Huawei unveils open source HarmonyOS for consumer devices

Huawei officially launched HarmonyOS at a stadium event in China, calling it open and safer and faster than Android. (Huawei Mobile)

Huawei officially unveiled HarmonyOS at an event in China on Friday. The OS is designed to run on Huawei’s consumer devices, including its popular smartphones that now run on Android.

The new OS is a hedge against a U.S. blacklisting of Huawei, in the event the company would completely lose access to Android. The U.S. Commerce Department added Huawei to its Entity List in May, along with other countries, a listing that regards Huawei to be a national security threat and prevents U.S. companies from dealing with it.

The Trump Administration announced Thursday it would hold off a decision about granting licenses for U.S. companies to restart business with Huawei due to mounting trade tensions with China, according to Bloomberg.

Richard Yu, head of Huawei’s consumer-device business, said Huawei wants to continue using Android, but could switch to HarmonyOS in one or two days if needed. He spoke at the Huawei Developers Conference attended by hundreds of software designers and reporters from China at a stadium near Dongguan, China.

Yu claimed that HarmonyOS is more versatile that Android and can be used in smart speakers, smartphones, wearables and in-car systems. The OS is also open source and is safer and faster than Android, Huawei said. Android developers will be able to port Android apps over to HarmonyOS using Huawei’s ARK compiler.

Yu also said HarmonyOS will launch on smart screen products later in 2019, then move to other devices over the next three years.

Some of the details about HarmonyOS are shown in tweets at #Huawei Mobile on Twitter. Comments on the new OS praised Huawei for making the OS open source and mentioned the obvious politics involved in creating the OS.

In one comment, #Andrew Gilmour tweeted congrats to Huawei, adding, “Get rid of OSs developed by American companies coz they use their products for pushing the agenda of American politicians.”