn't sending data back to the Chinese dictators? Perhaps it includes automatic censorship of comments critical of Chinese despots and their actions?

Look up Eric Snowden. It’s not that we are afraid of being spied upon. We are afraid of not being able to spy on them with a Huawei OS instead of Android.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I wonder if this the creation of a Chinese OS - whereby China has its own OS that is only really used by China and its allies - is just the first step to a bifurcation of the internet, whereby the Chinese create a separate internet, on their own hardware, that they control, and to some degree is physically separate from the current internet.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Look up Eric Snowden.

Slightly different. Snowden exposed the US watching communications over public networks.

The question raised about Harmony OS is whether or not it will be open source, allowing people to look for code that may be sending info back to the Chinese government.

It's the difference between listening to someone's phone calls, and putting a tap into that person's brain that can report their thoughts to the Chinese government.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The question raised about Harmony OS is whether or not it will be open source, allowing people to look for code that may be sending info back to the Chinese government.

I suspect any serious spying code would be embedded in hardware and not the OS.

But if using a Chinese OS makes it more difficult for my own government to spy on me, .... What's that old saying, the OS of my country's enemy is my friend. And so the Chinese should use Android, and Americans should use Huawei.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

But if using a Chinese OS makes it more difficult for my own government to spy on me, .... What's that old saying, the OS of my country's enemy is my friend. And so the Chinese should use Android, and Americans should use Huawei.

I'm having troubles understanding the logic here. How is it preferable to have your enemy spying on you? Or either one spying on you for that matter.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

3 things stood out to me:

It is 60% faster than Google's Android.

It is free of licensing costs.

It is open source, thus secure and does not steal my private information for sale to governments or advertisers.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I'm having troubles understanding the logic here. How is it preferable to have your enemy spying on you?

I said "my country's enemy" not "my enemy". I think there's a difference. Would you worry more about China looking at your tax accounts or your own country doing the same?

I was joking somewhat.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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