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Everything to know about HarmonyOS, Huawei's answer to Android as the trade war between the US and China rages on

Lisa Eadicicco , Business Insider US
 Aug 11, 2019, 09:47 AM
Harmony from Huawei.

  • Huawei unveiled its HarmonyOS software on Friday, the homegrown operating system it's been developing as the company has been blacklisted from working with US firms like Google.
  • The software will first appear in smart screen devices and will eventually be available on wearables and in-car systems too.
  • The debut comes as President Trump said the US will cut its ties with Huawei.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.


On Friday, Chinese tech giant Huawei unveiled its new HarmonyOS software - an operating system for its upcoming electronic devices. The launch comes as Huawei remains on a blacklist that prevents it from working with American software giants like Google.

See also: Huawei may replace Android with its new operating system – here’s how South Africa will be affected

In the wake of Huawei's announcement, President Trump said on Friday that the United States will cut its ties with the Chinese tech behemoth. The move comes just after China had stopped purchasing American agricultural products, a response to the Trump administration's latest round of tariffs on Chinese imports.

Bloomberg reported on Thursday that the White House had been delaying its decision to issue licenses to American business that wish to work with Huawei following its blacklisting in May. The blacklisting means Huawei will lose access to Android, which powers the majority of the world's smartphones.

See also: Huawei just introduced a new operating system - but current users won’t be able to change yet

Although Huawei has said it wants to continue using Android, it could use its homegrown operating system as a replacement for Google's software. Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's consumer business group, said it could switch its smartphones from Android to HarmonyOS in one or two days if it had to, according to The Wall Street Journal.

See also: Huawei is upgrading its Android-based operating system – here’s when South Africa will get it

Huawei is debuting its new software as it's on the verge of releasing its highly-anticipated foldable smartphone, the Mate X, which is said to come in September.

Here's a look at everything we know about Harmony OS based on Huawei's announcement.


The operating system isn't just for smartphones.

Huawei said in its announcement that HarmonyOS is designed to work across a variety of devices, not just traditional smartphones and tablets.

"We needed an OS that supports all scenarios, that can be used across a broad range of devices and platforms, and that can meet consumer demand for low latency and strong security," Yu said in a press release.


The first devices to get Harmony OS will be smart screens.

The first iteration of the software will be available on upcoming smart screen devices set to launch later this year. Huawei's Honor Smart Screen, which the company says it will unveil on Saturday, will be the first product to run the software.

Smart screens are essentially tablets that are meant to be positioned in the home, like the one made by Lenovo pictured above. They're similar to smart speakers like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, but with a screen.

It's not the first time we've heard that Huawei has additional smart home products in the works. The company was reportedly working with Google on a new smart speaker that would include the search giant's virtual assistant, The Information reported in July. But that plan fell through once Huawei was blacklisted.

Over the next three years, Harmony OS will start to appear in other devices as well, such as wearables and cars.


Developers will be able to create apps once and deploy them across multiple types of devices.

Harmony OS will be capable of adapting to different screen layouts and interactions, says Huawei. This means developers can code their apps just once and they should work across various types of devices.


The software should offer fast performance, Huawei claims.

The operating system will have what is known as a Deterministic Latency Engine, which as its name implies helps the software discern which tasks to prioritize in order to achieve fast performance. The company claims this should reduce latency in apps by 25.7%.


It will launch in China but will eventually be available globally.

Huawei says it will "lay the foundations for HarmonyOS" in the Chinese market, suggesting that it will debut in China first. It will then expand it globally as an open-source platform available around the world.

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