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Huawei drops a bombshell: HongMeng OS isn’t what everyone thought it was

As if the Huawei Android ban saga wasn’t already messy enough, Huawei just dropped a bombshell. HongMeng OS isn’t designed for smartphones.

If you haven’t heard of HongMeng OS before, it’s a mysterious operating system that Huawei is currently developing.

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It’s believed to have been in the works for some time, but people only really started to pay attention to it after the White House issued an Executive Order on May 15 that would force Google to suspend any business that “requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing” − better known as the Huawei Android ban.

It was widely understood that HongMeng OS was set to be Huawei’s own alternative to Android. However, it seems we were all wrong.

According to Chinese news agency Xinhua, Huawei SVP Catherine Chen this week announced that HongMeng OS is, in fact, not designed for smartphones at all.

Instead, Chen says, HongMeng OS is built “for industrial use”, and Huawei intends to continue using Android on its smartphones.

It’s looking increasingly unlikely that the Huawei Android ban will stand, but the snippets of information about HongMeng OS that Huawei had dropped over recent months definitely made it sound like the software was destined for its future phones.

For instance, earlier this month Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei told Le Point that HongMeng OS will “likely” be faster than Android.

And in June, Huawei VP Andrew Williamson told Reuters: “Huawei is in the process of potentially launching a replacement [for Android]”.

He added: “It’s not something Huawei wants. We’re very happy of being part of the Android family, but Hongmeng is being tested, mostly in China.”

It seems like we’ve all been played.

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If the ban is upheld, future Android phones will have to rely on the open source version of Android (AOSP), and will likely be blocked from using the Google Play app store, Google Play Services, and Google apps like Gmail and Maps.

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