August 3, 2021

In trouble, Huawei unveils HarmonyOS, its response to Android

Huawei is playing its game: China’s number one telecommunications company lifted the veil on Wednesday, June 2, on its new operating system, HarmonyOS. This alternative solution to Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS is tailor-made for the era of connected objects, assures the group. It allows easy communication between a smartphone, a connected watch or a brand TV and, tomorrow, a smart car. However, the challenges are numerous for the Chinese giant, forced to take this path after the American sanctions in the summer of 2020. The United States has indeed cut off access to Google services and to American software producers.

Launched in 2019, when Huawei was first placed on the US Department of Commerce’s blacklist, HarmonyOS is built on the basis of Android Open Source Project, the source code of Android, which can be used without a license. However, this operating system wants to go further. “With Harmony, we weren’t just going to produce another Android or iOS. It would not bring any value to the consumer. Our special functions are what Android and iOS lack », defended, Wednesday, Wang Chenglu, the chief developer of the project. The first Harmony-equipped device is a Huawei TV, released in 2019.

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“There are two goals: to strengthen the interconnectivity between devices, and reduce dependence on Android, because of US sanctions., explains Jason Low, technology expert for research firm Canalys in Shanghai. Creating an operating system takes time, but it was necessary and, in the long run, it is a benefit for Huawei. Interconnectivity is a strong trend. The goal is to create new uses, and therefore to sell more devices ”, continues the expert.

In addition to a tablet presented on Wednesday, marketed with Harmony, Huawei will offer updates for most of the brand’s devices and smartphones, during 2021. The group from Shenzhen, the Chinese tech capital, hopes that Harmony will be used by 200 million devices of its brand by the end of the year, and by 100 million other terminals of different brands.

“More localized functions for Chinese users”

Some manufacturers of connected objects, such as Midea, one of the leaders in household appliances in the country, are already compatible with Harmony. However, convincing other competitors to adopt this OS is a challenge: “For newcomers, maybe, but I can’t imagine the Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo, who already use Android on all their smartphones and connected objects, switch to Harmony”, souligne M. Low.

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