When the US government banned Google from doing business with Huawei, the latter accelerated the introduction of its own operating system HarmonyOS. Other Chinese smartphone brands are also playing with the idea of proactively launching their own OS.
Logo of Huawei’s HarmonyOS; photo Huawei (disclaimer)
Smartphone and home electronics giant Xiaomi is the latest Chinese industry player to launch its own operating system for all its mobile devices, cars and internet-connected home products. Xiaomi describes HyperOS, the recently introduced operating system, as a combination of a highly customized Android and its own Internet of Things (IoT)platform Vela, which was launched three years ago to support a range of smart devices, from wristbands and smartwatches to speakers, home appliances and sensors. Xiaomi touts HyperOS as a “human-centric” operating system that is a culmination of its efforts to provide centralized and easier management of its extensive and growing product portfolio in a single operating system. HyperOS will come pre-installed on the latest Xiaomi 14 smartphone series, as well as devices launched in the mainland Chinese market, such as smartwatches and televisions, the company said.
Xiaomi is not the only Chinese company that has attempted to develop a homegrown operating system. Huawei, one of the first domestic manufacturers to make such an attempt, is now preparing a bolder step with the launch of the HarmonyOS Next next year. The Next system is the attempt of Huawei to cut ties with the Android ecosystem by removing support for Android apps on Huawei devices equipped with the new operating system. HarmonyOS was launched in August 2019, a few months after the US Ministry of Commerce Huawei had added to his Entity Listwhich prevented the Shenzhen-based telecom giant from buying technologies from US companies – including Google apps and services.
Although the Android Open Source Project is still free for everyone to use, it has Huawei continued its efforts to expand the use of HarmonyOS, first released on a smart television, to all its IoT and personal devices. To soften the blow for users, Huawei – which was briefly the world’s best-selling smartphone brand before US trade sanctions decimated its international handset business – has until now allowed Android apps to run on HarmonyOS devices.
According to StatCounter Android had a roughly 70% share of the global mobile operating system market in September, while HarmonyOS had a negligible share. Yet it seems Huawei ready to move on. ‘HarmonyOS has had four tough years. Looking back now, the light boat has already passed ten thousand mountains,” said Richard Yu Chengdong, CEO of Huawei‘s consumer business, during a launch event for HarmonyOS 4 in September, citing a famous line from a poem by ancient Chinese poet Li Bai. Today, more than 700 million devices run HarmonyOS, with more than 2.2 million third-party developers creating apps for the system, Yu said.
Meanwhile, other Chinese smartphone manufacturers continue to build their custom operating systems on the open-source Android. The best known of these are: Oppo‘s ColorOS and Vivo‘s OriginOS.
Source: South China Morning Post