Huawei will start rolling out HarmonyOS on certain models of its smartphones from Wednesday evening, offering users the chance to switch from the current operating system that is based on Google’s Android platform.
The use of HarmonyOS means the company will no longer be reliant on Android. U.S. sanctions banned Alphabet’s Google from providing technical support to new Huawei phone models and access to Google Mobile Services, the bundle of developer services upon which most Android apps are based.
Huawei is considering HarmonyOS as an Internet-of-Things (IoT) platform, aimed at operating on and connecting other devices such as laptops, smartwatches, cars and appliances.
Huawei is aiming to have HarmonyOS rolled out on 200 million smartphones and 100 million third-party smart devices by the year-end, said Wang Chenglu, president of Huawei Consumer Business Group’s software department, who has led Huawei’s efforts to develop HarmonyOS since 2016.
China’s leading telecommunications equipment maker found itself on a U.S. trade blacklist in May 2019 due to national security concerns. Huawei has repeatedly denied it is a risk, Reuters reported.
The ban put Huawei’s handset business under immense pressure. Once the world’s biggest smartphone maker, Huawei now is ranked sixth globally with a 4 percent market share in the first quarter.
Wang said the company was looking beyond smartphones with HarmonyOS. He said the smartphone market had plateaued and that smartphones remain the dominant device in people’s lives largely because most developers have few other platforms to develop for.
Wang said he would welcome other smartphone makers adopting HarmonyOS, but added that Huawei sees big opportunities in working with makers of non-smartphone devices.
Will Wong, an analyst at IDC, said it was not essential for Huawei that other smartphone makers adopt HarmonyOS.
“But for Huawei to achieve its ambition, it will be important to get other electronics brands and even automakers onboard for the OS, and China provides a favourable market ecosystem to achieve this,” said Wong.
The Chinese tech kit titan selected the MatePad Pro as its flagship launch device for the operating system. This 12.6-inch tablet computer targets the market occupied by premium gear like the iPad Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7. Huawei angled the MatePad Pro toward creative types, touting the color accuracy and high contrast ratio of the 2560 x 1600, 240 PPI OLED display, and suggesting it could serve as a second monitor for professional photographers.
Under the hood, the embattled electronics giant has shoved a 10,050mAh battery which purportedly allows for 14-hours of continuous video playback, plus 5G and Wi-Fi 6 support, and a HiSilicon Kirin 9000E processor. Released in late 2020, and expected to feature in the long-awaited P50 flagship smartphone, this system-on-chip – sporting an Arm Cortex-A77 CPU core at 3.13GHz, three Cortex-A77s at 2.54GHz, and four Cortex-A55s at 2.05GHz – was built using TSMC’s 5nm process and includes a 22-core Arm Mali-G78 GPU, an AI accelerator, and Huawei’s Balong 5000 modem.
Huawei claimed its operating system offers better multitasking support than the Android that other people ship, keeping apps running in the background without fully closing them. It also said read-write speeds to the internal storage would remain constant over time regardless of the amount of space used.
Additionally, Huawei took the opportunity to introduce a tablet keyboard. Dubbed the Smart Magnetic Keyboard, this clips to the bottom of the fondleslab, and purportedly offers key travel of 1.3mm. That’s slightly more than that offered by the Apple Magic Keyboard used to type this article, which has 1.2mm of travel.
On the wearable front, Huawei has shoved HarmonyOS into its Huawei Watch 3 series devices. The biz was eager to tout the watch’s phone integrations, allowing it to make and receive calls, stream music, and use a handset’s mobile data plan, and boasted about the battery life, which apparently extends to five days for the Pro version and three days for the entry-level variant of the wristputer. huawei operating system